Your AC is Leaking, Here’s What Should You Do

Outdoor temperatures and the settings of your home thermostat really affect how your air conditioner works. You can’t really control the weather but you can check your thermostat. If you see that your thermostat is not giving you the right reading, you know that your AC is not functioning properly. This could become severe if you see your air conditioner leaking water excessively. In fact, a common complaint that often comes from AC users is water leakage.

These leaks don’t usually affect the performance of an AC, but a prolonged period of leakage could indicate some sort of problem in the AC, which you need to fix as soon as you can. When an AC starts leaking, the owner usually calls in a technician. But what you should know is that you can actually fix these leaks yourself. If you have a problem with your air conditioner leaking water and think that repairing is too technical, I can assure you that it’s not really that complicated.

How Water Forms in the Air Conditioner

Every air conditioner has an evaporator coil over which warm air is blown. When warm air touches the coil it gets cooled and forms moisture. Then the moisture drips as water into a drain pan, which usually sends water away from your house through PVC pipes. However, it’s a problem if water leaks inside your home. Here’s how you can prevent this from happening.

Clogged Drain Line

This is one of the most common reasons for your air conditioner leaking water into your home. You should see if the drain pipe is clogged with dirt, dust, mold or sludge. They often clog your AC’s drain line and cause water to flow back towards your house. You could pour bleach on the access opening of the drain line next to the AC unit. This could kill away any mold, algae or mildew growing inside the pipe or any insects and rats. But if that doesn’t work you can try using a special pump or a shop vacuum cleaner to suck out things that are clogging the line. And if you’re still unable to remove the clog then it’s time to call a professional AC repairman to help you.

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Damaged and Old Drain Pan

A drain pan should be able to hold moisture properly. But if your AC is more than 15 years old, the drain pan is more likely rusty and damaged now. So it won’t be able to hold moisture, causing water to leak. In such situations, you’ve to replace the drain pan. If your AC is too old, it’s simply better to replace the old AC with a new one. Many of the newer air conditioners have sensor systems that detect overflow of water and whether water is leaking inside your home.

Your AC could have a condensate pan if installed in the basement. Before cleaning the condensate pan, turn off the AC system. The pan is usually underneath the unit. You can use a shop vacuum to clean the clogs out. Run it for at least one minute and check whether the clog is still there or not. A telltale sign is to check if your air conditioner is leaking water even after that.

You can use rags to soak excess water and clean the pan with soap. Or you can use distilled vinegar. If you can’t tolerate the smell, add a little peroxide to clear away the odor as well as any remaining clogging particles. Dishwashing liquid along with hot water can also be used. After cleaning, allow the pipe to flush water properly until you see clear water coming out. Turn on the AC and hopefully, water won’t be leaking anymore.

Your home may have a drain pump which is damaged, thus not working properly. Since this pump backs up the whole condensate system of draining, a damage to the pump could be the reason of water leaking. You should replace a damaged pump.

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Check Air Filter

When air filters become excessively dirty, it blocks the flow of air over the evaporator coil. The coil becomes too cold. When the freezing coil melts, excess water drips into the pan and it starts leaking if the pan can’t handle that amount of water. To prevent this from happening, you need to check air filters.

Turn off your AC unit and use a screwdriver to open it. Remove the air filters and check for any damages. If there are any damaged parts then you should replace the filters. But if they just look dirty you could use a vacuum cleaner to suck away any dirt and dust, but chances are that you could end up puncturing the filter.

Use a large basin and pour equal amounts of vinegar and water. Ensure that the filters are completely submerged in the solution. The vinegar will kill off any harmful microbes or allergens stuck in the filter. If these filters have not been cleaned for a while, allow the filters to soak in the solution for at least 4 hours. But you don’t have to keep them soaked for more than an hour if they haven’t been used much. Drain the solution away and keep the filters on a piece of clean cloth or towel to allow them to dry well. Let the filters dry under sunlight. Place the filter back into your unit and you will now get cleaner air with lower chances of dirty water leaking. A good practice is to replace air filters every few months.

Observe Refrigerant Levels

You could notice your air conditioner leaking water when the refrigerant levels are low. This could actuyally be a problem. Lower refrigerant levels create a low pressure within the AC system and cause its evaporator coil to freeze. When the summer or spring time comes, the frozen coil could start to melt and the excess water could cause water leakage. This is why you’ll often see air conditioners not working properly or excessively leaking during these seasons. Refrigerant leaking is also another problem that can’t be ignored.

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You can identify whether your AC is leaking refrigerant by observing two things. The AC would not be able to create a cooling atmosphere and it would make an abnormal hissing sound. If the leak is too severe you might have to replace the whole unit. But if the leak is not as much as you’d thought, you would need to call a professional who could identify the issue and fix it. Remember you would also be charged for recharging your air conditioner with a new refrigerant.

When the summer heat lurks around it’s almost impossible to live without a cooling unit like an air conditioner. In such harsh weather conditions, if your AC starts to leak water it’s a huge problem for the whole family. If you can’t do the repair yourself it’s best to let a professional handle it. However, that would cost you some bucks. Some AC units come with an installed float switch. If your AC doesn’t have a float switch you can ask a professional to install it for you. The float switch would shut down the unit every time water leaks from it. This would alert you to fix your AC immediately and also save energy bills. A small amount of leak may not be a problem, but constant leakage of water could mess your home and damage your AC unit. If your AC is too old it’s best to replace it.


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