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Air Conditioner Leaking Water? Here’s What You Should Do

By June 14, 2021No Comments
AC Leaking Water and leaving water stains on the wall

Is your air conditioner leaking water? While it can be concerning and make a mess, there are some steps you can take to stop your AC from leaking water.

Below we listed all the reasons your HVAC system could be leaking water, as well as, how to solve each one.

How Does Your AC Work?

Before we just jump into the reasons and how to fix them, it is important to first talk about how your AC works.

Your AC has two parts, and outside condenser and an inside air handler also named the blower or heater.

The condenser uses a fan to condense freon (a type of gas) inside these small copper pipes. When freon condenses, it gets really cold.

Then, the cold, condensed freon travels to your air handler where air is blown through the coils. Well, at the same time, when cold gas condenses, water develops from condensation. This condensation is what pulls humidity out of the air.

That condensation then drips down your air handler into your condensation line and outside the home.

Freon passes back from your air handler to your outside condenser to then be recompressed and the cycle repeats over and over again.

Now that you have a quick brief of how your AC system works, we can dive a little bit deeper on why your AC may be leaking.

Reasons Your Air Conditioner Is Leaking Water

Having your AC leaking water is not always the end of the world. However, you should ensure your AC is not just sweating. If your AC is sweating, we have another blog post on that.

From knowing how an AC works, water is typically found in your air handler and should just be condensation that drips out of your home through the condensation line.

If you are sure your air conditioner is leaking, fixing the issue quickly is important. If your AC continues to leak, you can easily grow mold near your air handler.

That being said, here are the reasons your AC could be leaking water and what to do about it.

Air Handler Condensation Line Diagram.

Clogged Condensation Line

Your condensation line is typically made out of 3/4 inch PVC which is a white plastic pipe. Additionally, it comes out of the front of the air handler and uses gravity to drain condensation water away from your air handler and outside your home.

Often, the condensation line can become backed up and clogged. Clogging can happen because the line can grow algae and mildew that eventually clogs the line. This is why you are supposed to pour 1/3 cup of vinegar down the condensation line every 3 months at a minimum. This helps keep the line algae free and flowing smoothly.

If your condensation line is backed up, your AC might shut off from the float switch, or you might see water in your drain pan underneath your air handler.

Air handler water stains underneath in water pan.

Clogged Condensation Line? Here’s What You Should Do

Head outside to your Air Conditioning unit and locate the condensation line. Remember, it is typically white PVC. Using a wet/dry shop vac, place the hose at the end of the condensation line and use your hand to create a good suction connection between the hose and your condensation line.

Then, try to suck out the clog from your condensation line. Doing so will alleviate the clog and then allow water to freely flow out of the pipe and fixing your water leaking problem.

Dirty Air Filter

Next up, we have a dirty air filter. The air filter is located in your air handler and should be changed out every 1-3 months depending on your family size.

When your air filter is clogged, air no longer moves through the air handler. This can cause your coils to get too cold and freeze. That freezing can begin to leak under your air handler.

Here’s What You Should Do

Change your air filter every 1-3 months! That’s it!

Low Freon/Refrigerant

If it has been awhile since your AC has been serviced, you could have low freon levels. Low freon levels can lead to lower pressures inside your coils which can also lead to freezing.

Here’s What You Should Do

Call a service company if you believe your freon might be low. In most states, HVAC technicians are the only ones that can gauge freon levels and install freon.

Damaged/Missing Drain Pan

Next up, we have a missing or damaged drain pan. A drain pan should catch any falling water and safely drain the water out of your home. Sometimes, the drain pan can become rusted or just be missing.

Here’s What You Should Do

Install a drain pan and ensure a condensation line is connected to safely drain water outside of the home if it were to fill.

You can go a step further by adding a float switch to your drain pan. These are required in some areas. Float switches will turn on your AC unit if your drain pan becomes filled with water.

Missing/Broken Float Switch

A float switch should be installed on your condensation line. This switch will stop your AC if the condensation line becomes clogged. While float switches are now required in most areas, some homes still may be missing them.

Here’s What You Should Do

Be sure to check if your float switch is still functional. Or, install one if you are missing a float switch. You should definitely do this if your condensation line became clogged (listed as the first reason your AC is leaking water).

Improperly Installed

Sometimes, AC units can be improperly installed or improperly sized for the home. This can lead to many issues including water leaking from the AC.

Here’s What You Should Do

Unfortunately, you need to call a HVAC company to have them remedy the situation for you.

Cool Outdoor Temperatures

If there are cooler outdoor temperatures, like below 60, the freon inside your coils may become too cold. If your freon is too cold, this can lead to freezing and water leaking.

Here’s What You Should Do

Your AC should not be running if it is cold outside!

Broken Condensate Pump

If your air handler is in your basement, you properly have a condensate pump. A condensate pump helps pump water through your condensation line and outside the home.

While most work through gravity, you may have a pump to help push water against gravity. If your pump is broken, water will not flow and lead to leaking.

Here’s What You Should Do

If you are handy, you can purchase a new condensate pump and replace it yourself. If not, I would recommend hiring a HVAC technician to replace your condensate line for you.

Final Thoughts on AC Leaking Water

Your AC helps push cold air through your home and pull the humidity from your home. This is done by blowing air through cold freon-filled copper coils. The coils condensate just like if you left a cold water outside in the sun.

Be sure to check the reasons above on why your AC may be leaking water. This will help you control the condensation in your AC and ensure your AC does not freeze over.

If you have additional questions, comment below!

Waypoint Property Inspection inspects HVAC systems during their home inspections the Tampa Bay, FL area.

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