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How to Deal with Air Conditioner Water Leaks

Home > QRC Blog > How to Deal with Air Conditioner Water Leaks

Clogged Condensate Drain Line

Seeing water dripping from an indoor unit is a sign something is wrong. Water leaks from AC units can lead to serious problems. Addressing them quickly can avoid bigger air conditioning repairs and issues such as mold or water damage. Failing to address a leak promptly can also lead to indoor air quality issues and costly equipment and property repairs.

To help you avoid serious trouble, we’ll look at the signs and causes of AC water leaks, when to call a professional, and how you can prevent an AC leak. 

Signs of AC Water Leaks

The most notable sign of a leak is a water drip from the air handler or evaporator coil. The water itself isn’t harmful to people but it can lead to other problems and should be addressed promptly. Other signs of a water leak to look for include:

  • A puddle of water under the unit
  • Increased humidity in your home
  • Mold or mildew near the AC

However, you may be dealing with a refrigerant leak if there’s a sweet smell or chemical odor. If your AC is losing refrigerant, it is at risk of a breakdown. Refrigerant leaks are often accompanied by hissing or bubbling sounds from an AC unit. You should perform a visual inspection to identify the source of the leak.

Causes of AC Water Leaks

There are many causes of AC water leaks. While your air conditioner will continue working if it’s leaking water, it may cool your home less effectively. The excess water and moisture can also cause damage. Plus, there’s the underlying problem, which may involve a component that must be repaired or replaced. 

Common causes of AC leaks include:

  • Clogged Condensate Drain Line: An AC collects water and the condensate drain system removes it (to dehumidify the air). In the process, dirt and debris can collect in the drain line, blocking it and causing water to overflow into your home.

Some newer ACs automatically shut off if a drain line clog is detected. If not, shut down the unit and check the drain pan for standing water. You can empty it or clear the drain line with a long wire brush (or a pump or vacuum for severe clogs). 

  • Damaged Drain Pan: If the drain pan is damaged or corroded, water may leak instead of flowing into the drain line. Look for cracks in the drain pan, which can be patched using a water-resistant sealant. A rusted drain pan should be replaced with one of the same size.
  • Disconnected Drain Line: Drain lines can loosen over time, but errors during repairs or installation can also cause the drain line to leak. You’ll need an HVAC technician to reconnect the line and prevent future problems. 
  • Broken Condensate Pump: A condensation pump helps remove water from the system if it’s in a remote location like the basement or attic. If the pump fails, water will accumulate and leak from your AC.
  • Faulty Float Switch: The float switch triggers the condensate pump as the water level rises. A malfunctioning switch won’t turn the pump on, preventing water from draining properly. A professional must address condensate pump and float switch problems.
  • Excess Condensation: Condensation can build up due to a clogged duct, a dirty air filter, a blocked drain pump, or contact between poorly insulated ducts and warm air. High summer humidity can also increase the risk of condensation buildup.
  • Frozen Evaporator Coil: If the coil freezes, it can lead to moisture buildup. The ice that forms can melt and cause water to leak. A frozen coil is often due to blocked airflow or a refrigerant leak.
  • Clogged Filter: A dirty filter can cause the evaporator coil to freeze and damage your AC system. Fortunately, it’s easy to change or clean the filter yourself. Remember to do this more frequently during the peak season.

When to Call a Professional

If changing the filter or clearing the condensate line has fixed the problem, great. You don’t have to do anything else. However, if the issue involves the evaporator coil or a mechanical component, a professional must assess and diagnose it and perform any necessary repairs.

When there’s a problem such as a refrigerant leak or a blockage deeper in the drain line, damage to your HVAC system and home is imminent. A technician has the tools to identify and repair it. Don’t delay calling for service if there are additional problems such as a frozen coil, unusual noises, or your AC isn’t cooling your home properly.

Why Is It Important to Address an AC Water Leak Quickly?

When water is leaking from your air conditioner, a timely intervention can result in:

  • Improved cooling performance and comfort
  • Improved humidity control
  • Less damage to floors, ceilings, and furnishings
  • Fewer indoor air quality concerns
  • Lower repair and replacement costs
  • Prevention of compressor failure

How Can I Prevent an AC Water Leak?

Regular maintenance can prevent leaks. During your annual AC tune-up, a technician will check for issues that can cause leaks. However, every six months, you can pour bleach down the drain line to clean it, remove germs, and prevent mold. Insulating your ductwork can also prevent water leaks. Changing the filter every three months, or more often at times of peak demand, will as well. And, always make sure your AC is installed, repaired, and maintained by an experienced professional.

Call QRC to Fix Your AC Water Leak Today

If you have signs of a water leak from your air conditioner, don’t delay calling for help. You can prevent substantial damage and costly repairs. A leak is never normal, whether it’s caused by increased humidity, a clogged drain line, or an issue with a pump, the evaporator coil, or low refrigerant. If you’re unable to resolve a simple issue, our team provides same-day AC service and can diagnose and correct any problem with any make or model. We are available 24/7 in the Winston-Salem area. Call (336) 585-8408 for prompt service.