Learn Why Your AC Is Leaking Water

Licensed HVAC Contractor in O'Fallon, MO

An AC comes in handy when dealing with the hot summer climate. It’s one of the best ways to keep your home cool and comfortable. However, over time, you have to deal with repairs and maintenance issues, especially if it is nearing the end of its life cycle.

One of the main problems you should be ready to deal with is a leaking air conditioner. If not handled on time, this small problem can evolve into other issues, including mold growth, damaged walls and ceilings, and wet floors, not to mention the poor performance of your AC. To understand why your AC is leaking water, you need to know how an AC works.

How Does an AC Work?

The first thing you need to know about air conditioners is that they don’t cool the air; they remove indoor heat and transfer it outside. Among other components, the unit works via filtered return vents, an evaporator coil, and a condenser. The return vents suck the warm, humid air from living spaces and blow it over the evaporator coil. The heat is absorbed by the refrigerant, turning it into a hot gas. Free of humidity and heat, the air is then blown back into living spaces through supply vents using a fan.

Condensing is the final stage of cooling your home. At the condenser, the heat from the hot gas is discharged into the atmosphere, and the cold refrigerant regains its liquid state. It’s then relayed to the first station to repeat the entire process. When warm, humid air is repeatedly blown over the evaporator coil, moisture is collected and drips into the primary drain pan before sliding down the drain line.

Signs Your AC Is Leaking Water or Refrigerant

A water leak is relatively easy to notice, with the obvious sign being water dripping from the unit. If you notice a pool of water under your AC unit, you should contact a professional to handle it, preferably one from a reputable firm such as Hoff Heating & AC. Other signs you should watch out for include:

  • Watermarks under the indoor unit
  • Long cooling cycles or poor performance
  • Dripping noise inside the unit or walls
  • Mold growth
  • Moldy and musty smell near the indoor unit

Reasons Your AC Is Leaking Water?

Most homes are required by law to install a secondary or safety drain pan under the furnace or air handler. The secondary drain is then fitted with a drain line that directs water outside. These drain lines are mounted on the window, making it easy to see if water drains out of these pipes. Seeing water come out of this outlet signifies that your primary drain is blocked, and water is being collected on the secondary drain pan. Below are some of the reasons why your AC is leaking:

Drain Line Is Disconnected

On rare occasions, the drain line can come loose or get disconnected, causing water to leak in your unit. When the drain line is disconnected from the pan, water is likely to seep into the indoor unit. To locate this problem, you need to inspect the unit to check if the drain lines are connected to the evaporator coil drain pan. If the connection is broken, it’s best to get a technician to handle it as soon as possible before running the unit.

Blocked Condensate Drain

When warm, humid air is sucked into the unit and blown over the evaporator coil, it’s cooled and collected on the metal surface. The water is then drained into the pan under the indoor coil in the air handler. As cooling continues, the condensate is channeled into a drain line before the pan overflows. However, over time, the pan fills up with mold, dirt, mineral deposits, and other materials, preventing water from flowing as expected.

Unclogging the drain pan requires an expert who understands the cleaners and techniques needed to get it done. They are also able to clear the pan without causing more damage. In some cases, the technician can recommend installing an automatic switch to turn off the unit when the drain is clogged. This way, they can minimize water damage to the AC and your home.

Condensate Pump Is Not Working

There are models fitted with pumps to drain water, especially if the drain system is above the unit. Even without any blockage, water is likely to collect and leak if the pump is not working. When checking why your AC is leaking, make sure the pump is receiving sufficient power. If power is not the problem, then your water leaks may be from a broken condensate pump. Have a professional look at it before it gets out of hand.

Evaporator Coil Is Broken

Tiny drips instead of pools of water outside the air handler or furnace could mean water is splashing off the coil and not collecting on the drain pan. This is caused by holes in the insulation or grimy coils. The best way to prevent this leak is through regular unit maintenance.

Low Refrigerant Levels

Low refrigerant levels usually mean the AC is no longer operating optimally. Air conditioners depend on refrigerants to absorb the warm, humid air from the atmosphere and provide a cooling effect. You need to constantly check the levels of the refrigerant to maintain the health of the unit.

Lack of enough refrigerant could cause the coils to freeze, which in turn causes the drain pan to overflow when they thaw. It’s best to note that most units don’t need refrigerant refills. The system is usually sealed, and refills are only necessary when there is a refrigerant leak.

Damaged Drip Pan

Air conditioners are designed to serve you for several years. However, this doesn’t mean they are immune to wear and tear. Typically, an AC is designed to last up to 12 years before you can notice any age-related damage. At this point, you are likely to deal with a corroded or damaged drip pan. If the drain pan has holes, you will likely deal with a water leak since the condensate goes through directly. An expert can help you swap out the old drain pan to prolong the life cycle of your unit.

Dirty Air Filter

The AC’s air filters need to be changed regularly to ensure enough airflow. Without proper ventilation, the coils are likely to freeze over. When the coils thaw, they cause excess water to collect on the drain pan, which can lead to an overflow. To remedy this, you need to regularly switch your air filters. However, if the problem persists, then you may need to carry out extensive repairs on the unit.

There are different reasons why your AC is leaking water. The best way to deal with most of these problems is through regular inspections and maintenance. This way, you can identify and fix any problem before it multiplies. You also prevent these leaks by installing safety switches within the unit. These switches don’t come with the unit and are included as an add-on.

At Hoff Heating & AC, we believe our clients in O’Fallon and the surrounding areas deserve nothing short of the best services. Our team offers a full range of AC and heating services. You can also trust us for indoor air quality solutions, geothermal services, and HVAC design for new construction projects. Contact us for more information.