Why Is My Air Conditioner Leaking?

June 9, 2020by admin

When the hot summers hit Richmond, Virginia, we get by thanks to our air conditioners. Even if you enjoy the heat, there will be many days when the soaring temperatures and thick humidity feel like it’s too much to take. It can be extra stressful, then, when things go wrong with something you depend on so much. If you’ve noticed your air conditioner leaking, it’s understandable to feel a little panicked.

A small amount of condensation and dripping can be normal, but there are factors that can lead to significant leakage. In addition to wanting to protect your cooling system, it’s also important to address this issue to safeguard your home against structural damage. If you’ve been wondering why your air conditioner is leaking, let’s discuss some of the possible causes.

Dirty Air Filter

person changing air filter
Serenethos/ Bigstockphoto.com

Whether your problem is reduced air flow, poor heating/cooling, or a leaky air conditioner, one of the most common causes is a dirty air filter. You’d be amazed by how quickly dirt, dust, and debris can become trapped, quickly impacting performance. It can even cause your cooling system’s evaporator coils to freeze, leading to water overflowing from the drainage pan.

Fortunately, this often-overlooked issue has a relatively easy fix — change your air filter! If you have any concerns about possible damage, or need guidance on which filter to choose, an HVAC professional can be a great resource.

Low Refrigerant Level

Maintaining proper refrigerant levels is essential to keeping your air conditioner running optimally. The pressure inside your unit can drop when refrigerant levels get too low and, as was the case with the dirty air filter, can cause the evaporator coils to freeze and create overflow when it melts.

There are other signs that your air conditioner’s refrigerant level has become too low. If you notice that your system isn’t cooling well or has been making a bubbling or hissing noise, it might be time to reach out to a qualified HVAC technician.

Clogged Condensate Drain

One very common reason why air conditioners leak is that the condensate drain line has become clogged. Sludge, dirt, fungi, and even algae can accumulate, making it hard for your cooling unit to function properly.

Some may find it helpful to use a wet-dry vacuum to clear things up from time to time. While DIY methods can save homeowners time and money, the most reliable way to fix this problem is to call in a professional. An HVAC technician will use a special vacuum designed to tackle these types of blockages.

Cracked Drain Pan

Inside your indoor air handler, you’ll find the evaporator coil and drain pan. This receptacle is designed to catch condensation from your cooling unit. Over time (especially with HVAC systems that are more than 10 years old), the drain pan can rust or crack. This can cause your air conditioner to leak.

If you have a wet-dry vacuum, turn off your cooling unit to clear away any debris or water. Then, using a flashlight, carefully inspect the pan for any signs of damage. There are DIY articles on the internet offering tips for patching up the cracks, but it’s best to replace the pan as soon as you can.

It’s Cold Outside

woman standing in front of open window
Mihailo K/ Bigstockphoto.com

To conserve on energy and reduce wear and tear on your HVAC unit, it’s always best to use it only when necessary. There will be plenty of times when simply cracking a window is enough to cool a home, especially in late spring and early fall. Still, we love our comforts and sometimes we let our air conditioning run longer than it needs to.





When the outdoor air dips below 60°F, for example, setting your air conditioner to 65°F indoors can cause problems. The coils could ice up or freeze, causing your unit to leak water when they thaw.

Poor Installation

Are you living in a brand new home or did you have an air conditioner recently installed? If your cooling system is leaking, it could be the result of faulty installation. There are a number of things that could have gone wrong, so it’s important to address this as soon as possible.

First, you want to make sure that the air conditioner was properly sized for your home. Whether it’s too big or too small, this will lead to problems down the road. Also, if your unit wasn’t installed correctly, it’s possible that the drain line has become disconnected, which could explain any leaking you’ve seen.

Air Conditioner Repair in Richmond, Virginia

We want your summer to be carefree and pleasant, which is why W.G. Speeks is here to help make sure you stay cool and comfortable. Our NATE-certified technicians can help you troubleshoot a leaky air conditioner and any other concerns you might have about your heating and cooling system.

We offer a no-risk, free consultation with a commitment to providing the very best customer experience. We’ve been proudly serving the Richmond area for more than 75 years, and we’re grateful to be part of such an amazing community. Give W.G. Speeks a call today — we’re here to help!

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