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Ace Hardware Home Services Blog

“What Does It Mean If My AC Is Leaking Water?”


There are often times when home service companies get a call from a homeowner who is concerned about a major plumbing leak in their living space, only to realize that the problem is actually a leaking air conditioner. AC systems can leak water, but it’s not because they use your plumbing system to operate. Instead, condensation builds up within the system and can, if it’s not properly draining, find a way to spill over, into and onto your property. And then it’s time for some AC repair.

Depending on the location of a cooling system’s indoor unit, the results of that leak can have a huge negative impact. So, what should you do? And is it possible to prevent this from happening again? Read on to learn the answers to these questions!

Where Is the Water Coming From?

Air conditioner water leaks occur due to condensate not properly draining. We’ve all see the buildup of condensation before–what occurs when you have a glass of cold water out on a hot day, for instance. Small water droplets collect on the air conditioner’s evaporator coil due to the humidity in the air that condenses as it passes over the cooled coil.

This is a normal part of the AC process. So air conditioners were developed to get rid of the condensation that could otherwise leak into your home. A drip tray sits below the coil, and it is set at an angle with a drainage hole at the bottom. This hole leads to a drainpipe that should enable water to drain outside of your home.

What’s Wrong with the Condensate System when This Happens?

When water from your air conditioner doesn’t drain as it should, there are a few different things that might be happening:

  • The condensate drain may be stopped up with debris, forcing water to overflow from the drip tray.
  • The drip tray itself is cracked, off-center, or not angled properly.
  • Frequent AC use combined with high humidity means you need a condensate pump to get rid of the excess.
  • Ice has formed on your evaporator coil (this is a problem!) and is thawing, dripping water into your property.

What Should You Do?

If running your air conditioner is causing property damage, it’s time to shut off the air conditioner.

Next, you should call in a qualified and experienced HVAC professional. As you wait for them to come, you should do what you can to clean up the excess water around your system and in your property. Failure to do so can lead to mold and mildew development, which is potentially harmful to the health of your household, let alone your property.

Prevents Problems from Occurring Again

The best piece of advice we can offer to prevent your air conditioner from leaking water in the future is to be sure to change your air filter regularly! A clogged air filter can lead to a lot more problems than you may realize. You might not think this has anything to do with water… but hear us out.

When your HVAC air filter is too clogged up, it blocks airflow going into your system. So there isn’t enough warm air going over the evaporator coil for it to absorb. Therefore, the cold refrigerant can lead it to freeze over, and when that ice thaws is when you’re most likely to see water coming from your air conditioner!

This air filter should be changed every 1-3 months depending on the type of filter and the level of contaminants in your home.

For quality AC repair in Lincolnton, NC and beyond, contact Ace Hardware Home Services today! 

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