A leak in your air conditioner always leads to an inconvenient mess in your household. However, it can also be a sign that there is a significant problem with your unit. Even though all AC units collect water, leaks never happen when a unit is functioning properly. Leaks can lead to infrastructural damage in your home, and continuing to operate your unit will only make things worse.
The good news is that you can easily remedy the problem with the help of a professional HVAC specialist. Below, we’ll detail how leaks come about and outline six of the leading sources of water leaks in air conditioner units.
What Should You Do If Your Air Conditioner Begins to Leak?
Before getting into the causes of water leakage, you should know what to do if you are currently experiencing this problem. Even though leaks can indicate important problems with your AC unit, they rarely cause a total shutdown. Despite this, you should immediately turn off your air conditioner whenever a leak arises.
Continuing to operate your AC unit can lead to further damage and more expensive repair costs. In addition, the water damage that arises when your air conditioner leaks can create a vast amount of foundational problems in your walls, ceiling, electrical and other important household components. Along with creating conditions for mold growth, turning off your AC is the most important thing to do when you have a leak.
The next most important thing to do is to consult an HVAC specialist about your leak issues. Since a variety of issues can lead to water leaks, an expert can help identify the exact source of the problem and rectify the issue in the most efficient and precise fashion.
What Causes AC Units to Leak?
To understand why air conditioner units experience leakages, it helps to learn about why your AC accumulates moisture. As the evaporator coils in your AC unit cool the air, the dehumidification process causes water condensation to occur. This moisture usually collects in the drain pan and drains outside through the condensate drain line.
Leaks occur when one or several of these mechanisms are not functioning properly. These malfunctions can arise for a variety of different reasons, and pinpointing these causes will eliminate the leak at its source. They include:
1. Poor or Compromised Air Flow
We’re putting airflow at the top of this list because it affects so many other functions in your air conditioner unit. In order for your AC unit to operate at its best, it needs clean air to flow through the system. As such, your air filters need to be in good condition. If your air filters have accumulated too much dirt, particles and debris, this can cause your airflow to be inadequate.
Dirty air filters not only present compromises to the air quality in your home, but they can also lead to malfunctions in your AC unit. Dirty air filters will cause the air to accumulate excess debris that can clog your air conditioner’s drain line. Obstructed airflow also enhances the likelihood of frozen evaporator coils, causing a potential buildup of excess moisture. Both consequences can lead to water leakage, so keeping clean air filters is a must.
2. Clogging of Your Condensate Drain Line
The condensate drain line in your AC unit is primarily responsible for removing water after the dehumidifying process. When this water collects, small amounts of dirt and debris begin to collect in the drain line. As long as technicians clean the condensate drain line regularly, there is no need to worry about potential clogs. However, condensate drain lines can begin to clog if the dirt and debris are not removed.
If a condensate drain line clog occurs, the drain pan will eventually overflow with water and cause a leak. Drain line clogs are so common that many modern AC units feature an automatic kill-switch in case one happens. If you don’t have an automatic kill-switch in your air conditioner, you’ll need to turn off the unit manually.
3. Damage to the Drain Pan
The purpose of your drain pan is to collect the condensed moisture that accumulates during dehumidification. The drain pan is connected to the condensate drain line that dumps the water outside. Normally speaking, the average drain pan can last anywhere between 15 to 20 years. If your drain pan is older than that, it may be the source of the leaks in your air conditioner.
If your AC unit is new, you more than likely don’t have to worry about leaks from your drain pan. However, drain pans from older units may have rust or other forms of damage that can lead to water leaks. Regardless of the source of damage, a broken drain pan should be replaced immediately.
4. Frozen Evaporator Coils
Evaporator coils are absolutely vital to your air conditioner’s functionality. In order to operate, they need refrigerant and clean, consistent airflow. If airflow is obstructed or there is an insufficient amount of refrigerant, the coils will eventually start freezing. Frozen evaporator coils not only lead to warmer air buildup, they can also cause excess condensation in the drain pan. The excess moisture eventually spills and leaks back into the household.
5. Broken Float Switch or Condensate Pump
The condensate pump in your AC unit is responsible for removing condensed water from the condensate drain line. Once the condensate pump’s reservoir is full, a float switch signals the release of the collected water. In order for this process to function properly, both the condensate pump and the float switch need to be in good condition.
If either of these components is broken, then the condensed water cannot dump outside the house. A malfunction with the condensate pump or float will cause the condensate drain line to fill up with water and leak out of the drain pan.
6. Improper Installation
If your household just received a new air conditioning unit, leaking water can indicate that it was not installed properly. For instance, if your AC unit was installed on an uneven surface, then it might cause water to spill into the house. A leak might also occur if drain pipes are disproportionate to the air conditioner pipes. Flat window unit installations can also lead to substantial water leakage.
Get Professional Repair Services to Handle Your AC Leaks
The above causes demonstrate some of the most consistent reasons why water leakages occur. However, a number of other factors can also contribute to this problem. To figure out the exact reasons for water leakage in your AC unit, you should consult an experienced and trusted HVAC technician to help you out.
Our specialists at HB Home Service Team provide Randallstown, Maryland and the neighboring areas with comprehensive HVAC and plumbing services. We’ll not only take care of any leaks or repairs that you might need, but we’ll make sure that your AC unit is properly installed the first time around. If you’re experiencing a leak with your air conditioner, contact HB Home Service Team.