If you listen to the sounds that an air conditioner makes as it runs, you’ll notice the occasional sound of the drip of water. This isn’t a malfunction but part of how the AC works. And if you can hear water inside your air conditioner, that must mean the water gets sent somewhere, because you don’t see water dripping out of the AC.
Except you might. Water leaking from an AC unit is a sign of a malfunction, and you’ll want professionals on the job as soon as possible to get it fixed.
Where does this water come from?
Before we look at why an AC might start to leak water, we have to look at why there’s water in the AC in the first place. An air conditioner doesn’t use water to cool down the air, but it does create water as a byproduct of the cooling process. As cold refrigerant moves through the indoor evaporator coil of the AC, it evaporates and draws heat from the warm air moving past it. This evaporation also causes moisture in the air to condense onto the coil’s surface. It’s the same effect you see when you take a glass or can of cold liquid out of the refrigerator—moisture will soon start to form along its exterior.
Where does the water go?
When the AC works normally, the condensate water on the evaporator coil drips off it and falls into a shallow pan located underneath the coil assembly. From there, a pump draws the water down a drain and through a line that goes outside the house where the water drips onto the ground. The parts responsible for removing the water from the AC is called the condensate drainage system.
Why water might escape from the AC
Now that you have a picture of the formation and movement of water in your AC, it’s simple to explain how it can leak:
- Clogged condensate drain: The condensate drain can become clogged with dust or algal growth, and this will rapidly cause the shallow condensate pan to overflow.
- Broken pump: The motor of the pump that draws the water down the condensate drain may fail, which will also lead to the water overflowing the pan.
- Detached drain: Corrosion on the drain can cause it to detach from the bottom of the pan, leaving a hole for water to drip through.
- Cracked pan: Age and heat can lead to the plastic condensate pan cracking and allowing water to drip through.
- Overwhelmed system: If the AC is pulling too much moisture from the air, it can possibly cause the condensate drainage system to be overwhelmed.
Water escaping from the AC may trip a limit switch that will cause the system to shut down. If your air conditioner suddenly stops working and the digital thermostat is blank, it’s likely because the condensate pan overflowed. Regardless of how you discover water leaking from your AC, you’ll want the best experts in HVAC in Parker, CO to diagnose and repair the problem. Our team is ready to help.