When you think about a leak, you think about plumbers, right? There the ones who fix these pesky problems. But, what if that leak is coming from your air conditioner?
There’re not many homeowners who wouldn’t be surprised to hear that water can leak from a cooling system, as they didn’t know their air conditioner used water to operate, unless it’s an evaporative cooler.
So here’s the thing—your air conditioner doesn’t use water in its process.
“Wait, What? Where Is That Water Leak Coming from Then?”
The water is actually coming from the air within your home. There’s always some level of moisture—humidity—in the form of water vapor within the air of your home. You’ve seen this water vapor condense (turn into liquid form) before. Think about when you drink a glass of cold water on a warm day—you notice condensation form on the outside of the glass.
This same process occurs as warm air moves over the cool condenser coil of your air conditioning system. Refrigerant (which does not include water) moving through your evaporator coil absorbs heat from the air in your home blowing over it. The coil cools down as a result, allowing dehumidification. Water vapor then collects on the coil, and a condensate drainage system is in place to drain that moisture away.
When Your Condensate System Fails
Under normal circumstances, water drips off of your indoor evaporator coil into a tray under the coil unit. This tray is positioned at an angle, enabling water to drip into a hole at the bottom edge of the train that leads to a condensate drain—that is, a pipe that leads outdoors and away from your property. But, things can go wrong:
- The drainpipe can get clogged up with dirt and debris, forcing water to backup and overflow from the tray.
- The tray might get jostled out of the place, or it may not have been positioned properly to begin with.
- The indoor evaporator coil can freeze over if it doesn’t get enough airflow. When this all thaws at once, the condensate drain may not be enough to keep water from spilling out into your home.
- You may have a particularly humid household that requires you to have a condensate pump to help move water along. This is not uncommon for our area!
Can You Prevent Air Conditioner Leaks?
Yes! First off, you should make sure you’re changing the cooling system’s air filter on a routine basis to keep air flowing, and prevent the indoor coil from freezing over.
Secondly, you should make sure you schedule maintenance on an annual basis—or twice a year if you have a heat pump. This allows our technicians to thoroughly inspect your HVAC system, thwarting any problems before they have a chance to turn into bigger emergencies.
Lastly, if you ever suspect your air conditioner has a leak or some other type of problem, the best thing you can do is only allow a professional to take a look and inspect. A general handyman may simply not cut it, especially if the problem ends up being something else—like a potentially hazardous refrigerant leak instead of a water leak.
If you suspect or notice any type of fluid coming from your air conditioner, know that it shouldn’t be, and please give us a call right away!