AC and Heating Tip from AC Express
Why Your AC is Leaking Water
Most of us have busy lives and better things to do than to keep a 24/7 vigilante eye on the status of our air conditioning in Austin. We tend to not pay much mind to the machines in our houses that provide us with that cool air we love so much until they stop providing that air. But, there are a number of things that are worth looking out for if you want that cool air to continue to flow long into the future.
That’s because big problems with air conditioning can end up costing you a lot of money in repairs but most big problems start as small problems. If you can catch a small problem before it becomes a big problem and fix it, you’ve just saved yourself a lot of time and money and future headaches. One symptom that’s worth keeping an eye out for is leaking. There are two places your AC can leak, the indoor unit and the outdoor unit. In this tip, I’ll go over what it looks like when a leak is an issue, what could be the cause of said leak, and what to do about it.
When Water is a Problem
The first thing to understand when talking about water leaks and air conditioning is that the sight of water alone isn’t indicative of a problem. Some amount of water in certain amounts at certain places around and on your air conditioner is normal and indicative of nothing more than a hard working air conditioner.
When it comes to the indoor unit, the evaporator coil is going to send water gathered from the humid air to the condensate drain. When your AC is working hard, there may be a visible amount of condensation on this condensate drain. Because one of the jobs of your air conditioner is to remove humidity from the indoor air, how much water is going to form condensation on the condensation drain is going to depend on how humid the environment around your house is and on how low your temperature is set on the thermostat. So, during extremely hot and humid seasons, you might see a small puddle underneath the condensate drain. If this water collection continues or grows, you may have a problem.
When it comes to the outdoor unit, the same thing can be said of the condenser. You might see a small puddle of water underneath the condenser unit outside. This is likely normal, especially if your air conditioner is working hard during a particularly hot and humid season. This small amount of water is most likely just a part of your air conditioning system’s normal humidity removal cycle. If this water grows or continues into the less hot and humid weather then it is worth investigating further as it might be indicative of a problem.
In general, if you see a small puddle of water underneath the condensate drain or the condenser unit of your air conditioner it probably is a result of normal operation. If the puddle grows or lasts longer than twenty four hours then you might have a problem.
Causes of a Leak
First, I’ll present a quick overview of the role of water and water removal in your air conditioning and how your air conditioner deals with it. When your air conditioner is cooling your house it pulls hot air through the return air grille in the blower. This warm air makes contact with the cool evaporator coil. This meeting of warm and cool air causes water to condensate on the evaporator coil. The water slips down into a sloped pan that leads to the condensate drain. This drain line uses gravity to lead the water either outside or into the plumbing system of your house.
There are several causes that could be the culprit when it comes to a leak near your condensate drain and evaporator coil. A clog in the drain pipe is an obvious one. This drain can get clogged with dirt, algae, insects, or a number of other contaminants. A clog in the drain means the water will have nowhere to go and will gather beneath the drain. One common issue that can cause a clogged drain is a dirty evaporator coil. A dirty evaporator coil can cause water to carry dirt down into the condensate drain, eventually clogging it.
Another cause of leaks is a rusted through drain pan. If the pan gets enough rust damage, a hole can form. This will cause water to fall and collect underneath the pan.
Of course, if the air conditioner isn’t installed properly in the first place, it will be more prone to leakage. If your air conditioner is brand new and leaking already, this may be the case. An improperly designed condensate trap can stop the condensate from draining. All that water builds up in the drain pan and overflows into your home, causing water damage.
A frozen evaporator coil can also cause a leak. That’s because once the ice melts, it might cause the drain pan to overflow from the sudden increase in water. The design of this water removal system is only made for the slow flow of water and not sudden outpours. There are two common causes of a frozen evaporator coil. The first is a dirty air filter. A dirty air filter can create a lack of warm airflow over the evaporator coil which can lead to the coil getting too cold and freezing up. The second is low levels of refrigerant. Low refrigerant levels can cause the evaporator coil to freeze up.
What to Do in the Case of a Leak
For all of these problems and causes of leakage there are solutions. For a clog in the drain pipe you’ll have to use a wet-dry vacuum to suck the clogging material out. First, turn the air conditioner off completely. Then detach the condensate drain from the drain pan. Then use the vacuum to remove all debris from the inside of the drain. You can also use a cleaning solution such as a mixture of bleach and water and pour it down the drain to remove any grime. Of course, in some cases this merely fixes the symptom and not the main problem. If the cause of the clog is a dirty evaporator coil this can be fixed by having an Austin AC repair company regularly clean your evaporator coils as a part of your routine maintenance checks.
If the problem is a hole in the drain pan caused by rust, the solution is simply to replace the pan. This can be done by a professional very easily. A certified contractor will have access to the correct parts specific to your brand and model of air conditioner.
If the problem is improper installation, the first step is to call a contractor other than the one who performed the installation in the first place. A reputable Austin air conditioning company can examine the issue and determine what steps should take place in order to solve the improper installation issue as quickly and cheaply as possible.
If a frozen evaporator coil is to blame then the solution is two-fold. To solve the immediate problem, the leak, you must first turn off your air conditioner. Then switch the conditioner from “auto” to “on.” This will cause the evaporator coil to defrost. The long-term solution to the problem is to make sure your air filters are regularly changed to have your refrigerant levels checked regularly as a part of preventative maintenance.
AC Leaks and Air Conditioning Repair in Austin
Have you got a leak in your air conditioner? If you notice water pooling underneath your AC unit and it lasts longer than twenty four hours, get it checked out by a trusted Austin air conditioning service such as AC Express. The causes in this tip are just a few of the many possible things that can go wrong with your air conditioner that can result in a leak. Not to mention, many of the causes of leaks are solved by simple preventive maintenance routines that you should be getting if you want to keep your air conditioner in tip top shape throughout the season.
AC Express does AC repair in Austin, Texas. We perform our services all over the Austin area, from Buda and Hutto to Round Rock and Cedar Park and more. If you need quality air conditioning services, don’t hesitate, call today! 512-452-COLD
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