Florida’s extreme heat and high humidity make having air conditioning a necessity. Still, keeping your home cool during the hot summer months can put a huge strain on your AC system. Over time, this can result in a variety of potential issues. One of the most common issues we see is when the air conditioner suddenly starts leaking water inside the house. If you’re currently experiencing this issue, here is everything you need to know about the potential causes and what you can do to fix them.
Clogged Condensate Drain Line or Floor Drain
Most of the time, when water is leaking from your AC, the issue is caused by a problem with the condensate drain system. The air handler inside your home is responsible for absorbing heat from the air to cool the building. Inside the air handler is an evaporator coil that is filled with extremely cold refrigerant. The refrigerant captures heat from the air and transfers it back outside to the compressor unit.
In the same way as condensation forms on a cold glass of water due to the heat in the air, the cooling process causes condensation to form on the evaporator coil. This condensation collects into a drain pan and then goes out through the condensate drain line. Depending on where your air handler is located and the setup of your HVAC system, the condensate line will run either into a floor drain or directly outside the house.
If the condensate drain line gets clogged, the result is that the water will start backing up and eventually overflow out of the drain pan. On the other hand, if the floor drain is clogged, then you will usually notice water pooling up around the drain itself. These types of clogs happen often as the combination of heat and moisture can allow mold, mildew, and slime to build up inside the pipes or drain. The pipes or drain can also become clogged with dirt, dust, and debris.
If your condensate drain line runs out of the house, you’ll first need to determine where the access point is. In most cases, it will be somewhere near your compressor unit. Before attempting to clear out the blockage, it is important to flip the circuit breaker that controls the AC to avoid potentially damaging your unit. After locating the access point, you’ll need to take the cap off and inspect the inside of the line for any visible signs of a blockage. Try to manually remove anything you see inside the pipe, and then use a wet/dry vacuum to see if you can suck out whatever is blocking the pipe. If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to contact an HVAC technician to unclog the line.
If the floor drain is clogged, you can try to use either a plunger or a pipe snake to clear the blockage. However, you should never use chemical drain cleaners because this could damage the plumbing and lead to more serious issues.
Malfunctioning Condensate Pump
Some AC systems rely on gravity to drain water away, but there are many times when this is either impractical or impossible. In this situation, the system will require a condensate pump to pump the water outside of the building. If the condensate pump malfunctions or burns out, it will lead to the same issue as if the condensate drain is clogged so that eventually water overflows from the drain pan. The only solution to thus problem is to hire an HVAC technician to repair or replace the condensate pump.
Leaking Drain Pan
If your air handler is more than 10 or 15 years old, there is also a good chance that the drain pan itself is leaking. This is especially common if the drain pan is made out of metal since the water can eventually cause it to rust through and develop holes. Plastic drain pans can also crack over time, and this can also cause leaks. Sometimes the drain pan can be repaired by sealing any holes or cracks.
Another option is to simply replace the drain pan. However, this isn’t always possible with all AC systems. The reason is that in many systems, the drain pan is welded directly onto the bottom of the air handler. If this is the case, the only option is to replace the entire air handler unit since it’s impossible to remove the drain pan.
Frozen Evaporator Coil
Another common reason that air conditioners leak water is that the evaporator coil has frozen up. Once the coil starts to thaw, it can produce more water than the condensate drain system can handle and will eventually result in water leaking out of the drain pan.
The most common cause of a frozen evaporator coil is a refrigerant leak. When an AC system doesn’t have enough refrigerant, it changes the pressure inside the system. When this happens, it can allow moisture to build up and form ice on the evaporator coil. This places extra stress on the compressor unit and makes it impossible for the AC to cool the air inside the home. In most cases, you will know that the evaporator coil is frozen because the system will suddenly start pumping warm air out of the vents.
If this problem isn’t taken care of quickly, it will eventually burn out the motor in the compressor and force you to replace the unit. For this reason, it is essential that you contact a professional AC technician if you suspect your evaporator coil is frozen. The technician will be able to quickly find and repair the refrigerant leak and then add more refrigerant to the system to allow it to work properly again.
The evaporator coil can also freeze if there isn’t sufficient airflow inside the HVAC system. The most common reason this happens is because the air filter is clogged and doesn’t allow enough air to flow into the system. To avoid this, all you need to do is make sure that you change your air filter at least once every 30 to 90 days. Every three months is usually ok during the milder parts of the year when your HVAC system doesn’t get much use. However, if you live in a particularly dusty area or if your AC is running almost constantly, you should replace the filter at least once a month.
The issue can also occur if the evaporator coil is too dirty, which is why it should always be cleaned at least once a year. This is where it is a good idea to schedule a yearly maintenance appointment for your AC system since this will include a full cleaning of the evaporator coil and other components in addition to a full inspection of the entire system.
Expert AC Repairs and Maintenance
If you’re experiencing issues with water leaking from your AC, the expert technicians at Von’s Heating and Air have the knowledge and skills to diagnose and fix the underlying cause of the issue. We specialize in AC repairs and preventative maintenance, and we can also help you when it comes time to replace your air conditioner. Our team offers a full range of heating services, and we respond to 99% of the calls we get the same day. If you need any type of AC or heating service, contact Von’s Heating and Air to see what makes us the best HVAC service in Orange Park.