A leaking air conditioner can therefore be irritating. And rightfully so, since an air conditioner should give your house worry-free cooling.
But is water leaking from the air conditioner dangerous, or is it just irritating? In this article, we shall be looking at the potential dangers of a leaking air conditioner, if any, the underlying causes, and how we can fix them.
Is water Leaking from Air conditioner dangerous?
Typically, your air conditioner leaking water is not dangerous. However, you must check whether you have water leakage or an air conditioner coolant leak. An air conditioner leaking freon can cause symptoms such as dizziness and headache.
While your air conditioner leaking water is not potentially dangerous, it can pose impending water hazards to your home. The intensity of the danger would depend on where the water leak is, the intensity of the leakage, and the type of air conditioner system you have.
The leakage can cause molds and corrosion on the walls and floors of your house.
How and Why Water Forms in your Air Conditioner
An HVAC system has an outdoor and an indoor unit. The indoor unit has an evaporator coil that cools warm air blowing on it. The evaporator is a chilled coiled pipe containing a volatile liquid known as the coolant. The most common coolant in the market today is Freon, otherwise known as F-22.
As the air flows and gets into contact with the evaporator coil, it is condensed and released to your house, improving the indoor air quality. As the warm air undergoes the condensation process, the gas changes into the liquid state, forming water droplets.
If you have ever noticed, droplets of water form on the glass containing your iced drink during a scorching summer afternoon. The exact process forms ice on the evaporator coil.
The formed water then drips into a condensate drain pan and flows into a condensate drain line, which then drains the water out of your house.
Is My Air Conditioner Supposed to Leak Water?
Under normal operations, the air conditioning system should only form water during the condensation process, as the hot air condenses and change state.
This water then drains into the drain pan and outside the house through the condensate line, then evaporates into the air.
Thus, your air conditioner is not supposed to leak water.
How do I Know if My Air Conditioner is Leaking Water?
Below are some signs that your air conditioning system is leaking water.
Continuously Dripping Water
One of the easiest ways to know if your air conditioner system has a leakage is if you notice a never-drying puddle of water where the system is installed.
Your air conditioner may over condense the water on a sweltering day, especially if you do not have an updated HVAC system.
The over condensed water overflows from the drain pan and causes a small puddle of water which should dry up in a day or two.
However, it is a cause of concern when the drip extends for several days, even when your AC is not very modern.
Sound of Dripping Water
Another indicator that your AC may be leaking is if you hear the sound of continuously dripping
water. However, you may need to differentiate between the normal bubbling of a healthy air conditioning system and leakage drips.
Under normal operations, your AC makes dripping sounds as the condensed water drops into the drain pan.
However, if the sound becomes annoying and frustrating to deal with, you might want to
confirm if the drain pan is working correctly.
Sound of Running Water
If your AC is making sounds of running water, it could indicate that the excess condensation is not draining properly and the drain pan is overflowing. The overflow could cause a leakage of water in your home.
Sounds of running or dripping water may be alarming. But your biggest concern should
be when you see physical water leakage on your floors, walls, or ceiling.
When is a Leaking Air Conditioner Dangerous?
We have seen that your AC unit leaking water is not dangerous, but the water from the air conditioner leaks could pose hazardous situations.
Let us look at some of the dangers that water leaking from your conditioner could impose.
Appliance and Fire Hazard
Water leaking can cause the insulation pipes near the air conditioner to wear out due to constant contact with moisture. The worn-out parts are susceptible to posing a fire risk to your home and destroying the appliance.
Broken electric lines pose an extensive danger to the whole family, especially if pets and young children contact them.
Mold and Mildew
Molds feed on moisture to survive. When your walls and floors are continuously exposed to standing water, molds begin to grow and will not cease unless the issue is addressed. Growing molds are unsightly and not something you want on your walls and floor.
Molds can also lead to other problems such as carpet rot which is expensive to fix. They also cause many health issues such as allergies, pneumonia, and other respiratory diseases.
When the walls are in constant contact with water, the resistant walls get eroded. The water would then seep into the rest of the wall causing structural damage when it reaches the house’s foundation.
What Causes Air Conditioner to Leak Water?
Below are some of the reasons why your air conditioner system leaks. If you want to know the cause for your outside unit, check why air conditioner is leaking water inside
1. Dirty Air Filter
A dirty air filter causes your air conditioner to overwork, resulting in worn-out parts. When your AC parts wear out, they crack, creating water leakage areas.
The dirty air filter also blocks air from flowing to the operator coil. With no air reaching it, the coil becomes extremely cold and freezes. Your air conditioner could also be operating with flat filters, which reduces the system’s energy efficiency.
2. Clogged Drain Line
Over time, the condensate drain line draining the water may be clogged with mold, dust, or dirt debris.
The debris then blocks water from draining outside the house, causing a backup. The backed-up water looks for an escape by leaking into your house.
3. Low Refrigerant
As the refrigerant levels of your air conditioner lower, pressure builds inside the system goes down, making the evaporator foil freeze. The thawed water overflows from the condensate pan and into the house when it melts.
You can tell if the refrigerant levels are low if your house is not cooling as it should. Another indicator is a hissing or bubbling sound, which could point to a leakage of the Freon gas.
4. Poor Installation
Have you noticed water leakage on your new AC unit? If so, something probably went wrong when the HVAC tech installed the air conditioner. The drain pan would have been installed incorrectly to not drain into the condensate drain line.
You also need to check if the condense trap was installed or designed poorly, thus not trapping all the water from the drain line.
5. Broken Condensate Pump
If you have a malfunctioning pump, it may not drain water into the condensate drain line. You can test if the condensate drainage pump is working by putting water in the drain pan and checking if the pump can adequately pump out the water.
6. Broken or Missing Drain Pan
The drain pan is located directly underneath the evaporator coil to collect the condensed water efficiently.
If the drain pan has a crack or is missing, it means that the condensed water will drain outside the condensate line and leak into your house.
What can you do if your Air Conditioner is Leaking Water?
If you notice that your HVAC system is leaking water, check and fix it to avert further water damage to your home. Below are some suggestions that you can follow in dealing with the leakage.
If you want to fix these leaking problems outdoors, here is how to fix air conditioner leaking outside.
1. Shut your AC System
If you notice that your air conditioner is leaking, the most appropriate thing is to shut the AC off until the problem is identified and fixed.
Check the evaporator coil and let it thaw before the maintenance technician repairs the AC unit. You may also want to check for any coolant leak before progressing further.
2. Dry up Any Water Leakages
Whenever you discover water leakages in your room, dry them out immediately.
Standing water can cause molds and mildew creating more headaches for you. A dry vacuum will assist you in sucking up any remaining water in the drain pan and on the floor.
If you believe or suspect mold growth in your house, get the help of clean-up services to eliminate it.
3. Check for Ice
Is there any ice build-up on the outer unit? If so, your AC unit probably needs additional Freon. You also need to check the air handler and evaporator coil for ice build-up.
Do not attempt to use the air conditioner until all the ice thaws.
4. Change Air Filters
Always ensure that the air filters of your air filters are well installed, clean, and functioning.
Replacing your air filter at regular intervals increases the air conditioner’s efficiency. If you have pets and children in your home, change the air filters as soon as they get dirty or after every 60 days.
5. Check Any Installation Problems
You could be having a leaking air conditioner because of an installation problem. Check whether the drain pan is installed correctly and draining to the condensate drain line.
Also, ensure that the condensate drain is well-positioned to drain all the water outside the house.
6. Check the Condensate Drainage Pump
As we have previously seen, you can confirm that the condensate pump is functional by putting water in the drain pan. After that, switch the power on and check whether it pumps water into the condensate line.
7. Clean the Condensate Pipe
With time, the condensate pipe collects all kinds of debris ranging from dust and dirt, forming clogs.
When you notice water leaks to your home, make sure that the condensate pipe drain is clear. If not, clear any clogs to avoid backed-up water, leading to leakage.
8. Do not Use the Air Conditioner in Cold Temperatures
When the weather is below 60 degrees, switching your AC unit on will cause the evaporator coils to freeze.
You can improve the indoor air quality by opening a few windows or doors for a few minutes or turning on the whole house fan until you achieve the coolness your desire.
Can We Use AC when Water is Leaking?
Whether you can use the air conditioning system when the water is leaking depends on the cause of the leakage.
The most advisable thing to do is switch off the air conditioner until you determine why there are leakages. The air conditioner leaking Freon may affect your health. So it is advisable to rule out coolant leaks.
Using the air conditioner when there is ice build-up can cause further damage to the system.
You might want to solve other issues such as broken drain pipes or dysfunctional condensate drainage pumps before you can use the AC again.
If the AC unit is leaking because of a clogged condensate drainage pipe, you can continue using it. Keep a bucket below the leaking air conditioner to capture the spillage.
Even if using the AC is safe, clear the clogs as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
Is Water Leaking From Air Conditioner Dangerous?
In conclusion, we have seen that your air conditioner leaking water is not dangerous.
However, an air conditioner coolant leak can affect your health. The leaking water can also pose other health hazards to your family members or weaken the structure of your house.