It’s 90° in the shade, your AC is working at top capacity, and now you notice—it’s dripping water. What’s going on and what can you do about it? Water leaking from an air conditioner is a fairly common issue, often easily solved, so no need to panic.
How Your AC Works
Your AC works by removing moisture from the air—and lots of it, especially when it’s working at capacity. Water forms on the indoor coil finned surfaces, runs down into the built-in drain pan and is conducted to the drain by way of some type of drainage piping. There are several things that can go amiss as part of that process.
Three Common Causes
There are three reasons that account for an AC leaking water:
The drainage tubing or the outlet of the coil can get plugged with dirt or other contaminants that accumulate over time. If some part of the drain system is stopped up, the water will overflow, usually ending up at the base of the furnace. It actually leaks out of the coil on top of the furnace and runs down to the floor internally through the furnace. Sometimes the water damages electrical components in the furnace when this happens. It can also result in a shutdown of the system if yours is equipped with an overflow cutoff switch.
Another similar cause of leaking is a dirty or clogged filter. This can result in ice forming on the evaporator coils, which will drip as it melts. In addition to the leaking water, a filter that's been clogged for a long time can put an extra strain on your system and decrease its life expectancy.
Finally, you could have a crack or hole in the overflow pan, which catches condensation from the unit.
Start by checking your filter and replacing it if necessary. During the cooling season, it’s recommended that you check the filter monthly or more often. In general you should replace your filters every two or three months, but definitely any time you see them getting dirty.
Next, use a flashlight to inspect the overflow pan. Check along the edges, each corner, and at the area nearest the pooling water. Small holes or cracks can usually be mended using epoxy glue, although a more reliable solution is to replace the pan. If you’re unsure about how to do that, a call to your HVAC pro can help.
If you’re still seeing a leak, it’s time to inspect and clear the drainage line. If it’s a small clog, you may be able to remove it using a wet-dry vac. If that doesn’t solve the issue, it may be time to call your HVAC pro. Cleaning the drain system should be part of regular maintenance and now would be a good time to have that taken care of. It could save you a lot of heartache and cash down the line.
A Dehumidifier May Help
Your AC unit does a lot of work removing moisture from the air. That process can be helped by installing a dehumidifier. There are portable models that can help with problem areas in your home. However, you may want to consider a duct mounted model that integrates with your HVAC system. At Stay Comfy, we recommend the Carrier line of reliable, efficient dehumidifiers.
Need to contact an HVAC pro in your area? We can also help with that, too. Check out our convenient dealer locator.