A dripping air conditioner–it’s a sight that no one wants to see–especially as a Texan in August. What does it mean? Should you be worried? Is your house about to turn into an oven? Even worse–what happens if you can’t stop it? Here, we’ll get to the bottom of what a dripping air conditioner means and what you can do about it.
First things first, you’ve got a puddle collecting around your air conditioner, or maybe a nice steady drip coming from an overhead unit. Where is it coming from exactly, and why? It’s important to note that water is actually a normal part of the air conditioner's cycle. However, if it’s running all over the place, there’s obviously a problem! Let’s check out the cooling cycle a little bit more in-depth to understand:
The air conditioning unit removes moist, warm air from your home. During this step, the air is sucked into the evaporator coil, where the heat and humidity are extracted from the air, turning it into a hot gas. Once the heat is extracted from the air, it is blown back out into your home. But where does the heat go?
The hot gas is then passed onto the compressor (the outside unit), where it’s, well, compressed! Here, it’s basically formed into an even more condensed, hotter vapor.
The hot vapor is expelled outdoors.
I know what you’re thinking: where’s the water in all this? Well, remember the humidity that was extracted in the first step? That humidity, aka the water, slowly builds up in the evaporator coil, where it eventually drips down into the drain pan. This is where you do want to see some water.
Now that we understand how the cooling cycle works, we can also understand that seeing excess water around your air conditioner is not normal.
Your AC could be dripping water for many different reasons. These could include:
Damaged drain pan
A drain pan is exactly what it sounds like. It sits under your indoor AC unit and collects the water runoff from the machine, feeding it into the drain line to dispose of. If your drain pan is damaged, it’s wise to fix or replace it right away.
Clogged drain line
Moreover, a clogged drain line can be quite a headache. Although ideally, only water (condensate) should be running through this, lots of older or poorer quality machines can allow for debris to build up within the drain line over time, causing it to eventually clog. Another not-so-nice culprit could be a buildup of algae. Algae love moisture and the dark, and the drain line is home sweet home to this slimy creature.
Failed condensate pump
If your AC unit is in a spot where gravity can’t naturally take away the water expelled from your machine, you definitely have a condensate pump. This is a simple pump that carries the water away from the machine and your home to dispose of it. Much like any other machine, the pump can fail, thus completely stopping the outward flow of water, and causing your AC to become leaky.
Frozen evaporator coil
The evaporator coil in your unit can freeze for a couple of reasons: a refrigerant leak or obstruction of airflow. No matter which of these freezes your evaporator coil, the outcome is the same: the evaporator coil creates chunks of ice which eventually thaw and overwhelm the drain pan, thus causing an overflow.
In our next blog post, we’ll explore what to do when your air conditioner is dripping water. If you have a dripping or leaking air conditioner, please do not hesitate to call us here at Tri-Point Refrigeration. We are committed to providing our clients with the utmost quality of service while giving your AC the TLC it deserves.
We’re excited to help you along the way, and with regular servicing, we can keep your equipment running smoothly and healthily, while also extending the reach of your dollar.
For a direct line to any of our employees ready on the line to help you, please call…(512) 651-4565 for our Austin, Texas community (806) 686-0050 for our Lubbock, Texas community.
Or check out our website at www.tripointrefrigeration.com