An air conditioning unit pulls water from the air and turns it into liquid. This condensation then travels via a drain line, leading the water out of the house. If one or more components of your AC system malfunctions or gets damaged or clogged, you’ll experience water leaks. What begins as a mild inconvenience can eventually destroy walls, floors, and ceilings, not to mention the air conditioner’s efficiency and performance. Worse still, mold can grow in moisture-ridden areas, polluting your indoor air. And before you know it, the air conditioner is not turning on or cooling your living space. Here are some of the most common causes of AC leaks and how to prevent or fix them.
1. Incorrect AC Installation
If you recently installed a new air conditioning unit and it’s leaking, the common reason might be poor installation. The drain pipes and the AC may not be proportional, disrupting the water flow from the unit’s drain pan. The water might lie at the same level or flow backward if the flow cannot stream ahead. Ensure the drain pipe is lower than the main unit during installation to allow water to flow downwards toward the drainage outlet. Additionally, ensure your air conditioning unit is on a flat and even surface. If the surface is not smooth, you can level the AC by regulating the concrete pad holding it.
If you use a window AC, you can tilt the front part of the unit slightly to allow water to drain out through the back. If the unit is too flat, water might flow in the opposite direction and flood your house. Also, if the seals that hold your AC unit are loose, water may start dripping into your house. To avoid this problem, allow an HVAC expert to install your AC. These professionals have the knowledge and experience to install different AC brands and models without errors.
2. Damaged or Cracked Drain Pan
The drain overflow pan is underneath the evaporator coils or within the air handlers. This pan catches condensation as it drops. From here, the condensation flows into the AC’s drain line and then outdoors. If your AC unit has cracks or is damaged, water will begin leaking instead of flowing into the drain. An aging air conditioner can start showing several signs of aging, and one of the common occurrences is a rusted drain. If your AC is over 15 years old, its drain pan may rust and corrode with time, causing your unit to leak. Carefully check along the edges and each corner of the drain pan for holes, cracks, or notches. Although you can repair small holes using epoxy, replacing the drain overflow pan is the best way to solve this problem.
3. Clogged Filter
You must regularly replace your AC’s filter to prevent leaks and enhance the unit’s performance. If you don’t change your filter for a long duration, it’ll become dirty and clogged, restricting airflow. When the air within the unit’s evaporator coils is too cold, the coils will freeze, leading to ice buildups on and in the air conditioning unit. When the accumulated ice melts, water drips, causing leaks.
Many filters can last between 30 and 60 days. However, how frequently you change or replace your filters depends on where you live. For instance, people living in regions with cooler temperatures do not need to change air filters frequently because air conditioners aren’t used regularly in those temperatures. If your AC is in heavy use, check the air filter more often to prevent leaks. Rotating the air filter can help avoid common problems and improve your AC unit’s efficiency.
4. Clogged or Blocked Condensate Drain Line
A clogged condensate drain is one of the most common reasons for AC water leakages. The moisture your unit collects during dehumidification contains debris and dirt. If you don’t clean your condensate drain line, it can accumulate with time, causing a blockage. Sooner or later, water will begin collecting in the air conditioner, forcing it to flow out of the drain and into your living space. Some modern air conditioning units come with a cutoff switch that automatically shuts down your AC if it detects a blocked condensate line. This feature can protect your home from water damage. Nevertheless, if your AC does not have the feature, you’ll need to take immediate action yourself.
To prevent clogs in your condensate line, invest in regular AC maintenance. As part of your routine maintenance, pour some bleach into the drain every six months to keep the condensate line clean. However, don’t increase the frequency as bleach can increase the probability of corrosion. Using bleach will also help prevent mold growth and remove germs.
5. Broken Float Switch or Condensate Pump
If your central cooling and heating unit is in the basement or a location far away from the attic, it might be difficult for the water to flow out of the drain line. In this scenario, a condensate pump plays a significant role in eliminating water from the air conditioner. When the condensate pump’s reservoir’s water level goes up, the pump’s float switch turns on, triggering the AC’s pump to drain the water outside your house.
If the pump gets broken or the float switch malfunctions, it’ll not pump water out of the unit, causing water to accumulate and begin spilling from the air conditioner. You cannot fix the problem yourself if you are dealing with a broken or malfunctioning condensate pump or float switch. Contact your AC technician to repair or replace the components, depending on the current damage.
6. Frozen Evaporator Coils
Evaporator coils can freeze due to blocked airflow or refrigerant leaks. This situation can cause moisture buildup, leading to drain pan overflow and water leaks. If your AC is freezing up, call your technician to inspect the unit and locate the source of this problem. If there’s an airflow blockage, the expert will check the return vents, ducts, fin coils, and air filters. Cleaning these components will restore airflow and fix the freezing and water leak problems.
If cleaning the components does not solve the issue, your air conditioner may have a low refrigerant level. When there’s inadequate refrigerant in your AC, the evaporator coils will become too cold, causing ice formations. When the ice melts, water will start dripping from your AC. Unfortunately, you cannot fix refrigerant problems yourself since it’s dangerous. Contact your HVAC technician to identify the causes of the leakage and fix it before refilling the refrigerant.
Partner With the Air Conditioning Experts Today!
A leaking air conditioning unit can be a serious problem. It’ll not only leave you extremely hot and uncomfortable during summer, but it can also cause mold problems and serious water damage in the long run. Fortunately, most AC leakages are easy fixes. Proper maintenance and keeping your AC unit clean will help repair and prevent most leaks. If you are experiencing AC leaks, contact our HVAC technicians at 4 Points A/C & Heating today. These professionals will inspect your AC system and perform the necessary repairs or replacements to restore your residential property’s comfort.
We also offer zoning, heating, air quality, attic insulation, air balancing, remodels, ventilation, and duct services throughout San Bernardino, CA, and the surrounding regions. Contact us today for all your AC-related needs or to order any other service on our list.