Why Your Air Conditioning System Is Leaking Water

If you’re reading this post, the reason is probably that you’ve noticed water drips or a pool of water around the indoor unit of your air conditioning system. You’re certain that it doesn’t look right, but you aren’t sure exactly why this is happening or if there is anything that you can do about it.

Water leaks and air conditioning repair

First of all, you are right that this shouldn’t be happening. Air conditioners create water moisture as part of the cooling process, but they are designed to prevent this water from escaping the cabinet and causing damage to a home. The moisture develops along the indoor evaporator coil as the cold refrigerant inside the coil absorbs heat from the air. Water vapor in the air condenses along the coil as this happens. The moisture then drips off the coil and falls into a condensate pan below. This is a shallow pan, about 1” deep, but the water doesn’t remain in it for long: a condensate pump draws it down a drain and removes it into the wastewater system. For those of us who have air handlers or furnaces located in our attics, the use of a condensate pump is usually omitted and this water is plumbed outside via PVC or copper piping by allowing gravity to do its job.

If water starts to escape from the air conditioner’s cabinet, it can indicate a number of different problems. Corrosion in the drain can cause it to break away from the condensate pan, and water will start to fall out the bottom of the pan. The drain can develop algae and become blocked, and the shallow pan will soon overflow. Or the trouble might lie in the condensate pump, which can burn out or flood. Units located in attics are supposed to have a secondary form of protection to prevent property damage such as ceiling collapses, although its not uncommon to find homes without this protection.

In these cases, an additional drain pan known as an emergency drain pan or secondary pan is located under the unit and is meant to be a back up in case there is a problem with the main or “primary” drain system. In most cases, this pan has a secondary drain line hooked up to it that is then plumbed through your attic and terminates somewhere up high on an outside wall (usually on the side or rear of the home). This line is purposely meant to be high up so a homeowner can know there’s a problem with the main drain line if they see water coming from high up on the wall.

Fortunately, these problems are easy to fix—for a professional. Please don’t tamper with the condensate drainage system yourself. A repair technician can detach the pan and provide the cleaning or replacements necessary to stop water from escaping from the AC and causing damage or a rise in humidity in your home.

For our Magic Touch clients, we recommend the installation of an emergency drain sensor, sometimes amusingly referred to as a “ceiling saver”. This device will shut off the unit the moment it detects moisture escaping from the cabinet to prevent further property damage, repair costs and frustration. If you are interested in a ceiling saver for your home, give us a call today!

If you have a leaking air conditioning system in Phoenix, AZ, call for repairs from Magic Touch Mechanical. We’re a 5-time Angie’s List Super Service Award Winner and NATIONAL Contractor of the Year Award Winner!