When attempting to pinpoint why your AC unit is leaking, you should first figure out if the leak is water or refrigerant. In most cases, it’s just water, but refrigerant leaks are not uncommon, particularly in older or unmaintained units.
Here’s everything you need to know about leaky air conditioners, including what causes leaks and how to handle them.
Common Causes of AC Leaks
Some of these common problems can be fixed by a handy homeowner. Others require the services of a professional.
Evaporator Coil Condensation
The air conditioner’s evaporator coil is designed to cool the warm air that passes over it. The resulting condensation usually falls into a drip pan or drain line and is then carried away from your home. When you discover puddles of water in places they don’t belong, it’s safe to assume there’s a problem somewhere in the unit itself.
Dirty Air Filter
Dirty air filters block airflow to the evaporator coil and cause it to become too cold. When it freezes, the higher volume of water from the melting ice can overwhelm the drip pan, resulting in a leak. Fortunately, this is an easy fix nearly anyone can perform. Swap out the air filter and then remember to replace it every one to three months, depending on how quickly dirt and debris accumulate.
Damaged or Rusted Drain Pan
Since your AC unit’s drain pan catches any water that drips, it can, over time, become rusted or damaged. You’ll usually notice this type of problem on older units or those over 10 years old. You can replace the part yourself or have a professional do it as part of your regular air conditioning maintenance.
Clogged Condensate Drain Line
This is one of the most frequent causes of an AC water leak. Condensate drain lines frequently become clogged with dirt, dust, mold, and sludge. When they do, water backs up in your home. A professional HVAC service provider has industrial strength equipment such as wet/dry vacs to unclog the condensate line quickly and efficiently.
Broken Condensate Pump
Air conditioning units located in basements have a condensate pump that transfers water outside the home. If the pump breaks, the water backs up in the unit. Having the pump replaced fixes the problem.
If you notice your AC isn’t cooling as well as it usually does, or if you hear a hissing or bubbling noise, you most likely have a refrigerant leak. Some DIYers use a sealant to stop the leak, but this is a temporary solution that often ends up doing more harm than good. Your best bet is to have a professional HVAC technician repair the leak. If the system is over 15 years old, or if it’s younger and you notice a decrease in performance and efficiency, consider replacing it.
Don’t Ignore Air Conditioner Leaks
Whether it’s water or refrigerant that’s leaking, it’s never a good idea to ignore an AC leak. Leaks are never a normal part of your air conditioning unit’s operation. While refrigerant leaks can seem more serious, anything that impedes your AC’s optimal performance can have long-term consequences, including higher utility bills.
Since 1927, North Town Home Services has provided HVAC and appliance repair, installation, replacement, and maintenance services to homeowners throughout Chicago and the surrounding area. To schedule an appointment to fix your AC leak problem, contact us online today or call us at (847) 999-4600.