Why would my A/C leak water?

Water leaking calls are one of the most common service request we get in Oklahoma and North Texas. They can cause a lot of damage and heartache for homeowners. When the water leaks, depending on where your unit is located, can damage ceilings, walls, floors, platforms that the unit sits on and more.

 

The Importance of Plumbing Maintenance

What causes this water to leak? The water leaking is actually condensation that is pulled out of the air by your air conditioning coil. As the warm air moves over the cold ac coil, water condenses and runs down the coil into a condensate pan. In a perfect world, the coil has been maintained and is clean, so the water runs smoothly down it, the pan is clean and free of sludge, the condensate piping is clear, sloped correctly and drains like a champ. Unfortunately, in the real world where equipment isn’t maintained, we see the opposite.

The Importance of Plumbing Maintenance
  1. Dirty Coils– The air that comes into contact with your coil should be clean filtered air, but if the air filter isn’t good, is leaky or worse no filter at all, then all the dust and debris get caught in the coil. This causes the water that forms to not drain smoothly down your coil plus it leads to more problems.
  2. Clogged Drain Lines– The condensate that is made exits the unit by a condensate line. Most of the time it is a white pvc line. When this line gets clogged up with the dust, debris plus microbial growth from your drain pan, then it causes water to back up and spill over causing a big mess.
  3. Clogged Drain Pans– Your ac drain pan is a perfect climate for microbial growth. It’s cool, dark and wet. Algae and mold can grow quickly and not only clog up your drain pan, but also it makes for some very unsafe indoor air quality being distributed inside your home. Plus, all that dirt and debris that gets past your filter can build up inside the drain pan as well. Rust is also an issue as the system gets older and the metal starts to corrode and break down from years of being exposed to water. All of this can block the opening to the condensate drain line and cause a major issue.
  4. Cracked drain pans and drain lines– As the system ages, the stress of operation can cause cracks. These cracks then leak out the water. If you’re AC freezes up, the expansion of the water freezing can also cause the drain pans to be cracked.
  5. Low Refrigerant– When you’re AC system gets low on refrigerant, it won’t cool as effectively by it can also cause the coil to freeze. When it starts to thaw, it can drip water and overflow the pan. It also can expand and cause the cracks to the drain pan addressed above.

What can be done to prevent it?

  1. Annual Tune-ups– You should have your HVAC system checked at least once a year and most manufacturers recommend twice a year. With maintenance, we can make sure there aren’t filtration problems causing the coil to get dirty plus we can clean it all up to improve the IAQ. This is also where we may find minor issues before it becomes a major issue including checking the refrigerant charge.
  2. Treat & Clean Drain Lines– The condensate drain lines need to be flushed and cleaned at least annually.
  3. Pan Treatment– The condensate pan needs a pan treatment strip or pan tabs to help continually clean the pan and the drain line. A UV Air purification light installed also helps keep the coil and pan clean by not allowing any microbial growth to occur. This keeps the sludge from building up and prevents clogs.
  4. Condensate Safety Switch and Ceiling Savers– These safety devices install in the drain line or the drain pan and shut the system off when it detects a clogged line that would cause an overflow. When they shut the system off, it can’t produce any more water and it gives you a chance to call a professional. You will know its tripped because the thermostat will be blank.
  5. Leak Monitors– These devices work to alert you when they detect even a few drops of water. You can get a text on your phone or email to let you know there is an issue. They also have an audible alarm to alert you if at home. We recommend not only having these in or around your AC system, but also around your water heaters, under sinks, washing machines or anywhere else you are concerned that a water leak would cause damage.
The Importance of Plumbing Maintenance

What causes this water to leak? The water leaking is actually condensation that is pulled out of the air by your air conditioning coil. As the warm air moves over the cold ac coil, water condenses and runs down the coil into a condensate pan. In a perfect world, the coil has been maintained and is clean, so the water runs smoothly down it, the pan is clean and free of sludge, the condensate piping is clear, sloped correctly and drains like a champ. Unfortunately, in the real world where equipment isn’t maintained, we see the opposite.