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Is It Normal for My AC to Leak Water?

Published by Melanie Riggs

Air Conditioning Service Virginia Beach, VA

As a homeowner, it is essential to ensure that all of your home’s systems are working, and your air conditioning is no exception. If you have an AC leaking water, that can be a big clue that something is not right with that system or that it is not working as optimally as it would with some additional maintenance.

During the summer months, you may find that some parts of your home are more vulnerable to malfunctioning, including your air conditioning unit. It is working extra hard to keep your home cool and comfortable. If you live in southeastern Virginia, where it is hot and humid during the summer, the last thing you want is for your air conditioning system to break down.

If water is leaking from your AC, it can also cause water damage to your home. In addition, the leak could indicate that your system has a faulty part. If you do not catch the problem in time, you could need to replace the entire system due to damage. Fortunately, you can call the professionals at Mechanical Service Company to troubleshoot and fix your leaking AC system before it causes damage.

What Are the Signs My AC is Leaking Water?

All air conditioners drip water as part of their operational process. They collect water as they remove moisture and humidity from the air, and that water drips into the drain pan. It is entirely normal for AC units to do that, and this is no cause for alarm. However, if you start to smell mold, notice any puddles on the floor, or find water dripping from the ceiling, it could be a sign of an AC unit leaking water.

You need to determine right away if the source of the leak is your air conditioner. AC repair will be needed at that point, so it is vital that you check out the level of water in the drip pan and see if you can find the source of the excess water leaking from your air conditioning unit. Then, you will want to work with an HVAC technician to correct the problem quickly so you can use your HVAC system again.

Can I Use My AC When It Is Leaking Water? 

As soon as you see that your AC is leaking water, you want to shut off the system. Your AC can run when water is leaking from it, but there is a chance that the water will cause damage to the internal components of your HVAC system. That could lead to a compressor failure and may require you to replace your entire AC system. Naturally, that is something you will want to avoid.

Why is My Air Conditioner Leaking Water

Understanding where the water is coming from is essential when you inspect your indoor unit for problems. Here are some of the most common reasons your HVAC unit may have trouble with a water leak.

Your Condensate Drain Line is Clogged or Disconnected

If you have a drain line that has a clog or blockage, that could be why your AC system is leaking water. The drain line runs to the outside and takes moisture and humidity out of your house. You also have a drain pan, which collects drippings and condensation from the indoor unit. If there is water in the drain pan under the air handler, that means the clogged condensate drain line should be cleaned out.

Clogged drain pans are the most common cause of leaky air conditioning systems. The pans can get clogged with dust and dirt over time, simply from a buildup of these things in the house. Drain pans can also become clogged with algae when water sits in them. The moist, humid environment can lead to stagnant water and, when mixed with the dust, dirt, and bacteria in a home, can start algae and mold growth that can clog up a drain pan.

Another problem that could occur is the drain pipe getting disconnected from the AC unit. That can cause spillage, which can lead to puddles, wet floors, and related kinds of water leakage problems.

Your Drain Pan is Rusted

A damaged drain pan is one of the ways water can leak from your AC unit. Drain pans are solid and durable, but they are not immune to rust if there is enough water and moisture in them for long periods. They are generally made of steel, and steel will rust. Scratches in the finish make it easier for water to get in, as well, and can speed up the rusting of an otherwise solid pan.

Your Air Conditioner is Low On Refrigerant

If your AC has low refrigerant levels, your system might blow warm air. It does not have enough freon or other refrigeration chemicals in it, so it is unable to blow cold air properly. A tune-up can help solve the issue, but in the meantime, you want to watch out for the other issues it could cause.

One of those issues is a frozen evaporator coil. This happens when the AC system is producing hot air, and the evaporator coil is not able to function correctly. It ends up with a lot of condensation on it, which can freeze on the outside of the coil. Not only can this make the inside of your home uncomfortably warm, but it can also cause damage to the coil, which may need replacement.

Your Air Filter is Dirty

If you do not change your air filter every 30 days, you may cause damage to your air conditioner. The indoor air in your home will also not be as clean. A dirty filter does not allow air to flow into your AC system the way it needs to, and that can make the unit work much harder than it otherwise would.

A dirty air filter can cause your AC to leak because it can freeze the evaporator coil. You do not want that to happen, not only because it can create leaks but because it can damage the coil and require that it is replaced. Repairing the problem before it becomes more serious, or harms other components, is the best way to address the issue of a leaking AC system.

Your Condensate Pump is Broken

A broken condensate pump can also be a cause of your AC leaking. If you have an AC unit in the basement, you likely have a pump that carries water created in the AC outside your home. This is the primary job of a condensate pump, and if it breaks, the water will build up. That can quickly lead to leaks and cause problems with water damage inside your home.

Your Air Conditioner Was Not Installed Correctly

If your air conditioner was not installed correctly, it could leak because the drain pan is not angled correctly. There may also be a condensate line that is not hooked up or that is backing up or clogging. Indoor units need to be level, and they should drain properly and have enough refrigerant. Improper installation can cause issues with all of these things.

What Are the Dangers of a Leaky Air Conditioner?

If your AC is repaired quickly, any water leaking from it is generally insufficient to cause severe damage. However, some problems can occur when you have a leaking AC unit.

It May Cause Mold and Mildew

Anytime water enters your walls, flooring, ceilings, carpeting, or other locations where it does not belong, it can cause mold and mildew to grow.

It Can Damage Your Insulation

Water leaking into walls and ceilings can seep into your home’s insulation. When that occurs, the insulation becomes wet, starts to mildew, and may not protect your home as well as it should.

It Can Drip On Your AC’s Electrical Components

There are many electrical components in your AC unit. Water dripping on them could cause them to short out. This may stop the unit from working, trip a circuit breaker, or even cause a fire.

How Do I Stop My Air Conditioner from Leaking Water? 

Step One: Turn the Air Conditioner Off

When water leaks, that is a sign that your AC is malfunctioning. Turn the thermostat off to stop the water leak and reduce further damage to the unit.

Step Two: Clean Up Any Leaks

You want to clean up the water that has leaked out of your AC unit, so it does not cause mold or mildew problems.

Step Three: Look for Ice

Check your evaporator coils and outdoor unit, looking for ice. If you find ice, your coils will need to thaw out. You can use a warm rag to help thaw them faster, but do not chip or pick at the ice. You could damage the coils.

Step Four: Check Your Air Filter 

If your air filter is dirty, you want to make sure you change it right away. A good test to determine whether to replace the filter is to see whether you can shine light through it. If you cannot, it needs replacing.

Step Five: Check Your Drain Pipe 

If you have a clogged drain line, you can usually unclog it yourself. Do that by pouring warm water and vinegar through it from the inside or using a shop vac to remove any clogs or debris from it, typically from the outside opening.

Step Six: Call An HVAC Professional

You do not want to have any further damage to your air conditioner. By calling an HVAC professional, you can make sure to get the help and support you need to get your AC unit fixed quickly and efficiently.

How Do I Prevent My AC From Dripping Water in the Future? 

Change Your Air Filter Every 30 Days

A dirty air filter is a big problem for your AC unit. To help keep the system as healthy as possible, and to allow the unit to draw in the air that it needs for good operation, make sure your change the filter every 30 days.

Schedule Yearly Maintenance

You need to have professional maintenance performed on your AC system every spring to prepare for the summer season. That helps avoid most AC problems. Your technician should check the drain pan for rust or cracks and use a treatment that keeps algae from growing in the pan. You can also expect the tech to flush the drain line and ensure the condensate pump works correctly.

Prevent Strain on Your AC

If you operate your AC unit when it is below 60 degrees outside, your coils can freeze. Instead, open your windows to cool your home. If Hampton Roads is experiencing a heat wave, keep your house at 78℉ to protect your AC unit from becoming overworked.

At MSCO, We Specialize in Your Comfort

We want you to be comfortable in your home and feel confident in the air conditioning system you have. Call our Virginia Beach office at (757) 427-0016, or reach out to us through our online contact form to schedule an appointment with our specialists today.

Find Out What Our Clients Say About Us

Read Our Trusted Reviews

Technician Rick did an outstanding job of completing my annual service check, correcting minor problems and cleaning my system prior to the summer season. What impressed me most is that he took the time to point out other issues in my attic (loose fitting at the hot water heater) and even outside (water spigot leaking) and fixed both on his own since they were easy fixes. What a great service professional and so rare to find someone honest and willing to take a few extra moments to help out. Thanks for a great experience!

- Mark B.

Technician Rick did an outstanding job of completing my annual service check, correcting minor problems and cleaning my system prior to the summer season. What impressed me most is that he took the time to point out other issues in my attic (loose fitting at the hot water heater) and even outside (water spigot leaking) and fixed both on his own since they were easy.

- Mark B.

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