Five possible reasons you’re noticing water leaking from your air conditioner in or outside the house:
- Dirty Filter
- Cracked, Old Or Rusted Drain Pan
- Clogged Drain Line
- Frozen Evaporator Coil
- Low Refrigerant
Water dripping from your air conditioner is never a good sign. That’s the same whether you’ve got an old-fashioned window unit, newer portable model, or central air. With a central air system, you may notice this happening inside or outside your house. Either one deserves your attention.
And, the good news is that it’s often an easy fix! With a little know-how, you can take care of this problem on your own. Other times, however, you’ll need a professional.
We’re reviewing five of the most common causes in this article. You’ll learn why it happens and what you can do to fix it if there’s a safe and easy DIY solution. For the most part, we’re focusing on central air units.
And, if you need a professional or have any questions about the cooling system in your Camp Hill or York, PA home — or anywhere in Central Pennsylvania — call or email us here at Air Comfort Technologies.
A dirty air filter in your HVAC system can cause all sorts of problems. Weak airflow is a common one. Or your system short-cycling: turning on and off very quickly, over and over again. With your cooling system, another common problem is water leaking.
When the filter is clogged, air won’t pass through it. That means less air hitting the evaporator coil, and that throws off the cooling process. As a result, the coil can freeze over. When that ice melts, it drips out of the unit.
What To Do About It
Changing the filter is fast, inexpensive, and easy. You should do it once a month even if you don’t notice problems. If you haven’t done it in a while, do it now.
A filter that’s grey when you take it out has been in there way too long. It’s white when it goes in, and the darker color means it’s full of dirt. If the leak goes away with the new filter, you’ve solved the problem.
Cracked, Old Or Rusted Drain Pan
The drain pan, or drip pan, sits under the evaporator coils. With a central air unit, you’ll usually find it mounted on top of your furnace. Then, there’s a pipe coming out from it. Sometimes you see that pipe sticking out halfway up the stack that makes up your indoor HVAC unit. Other times, it runs near the floor.
Either way, condensation drips from the coils and into the shallow pan. That water drains out through the piping. Unless, of course, something’s wrong.
If the pan is cracked, rusted, or otherwise damaged, you’ll notice a leak. The water can’t take the usual path out through the pipe.
What To Do About It
If there’s a hatch on your indoor system near the drainpipe, you can assess the situation yourself. But, you need to be very careful. You don’t want to break anything or — even worse — hurt yourself.
Turn off the unit and open the hatch. Visually inspect the drain pan. Is it old and worn-out? Do you see rust or cracks? Is water getting out before reaching the pipe? If so, there’s the problem.
Technically, you can replace the pan yourself. But, we don’t recommend it. There are a few delicate clips you don’t want to break. Disconnecting the pipe usually requires tools. If you put it back together wrong, you can damage something or cause a leak if something’s misaligned.
But, at least you’ve found the problem. And, you can call in a pro to make sure it’s done right.
Clogged Drain Line
Next is the drain line itself. An obstruction causes water to back up into the pan and then overflow. Common culprits are mold and algae, or dirt and debris, building up inside there. Either way, you can check this while checking the drain pan.
What To Do About It
If the drain pan is full with no sign of damage, you could have a backup. To clear the pipe yourself, turn off the system. Place the hose of a wet/dry vac over the open end of the line. Seal up the opening using a rag, towel, or duct tape.
Then, run the shop vac for two minutes. Hopefully, you’ll pull out anything stuck in there. You’ll probably notice a lot of brown water coming out once the backup gets cleared. And, if it keeps happening, call for a professional cleaning.
Frozen Evaporator Coil
We mentioned a frozen evaporator coil before. And, a clogged air filter isn’t the only cause of it. Dust and dirt can get into the system and builds up there. Then, the air passing over it doesn’t cool. As a result, the coil gets too cold, and ice forms on it.
If you’ve checked the pan, pipe, and air filter and still see the leak, this may be the problem.
What To Do About It
There’s nothing you can do yourself about this problem. You need a professional to open the system and clean it out. But, you can prevent it with a yearly tune-up. That way, a tech cleans out the system before you start using it for the summer.
When your AC works properly, you’ll never run out of refrigerant. It runs in a closed loop through the system as part of the cooling process. But, if there’s a leak somewhere, then your central air won’t work correctly. And, one sign of it is a leak.
Once again, the cooling process is thrown off, and you may have ice forming somewhere in the system. Eventually, it seeps out when it becomes liquid again. You can tell this is the problem if you smell a sweet, chemical scent or notice a hissing sound.
Both are signs that the refrigerant is escaping somewhere. What To Do About It
Unfortunately, this problem also requires a professional. Someone needs to locate the leak, patch it properly, and then recharge the unit. It’s a simple procedure unless you’ve had your AC for more than ten years. In that case, it uses a type of coolant that’s not readily available.
AC Service And Repairs In Camp Hill, PA
Ultimately, the best solution for a leaking air conditioner is prevention. When you get a yearly AC tune-up, you head off the clogs, cracks, and build-up problems that lead to this issue. If you live in Camp Hill or anywhere near Camp Hill, PA, you can call or email Air Comfort for all your AC service and repair needs.