Why Is Your Air Conditioner Leaking Water Inside And How to Fix

Is your air conditioner dripping water inside every few seconds or minutes?

It sounds like a leak to me!

You may choose to ignore this, but what starts as a mild inconvenience can destroy your ceiling, wall, or floor, not to mention the air conditioner’s efficiency and performance, so you better take this seriously.

Is My Air Conditioner Supposed To Leak Water?

Well, it is pretty standard for your air conditioning unit to leak water a small amount of water during routine functioning since it produces condensation while it works. However, if the AC leaks do not stop in the day or the leakage is frequent and consistent, your AC has a problem that needs to be fixed.

In most cases, leaking air conditioners will produce a bubbling noise indicating refrigerant leaks.

Is Water Leaking From An Air Conditioner Dangerous?

Is air conditioner leaking water dangerous? Not at all.

But these leaks could cause a lot of damage to your air conditioning unit if nothing is done to solve the problem. You will certainly need to contact an HVAC technician near you to help you repair your air conditioner, as doing it by yourself can be difficult.

Dangers Of Air Conditioner Leaking Water Inside

As we mentioned before, water produced by your air conditioner in normal circumstances is not enough to cause an alarm, but if the leaks are consistent and frequent, then there is the need to raise the alarm.

What are the dangers of air conditioners leaking water? 

1. Formation of Mold and Mildew

If you have a clogged condensate drain line causing the drip pan to overflow, then water could get into your insulation, and the hot air and moisture provide the perfect environment for the growth of molds.

The more the air conditioner leaks, the more you have a significant mold and mildew problem at hand.

2. Insulation and Sheetrock Damage

The sheetrock is as delicate as a flower and would not hold up well if it gets wet. So the more your AC system leaks into the sheetrock, the more damage it makes.

3. Electrical Complications

It’s obvious what kind of damages water could cause to electrical appliances. I mean, you do not want the water leaking to drip on your air conditioner’s electrical components as it could cause damages to your AC unit.

How And Why Water Forms In Your Air Conditioner

Through a clogged drain line- Your air conditioning system needs to drain the majority of water it produces, so if the water comes across a clogged drain line, then water will collect inside. This, in turn, cause your air conditioner to leak water.

Through Ice Collection: When the amount of water inside the AC unit is too much, the internal fans of the AC blow the water into the air conditioner’s cold coils. These coils can ice over and affect your AC system’s performance.

So when you turn off an affected AC unit and the air inside it heats up, the ice simply melts and causes a puddle of water to appear beneath the unit.

Why Water Forms In Your AC System

Your air conditioner not only maintains the temperature in your home but also affects the humidity levels. The indoor AC unit consists of the evaporator coil, and as the warm air is drawn in your AC unit, it is also blown over the cold evaporator coils.

The evaporator coil causes the warm air to condense, making it less humid. This results in moisture dripping into the drain pan, which leads to the condensate drain line. The condensate drain line leads out of your house and drains the water outside.

So water forms in your system when there is an excessive accumulation of moisture in your air conditioning unit, and it is having trouble removing the extra water. This will undoubtedly lead to your AC leaking water inside your house.

How Much Water should Drain from Air Conditioner?

5 to 20 gallons of water.

This means 5 gallons of water down the drain per day in an arid climate and 20 gallons per day in a humid climate.

Yes, it is absolutely normal for your air conditioning system to drain such an amount OUTSIDE of your home. The AC unit will naturally drain water that was once humidity out of your home, and if it fails to do so, then the climate may be too dry, or your air handler is not functioning as expected.

However, it is NOT normal for your air conditioning unit to drain such excess water INSIDE your home or around the indoor AC unit.

In addition, the thermostat setting will also play a role in determining the quantity of water being drained out, but this will depend on the complex circuitry working in harmony with the rest of the air conditioner.

How Do I Know If My Air Conditioner Is Leaking Water?

It is as easy as an apple pie!

There are a few signs that you could look for, and they include;

1. A Hissing Sound

The hissing sound in your AC unit could be a sign of a variety of problems, refrigerant leaks is one of them. A refrigerant leak will be caused by cracks or holes in the evaporator coil that circulate the refrigerant.

2. A Puddle Of Water

You will notice water on your floor or ceiling or even dripping down your wall. The horror! This is the most basic way to know that something is up with your air conditioning unit.

3. Using A Float Switch

If you are lucky enough to have installed a float switch, you will know when the excess water flow is likely to cause your AC unit to leak. The float switch works by shutting down the AC system when it overflows with water. 

So when your AC shuts down with the help of the float switch, you will know that your AC was almost causing leaks.

Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Is Leaking Water Inside

1. Rusted Or Damaged Drain Pan

The drain pan is located underneath the AC’s evaporator coils or in the air handler to catch condensation as it drips, and the water will then flow into the drain line.

Water will form and leak if your AC unit has a rusted drain pan so that water will fall right through it. Finding a rusty drain pan is common in old air conditioners that have lived for more than ten years.

2. Disconnected Drain Line

If the drain line is not correctly attached or installed, it will disconnect and cause your AC unit to leak water. A disconnected drain line will cause a pool of water on your floor or a leak through your ceiling.

3. Clogged Condensate Drain Line

This is the most common reason for your AC leaking water. Why?

The moisture collected by your AC during dehumidification contains debris and dirt. If the condensate drain line is not cleared and cleaned from time to time, the dirt accumulates, causing a blockage. So water will start collecting in your air conditioner and later spilling out of the drain pan.

4. Broken Condensate Pump

A broken condensate pump is another reason water will leak in your unit. Usually, the condensate pump plays a vital role in removing water from the AC. 

So when the water level in the condensate pump reservoir rises, the float switch is turned on, which triggers the condensate pump to drain water outside the house.

If the condensate pump is broken, then the water coming from the indoor AC unit will not be pumped outside. This is common in cases where the air conditioner is situated in the basement or far away attic.

5. Frozen Coils

Evaporator coils are generally part of your indoor unit, and due to a refrigerant leak, they can freeze, which leads to moisture building up, causing the drain pan to overflow.

6. Dirty Air Filters

Having dirty air filters will certainly block airflow over the evaporator coil, causing water in the unit to lead to AC leaks. 

When the airflow is blocked, the evaporator coil gets cold and freezes, and when it melts, it causes excessive dripping water that the drain pan cannot handle.

Air filters ensure proper air circulation, and they trap air pollutants making sure that clean air enters your home. These dust particles can accumulate within the air filters and clog them over time. 

The dust particles blockage is detrimental to your indoor air quality and can lead to more harm to your air conditioner.

7. Low Refrigerant

Just like having a dirty air filter, the low refrigerant will lower the pressure in the air conditioner leading to the freezing of the evaporator coil, so when the coil melts, water overflows the drain pan.

8. Incorrect AC Installation

If you have recently installed a new unit and it has started leaking, that can be blamed on poor installation.

For instance, if your air conditioner and the drain pipes are not entirely proportional, it automatically disrupts the water flow from the drain pan and eventually causes your air conditioner leaking water.

In addition, if the central air conditioner is not leveled correctly, it can spill water inside your home.

9. Condensation Build-Up

We mentioned how condensation is part of your unit’s dehumidifying process. Still, excess condensation build-up can lead to your AC leaking water from vents and air ducts inside your home.

 This may also cause the growth of mold and mildew in the air ducts and destroy your indoor air quality.

How to Fix Air Conditioner Leaking Water Inside?

Imagine realizing that your air conditioner is leaking water inside your house; what would you do?

I know you don’t have an answer to this but below are AC maintenance tips that you can use to avoid further damage.

If your outdoor air conditioner is leaking, here is how to fix air conditioner leaking outside.

1. Turn Your Air Conditioner Off

This is the first step you should do once you notice your AC leaking water inside your home. You could try locating the problem first before turning it off, and once you do, you can switch the AC off. If you can’t the problem, turn the air conditioner off and be sure to call your HVAC technician to help you locate the problem.

2. Check For Ice

Try locating any ice that may have built up. You could start by checking the drain line on your outside unit, and if you find ice, you will need freon.

 The next thing to do is check your evaporator coils for any ice, and as long as your AC is iced, you should probably not use it until a professional take a look at your unit.

3. Address The Water Leaks

Be sure to address any water leaks you notice as soon as possible. Address the water leaks by cleaning them up to avoid the growth of mold and mildew. You can use a dry or wet vacuum to suck up any water in the drain pan and later use a fan to dry out the affected area.

Perhaps you notice the growth of mold and mildew; please be sure to contact a technician to handle the problem.

4. Replace Air Filters

If you happen to have dirty air filters, be sure to clean them up. Make sure to clean and dry them properly before putting them back. It is highly recommended to clean your air filters as often as possible, especially during the peak season when the AC is used for extended periods.

You could also change the air filters if you have not changed them for three months. Opting to change them frequently will help avoid the whole process of having to clean them up.

5. Clean and Seal Damaged Drain Pan

The first essential step is to shut down your AC. Once you shut it down, take a look at the drain pan and make sure that it is is clear and no condensation, debris, or dust has clogged up the drain line.

 If the drain pan is not clear, the next step is to empty it and clean it thoroughly. Cleaning the drain pan ensures that no mold or mildew grows inside it.

A cracked or damaged drain pan, on the other hand, will need to be carefully sealed after you are done cleaning it up. Using an excellent water-resistant sealant to patch the cracks would be best. Then be sure to test the sealed area by pouring down water and watching for any leaks.

For the rusted drain, it is advisable to replace them and make sure you replace them with the correct size for your AC to work correctly.

6. Fix Broken Condensate Pump

Once you shut down your AC and notice that your condensate pump is broken, there is nothing much you can do since you cannot fix it by yourself. You will need to contact a technician to repair the broken condensate pump.

7. Contact A HVAC Professional

If you have tried everything in your power and notice no changes, it is best to contact a professional to help you out. Finding a professional should not worry you since you will always find a professional offering the best HVAC services in your area.

8. Clean Clogged Condensate Drain Pipe

Because your drain pipe collects a lot of debris and dust, it will clog as often hence you need to clean it as frequently as possible.

 The first step you need to do after noticing your air conditioner leaking water inside is to shut down your unit and ensure to flip the lever of your breaker to the OFF position.

The next step you need to do is locate the drain line and check how clogged it is. Most drain pipes have T-shaped with a cap or cover, and you will need to remove this cap.

Then take 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar and pour down the drainpipe to dissolve the clogs inside it. Take a long wire brush and scrub the drain line to remove the gunk that may have accumulated. Be sure to wear protective gloves while cleaning the drain pipe. Clean the drain pipe will take about 30 minutes.

Using distilled white vinegar will help, but If the drain is severely clogged, you need a special pump to unclog it.

Once you are done cleaning the drain line, you can pour some water on it to make sure it flows out to the other end without any blockage.

Can We Use AC When Water Is Leaking?

Using AC when water is leaking depends on the type of problem causing the AC to leak, so you will need to first determine what type of problem you are dealing with.

If your refrigerant is causing leaks, continuing to use it can be very dangerous and may cause damage to your unit.

Either way, if your AC is leaking due to frozen evaporator coils, you shouldn’t try using the unit until the problem is solved, as this will also damage your AC.

If the leaking is caused by dirt build-up, you should use the unit, but you will need to keep a bucket below your AC to collect the excess water. You will also be required to constantly monitor the unit for any other signs of damage. 

Please note that this should be temporary as you figure out how you will unclog your unit.

Final Thoughts

You can reduce the risk of damaging your air conditioner through leaks by maintaining your HVAC system. But if you know what to look for when your system is leaking water, you can get the problem fixed yourself.

With the proper diagnosis, such as the solutions we’ve outlined above, it is easy to fix most AC leaks before they get damaged and things get out of hand. So say goodbye to a leaking air conditioner!