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Why Is Water Leaking From My Air Conditioner?

water-dropletsYou know if you see water leaking from pipes or the water heater in your home that there’s trouble. But when you notice water leaking from the cabinet of your air conditioner, you might feel confused. Your air conditioning system isn’t hooked up to the water line in your house, so where is this water coming from? And is leaking water a reason to call for technicians to repair the AC?

The answer to the last question is usually yes. We’ll answer the first question as well as get into why water may be leaking from the AC below. 

The Source of Water in an Air Conditioner

Why is there water in your AC? You may already have some idea because, if you’ve listened to your air conditioning system run during the summer, you’ll occasionally hear the drip of water coming from it. Water isn’t used to cool down the air in a refrigerant-based AC (there are systems called evaporative coolers that use water, and we install and service these), but it is a byproduct of the cooling process.

Here’s how it works. When cold refrigerant moves through the indoor coil of the air conditioner, it evaporates as it comes into contact with the warmer air pushed through the AC. This evaporation absorbs heat and cools down the air. But it also causes the moisture in the air (humidity) to condense along the coil as water droplets. This is the same effect you see on the outside of a glass of cold liquid on a warm day: condensate moisture. 

When this moisture drips off the coil, it falls down into a shallow plastic pan (the condensate pan) located right below the coil. From there, a pump pulls the water down the condensate drain, through a line, and then outside of the house where the water drips harmlessly to the ground.

Why Water Leaks May Start

Now that you understand the source of water in the AC and how it’s removed, you’ll be able to see how this condensate drainage system can go wrong and lead to leaks:

  • Clogged drain: The condensate drain can become clogged, often because of algal growth, and this will soon cause the pan to overflow. (The pan is only about an inch deep.) The AC will often shut off if this occurs, and you’ll notice the thermostat screen is blank. 
  • Corrosion: The drain may corrode and if this happens it will detach from the pan and leave a hole for water to drip through.
  • Broken pump: If the motor in the condensate pump burns out, it won’t move any water out of the drain, which will also cause overflow. 
  • Excess water: An AC malfunction elsewhere may cause an excessive amount of moisture to drip down into the pan that’s more than the drain and pump can handle. 

When you need service because you’ve got a leaking air conditioning in Plattsburgh, NY, reach out to our experts. We’ll find out what’s wrong and have it fixed fast.

Red Rock Mechanical, LLC serves Northwest Vermont and Northeast New York. Schedule air conditioning service with us today—we have 24-hour emergency service available. 

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