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Why Is My Air Conditioner Leaking Water?

Cooling systems can encounter a wide array of issues and problems, both large and small—but of them all one of the most distressing and surprisingly common is definitely a leak. Water leaks are scary, since they tend to cause water damage in the home and can be alarming coming from your AC—which is essentially an electrical appliance! What’s the deal, and what can you do about it? The team at Schneller & Knochelmann Plumbing, Heating & Air are here to help!

What Makes Water in a Cooling System?

Some folks are a bit confused on how water came to be in their cooling system in the first place. But when you think about it (or once you’ve learned a bit about your AC), it’s actually not all that far fetched. Water is actually consistently produced by your cooling system, or rather is a byproduct of how it operates.

The water comes from how your cooling system uses the evaporator coil. In the cooling process, warm and moist air is blown over the cold coils in order to produce the cool air you use. During the process, condensation begins to form and when everything is in working order, that water ends up in your condensate drain system, where it is harmlessly carried off to either outdoors or to a designated drain somewhere in your home.

What Causes Water Leaks?

We explained how water comes to be in your system in the first place primarily because the systems we mentioned, the condensate drain, is the most common cause of a water leak in your system (and because learning is fun). Issues with the condensate drain actually aren’t super uncommon, and can include:

  • Condensate drain clogs. The drain system encounters all manner of dust, dirt, debris, and dander. So naturally over time these can accumulate, resulting in a clog that stops the normal draining of water, thus leading to an overflow.
  • Drain pan cracks and damage. The drain pan is what initially catches the condensate, and is basically just a big basin that when cracked, rusted, or damaged will begin to leak water.
  • Busted drain pump. The pump moves water from the basin to the drain and when damaged can lead to the pan overflowing.

Beyond issues with the drain system, there is another common cause: air flow problems. If your air filter is clogged and dirty or your ducts are thick with dust, then your air conditioner can experience a rapid drop in temperature, resulting in literal component freezing. The ice formed in this situation will eventually melt, leaving it to leak all over the place.

How Do I Avoid a Leaky Air Conditioner?

There’s a bit you can do on your own, of course, and it would be beneficial to learn. Regularly cleaning your condensate line with mild, non corrosive cleaners can go a long way in reducing leaks. But for a more proper and consistent solution, this is just one more reason why routine HVAC maintenance is vital.

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