Air conditioners sometimes leak water outside. Normally, this amounts to only a little condensation. It should dry up quickly, especially on a hot day. But if the leak persists, and there’s more water than the outdoor unit usually produces, AC repair may be necessary.
The amount of water produced by the unit can vary depending on the thermostat setting and outdoor temperature. As for why your air conditioner is dripping water outside, we’ll cover a few of the leading factors.
Dirty Air Filter
A dirty, partially blocked, or completely clogged air filter can cause the evaporator coils to freeze. This may cause water to overflow from the drain pan. Also, dirty or old filters can allow dirt and debris into the system, which can then accumulate in and clog the condensate drain line. As a preventative measure, the AC filter should be checked every 30 days and changed at least every three months.
Blocked Drain Pipe
If the pipe leading away from the condensate drain is blocked, water will collect around the AC unit. It can continuously overflow and leak from the drain pan, allowing algae and mold to grow. Water may also weigh down the drain line; combined with vibration from the unit, this can cause the drain line to loosen and eventually disconnect from the pan.
Damaged Condensate Pan
The condensate pan can rust and develop cracks. A cracked pan is often hard to notice as the cracks may be too small to see at first. Inspect the condensate with a flashlight to get a clear view. If there are minor cracks, they can usually be fixed. But if the condensate pan is badly damaged, it must be replaced.
Failed Condensate Pump
If your AC is in a basement, townhome attic, or other location where gravity can’t adequately carry water away, a condensate pump is used. A centrifugal pump activates when condensate reaches a certain level in the tank and triggers a float switch. If the pump fails, or the tank or tubing for the pump cracks, the air conditioner can leak water.
The evaporator coil can freeze if airflow is restricted. In this case, there’s no or not enough warm air for the refrigerant to absorb. Instead of turning into a gas, it freezes and in turn the coil becomes frozen. A dirty coil, dirty filter, damaged fan, blocked return vent, or collapsed duct can restrict airflow.
Another possible cause of a frozen coil is a refrigerant leak. Whatever refrigerant is left in the line expands, gets colder, and freezes. In either case, melting ice will generate too much water for the drain pan and condensate line to handle.
If your AC is still running while it starts to get cold outside, the coils can freeze and cause water to leak. This will typically not happen unless the outside temperature is below 60℉.
What to Do If Your Air Conditioner Is Dripping Water
If your AC is leaking significantly, turn it off. It’s a sign that something inside the system is malfunctioning. You’ll also want to clean up the water as soon as possible. If the coil is frozen, water may continue to leak, but make sure the water doesn’t persist as it can cause serious problems. Defrost the evaporator coil by turning the fan on (but keep the AC off). Change the air filter if there’s any reason to think it’s dirty, and check the air vents to make sure they’re not blocked.
When a lot of water is leaking from the air conditioner for 24 hours or more, contact an HVAC repair company. Waiting out the problem will only make it worse. You’ll probably end up with more damage and higher repair expenses.
Schedule AC Repair with Air Stars
If your air conditioner is dripping water outside for an extended period of time, and/or there’s a significant amount of water, contact Air Stars. Our licensed technicians will arrive promptly and inspect the system to determine the exact problem. They’re also equipped with the parts and tools to fix it quickly and permanently. To request immediate AC repair, book your appointment online or call 503-897-9292 today.