My AC Unit Is Leaking. What Do I Do?

by Team eLocal
Two workers on the roof of a building working on the air conditioning unit.

Where’s that water coming from? After ruling out the usual (plumbing) suspects, you might find that your air conditioner is responsible for the leak.

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Now to get to the root of the problem. Here’s how to troubleshoot an air conditioner leak.

Why Is My AC Leaking?

There are several potential causes for an AC leaking water. In some instances, the best bet is simply to call a professional HVAC technician to diagnose and repair the problem, but there are a few things you can check first.

Your Leaking AC Unit Has Dirty Coils

Dirt and grime interfere with how moisture moves through your air conditioner. If you notice that your coils are dirty, it could explain why your air conditioner is leaking water. All that gunk keeps water from entering the drain pan, and it may accumulate in other places instead. Try giving your coils a thorough cleaning to see if that resolves the problem, and make sure you clean your coils regularly to prevent problems in the future.

Your Drain Line or Trap Is Clogged

The drain line removes collected condensation from your home, and it can also become overrun with dirt and grime. If you don’t clean your drain line and drip pan routinely, you could find yourself cleaning up a mess on your floor when the line clogs and water begins to back up.

The Drain Line Wasn’t Connected Properly

Whoever installed the air conditioning unit might not have set it up correctly. One of the most common installation errors involves the drain line. This is why many people discover water leaking from their HVAC unit and don’t know how to stop it. Unfortunately, the best fix for this is to call in a professional. You may need to reconfigure your drain line, and HVAC technicians are equipped to do it correctly.

Your Insulation Needs to Be Replaced

When working as intended, insulation keeps moisture flowing around your air conditioner coils so it can drain. Damaged insulation needs to be replaced, or the problem will persist. This is normally a job for a professional.

What Is Leaking From My AC Unit?

Most of the time, it’s water that you find leaking from an air conditioner unit. Some air conditioners use liquid refrigerants, and you could run into an AC coolant leak on occasion. It’s important not to attempt to repair coolant leaks on your own. Air conditioning coolant is toxic and corrosive, so you and your loved ones could be injured if you don’t take precautions.

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How Do I Stop the Leak?

The first thing you should do when you notice an air conditioning leak is to check for frozen coils. This is a sign that something in your HVAC system is backed up and not allowing water to drain properly. If you notice ice, turn your air conditioner off, and wait for the ice to thaw before you do anything else.

It’s possible that replacing your air filter or cleaning your coils and drain line may fix the problem. If you’re still having issues after taking these steps, call a technician. Don’t continue to run your air conditioner because it could make things worse.

Should I Call an HVAC Tech?

If you can’t fix the problem by cleaning visible dirt and debris from the coils and drainage system, it’s better to call a technician to diagnose the problem. Your air conditioner could suffer from catastrophic system failure while you’re attempting to find out what’s wrong if you keep letting it run or turn it on and off while attempting solutions.

In the best-case scenario, the technician may be able to replace insulation, adjust the drain line or repair a key component of your system instead of calling for a new unit.

Other Things to Watch For

If you notice your AC leaking water, you need to check for water damage in the neighboring walls and insulation. Moisture is an inviting home for all sorts of pests, including mold, mildew and other harmful microorganisms. It can also damage your drywall and compromise the structural integrity of your home.

Make sure you clean up any leaking water you find, and address water damage before it spreads to other areas inside your walls or ceiling. This extra step may even save you money by keeping you from needing to perform a more expensive repair down the line.

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