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AC Troubleshooting: Why Is Your AC Leaking & the Steps to Take

October 12, 2020

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It's the middle of a sweltering summer, and it's hot. You've noticed that your air conditioning system isn't working as well as it has in the past. You go to inspect your cooling unit and see moisture pooling on the windowsill. Your first question, "is my AC supposed to leak water?" The answer is, no way! 

air conditioning unit leaking water in home

Air conditioners are not supposed to leak. Period. There are multiple reasons why your AC might be leaking inside of your home, and that's exactly what we're going to explore in this article. We'll also take a look at some steps to troubleshooting the problem, such as turning your thermostat off, inspecting the condensate line, and checking out the drain pan. Stopping an AC leak as quickly as possible is imperative, and we'll tell you how to get it done should you wonder, "is my air AC supposed to leak water"?

According to American Family Insurance, not all homeowner policies will cover water damages that are caused by gradual leaks. Guess what? An AC leak falls into the incremental water damage category. We cannot stress enough how important it is to explore the root cause of your cooling system's leak and ways to correct the problem. You may discover that calling a professional is the route to go if you can't remedy the issue yourself.

Is My AC Supposed to Leak Water? What's Going On?!

Have you recently asked yourself that question after seeing puddles of water on the floor under your air conditioning unit? You might be wondering what the problem is and if it is normal for an AC to leak. The answer is a hard NO. You should never see water dripping or spitting out of your air conditioner. If you do, it's time to investigate.

The inner workings of your AC contain an evaporator coil. This coil cools down the hot air that passes over it, which in turn causes a condensation response. The water on the coil then drips into the drain pan and into the condensate line. Once the liquid hits the condensate line, it is supposed to drain through a PVC pipe on the outside of your house. When this path goes awry for any reason, it can cause leaks to occur.

Before you reach for the phone to call a professional HVAC specialist, you can attempt to determine the cause of the leak on your own. Your first and most crucial step is to switch off the AC's thermostat. No day is ever a good day to be electrocuted. 

Does it matter the type of AC unit you have? Generally, no. All air conditioners have an evaporator coil, drain pan, and condensate line that follow the fundamental pathway outlined above.

HVAC repair explaining leak to homeowner

Possible Causes for an AC to Leak Water

Let's explore some probable causes of why your AC is leaking water and what you can do to stop water from pooling in your home and get back outside where it belongs.

  • An overabundance of condensation - Although some condensation is a normal part of a properly functioning air conditioner, too much can lead to leaks
  • Drain pan problems - You probably wish you could say that your AC has 99 problems, but a drain pan isn't one, but unfortunately, this is likely to be the case. Improperly installed drain pans, or a lack of drain pan altogether, is a common problem in older AC units
  • Clogged condensate pump - When the pump is blocked, the water has nowhere to go, so it ends up on your floor
  • Loose drain line connections - Drain lines can loosen or completely disconnect over time
  • Issues with evaporator coils - Coils can become dirty, damaged, and even freeze, which will lead to AC leaks
  • Grimy air filters - Air conditioners have air filters that require regular cleaning. If they are left neglected, you'll probably start to see leaks occurring
  • Joint problems - This affects split units versus window units. Normal wear and tear and damage to the joint can cause leaking

How Do I Stop My Air Conditioner From Leaking?

One thing to keep in mind before you set out to repair your AC unit on a DIY scale is that you might need the assistance of a licensed HVAC specialist. Companies like Kingwood AC Repair Pros have the experience, knowledge, and tools to adequately fix your AC in a minimal amount of time. Should you have to call upon the AC cavalry, don't feel defeated. There's no shame in asking for help, especially when it's hot out and your AC isn't behaving as it should.

Before reaching out to Kingwood AC Repair Pros, try a few troubleshooting mechanisms first. Here are a couple of basic things you can do:

  1. Experiment with the thermostat settings. Sometimes, changing the settings will completely rectify the leak problem, and all will be well with the world again.
  2. Tidy up the air filter. Remember when we talked about having a dirty air filter and how it can cause leaks? Check to see if your filter is grimy and clean it out. This will allow for better airflow and lessen the formation of ice.
  3. Check for drain line clogs. Most window units come with drain lines and drip pans. Should there be debris in the line, the water won't flow freely into the pan but rather onto your floor, which is a mega bummer. Ain't nobody got time for water damage.

These are the most common causes of an AC leaking water and how you can fix them. However, if these tips don't stop the leak, then the problem might be more advanced and will require the expertise of an HVAC technician.

air conditioner leak repair

The Big Question...Can We Use the AC When Water is Leaking Out of It?

In short, yes. However, as the saying goes, just because you can doesn't mean you should. One of the biggest fears homeowners may have about running an AC unit that is leaking water is the fact that the system is powered by electricity. We all know that electricity and water do not play well together. Although there is a risk of keeping your AC on while it is leaking, this risk is minimal in the context of electrical shock.

The number one reason why you may want to reconsider running your leaky AC is because of water damage. Your AC is only going to leak while it is turned on. Consistent pooling of water can cause the following problems:

  • Destruction of flooring and furniture
  • Damage to drywall and ceilings
  • Damage to the unit itself
  • Mold and mildew formation
  • Damage to your home's structure
  • The appearance of unsightly watermarks
  • Bubbling of paint and plaster

If you are worried about property damage due to your AC leaking water, you can always turn the unit off until you fix the problem. If you're eager to get your cooling system up and running again, we highly recommend calling a professional HVAC company like Kingwood AC Repair Pros for fast, affordable service.

home ac unit leaking

It's About to Get Serious! More Than Just An AC Water Leak: Freon Dribbles

Sometimes the "water" you're noticing isn't water at all and is actually a substance called freon. Freon is a material found in AC units, refrigerators, freezers, etc. that were manufactured before 2010. Section 608 of The Clean Air Act states have banned the use of freon, otherwise known as R-22. RSI (The Refrigeration School) says, "In the United States, the Clean Air Act mandates that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protect and improve air quality and stratospheric ozone layer. In implementing the law, the EPA is phasing out substances that destroy the ozone layer and contribute to global warming, including the popular refrigerant R-22 (HCFC-22)".

If your AC was manufactured after 2010, you needn't worry about it leaking freon. However, older models are a different story.

Are you experiencing one or more of the following issues you might have a freon leak:

  • Weak airflow coming from vents
  • Air coming from vents isn't cold no matter how high the setting
  • Evaporator coils are frozen over
  • AC taking longer than usual to cool down your space

If you experience any of these issues AND your air conditioner was made before 2010, you need to contact a professional HVAC consultant immediately. Kingwood AC Repair Pros have experience with freon air conditioning systems and can help you. Freon is a dangerous substance and should not be handled by a non-professional. Plus, the longer you let the freon leak go, the higher your energy bills will be as your AC struggles to work correctly.

Now You Know That Your AC Should Not be Leaking Water

A leaky air conditioner unit is never a good sign and should always be addressed promptly. Take a few moments to troubleshoot the problem yourself. If it appears your leak problem is due to one of the typical reasons listed above and can be easily corrected, go for it! The sooner you get to the bottom of the issue, the sooner you can be enjoying your cold air again.

Remember, should you discover that your leak is caused by a large-scale problem that is beyond your capabilities, there is no shame in reaching out to a technician for help. Trying to repair an air conditioner when you aren't quite sure how to do so will almost always result in further damages that will cost you more money in the end. When freon is the culprit, ALWAYS call a professional HVAC specialist.

Now that you know the primary reasons why your AC is leaking water, you can feel confident in your troubleshooting capabilities. Knowing what to and what not to do is imperative in terms of AC leak issues, and you can consider yourself armed with all the concrete knowledge that you need.

ac repair and maintenance with local HVAC company

A Word from Our HVAC Specialists in Kingwood, TX

This article was put together by the Texan professionals at AC Repair Kingwood. We believe that every homeowner should be able to obtain valid and informative knowledge about their home systems. When you experience an air conditioner unit leak or require an AC repair near Kingwood, TX, we've got you covered!

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