Your air conditioning unit and its air handler are big and elaborate pieces of electrical equipment. The last thing you want is to hear the quiet “drip, drip, drip” of leaking water coming from your air handler! Unfortunately, there are quite a few reasons why your air handler might be leaking water.
It could be that you have a clogged condensate drain line, or that the drain pan located beneath your unit is damaged or rusted. You might also be that your condensate pump is broken, which will – unfortunately – need to be replaced promptly. Finally, you could simply have an unclean filter, or refrigerant that’s low: these are things that can easily be checked for during a routine maintenance check. And they’re easy to fix. But we’ll discuss all of these issues – and how to diagnose them – in greater detail.
Before we dive into why you might have an air handler leaking water, let’s talk about what to do when you first hear water leaking from the bottom of an air handler.
Air Handler Leaking Water? 3 Things To Do Next
When you first hear the “drip” of water leaking from your air handler, there are a few things you should do immediately. Before another second goes by,
- Turn off your A/C unit. This is pivotal. Your A/C unit is a big piece of electrical equipment. That means having standing water on or near it could be extremely dangerous. Turn off the A/C unit immediately before you try to do anything else (that includes touching or cleaning up the water at all).
- Clean up the water. If it’s just a little water, a dish towel or bath towel should do the trick. If you’re dealing with a lot of spilled water, you may need to use a shop vac to get it all. Be prompt in your clean-up, though. Otherwise, the standing water could be causing problems or further damage to the components of your unit.
- Call a professional. The leak was no fluke! Something about your unit is not working properly. And it needs to be fixed immediately if you want to run your A/C again. Put in a call to the trusted folks at a licensed HVAC servicer like A/C Care. We’ll respond promptly and professionally so the issue can be diagnosed and resolved. Then you can get back to enjoying your cool air quickly.
4 Reasons Why Your Air Handler is Leaking Water
Now that the area is dry, safe, and you’ve put in a call to the trusted folks at A/C Care, we can take a moment to discuss what might be happening. Here are the top four reasons why your A/C handler is leaking water.
The condensate drain pipe is clogged
The condensate drain pipe is the channel through which the water extracted from your air gets drained out of your home. But sometimes it can become clogged with dust, debris, sludge, and other icky stuff. This causes the water to back up into your home, causing a leak. This is the most common cause of leaks around air handlers.
Luckily, it’s relatively easy to resolve by using a shop vac to suck the debris out. If that doesn’t work, your licensed HVAC technician will have a special vacuum that’s uniquely designed for condensate drain pipe cleaning. They will certainly be able to solve the issue.
You have dirty evaporator coils or a rusted drain pan
What would cause a condensate drain pipe to clog? One likely culprit is dirt that’s come from the evaporator coils. These coils are what pull the water out of your air and send the condensed water down through the drain pipe. But if they become dirty, that dirt and water can mix together to make a sludge that will clog your drains. A rusted drain pan can also cause this same problem: the rusting, deteriorated metal in the pan can also create clogs in your drain.
You’re low on refrigerant/Freon or have frozen evaporator coils
If the refrigerant in your unit gets low, it will cause the pressure in your air conditioning unit to go down. This will cause your evaporator coils to freeze. Once those coils melt again, it will create an overflow of water that can overwhelm your drain pan and create a leak.
Your condensate trap was installed improperly.
If the unit is relatively new or was just installed, it’s always possible that the condensate trap was installed incorrectly. This can definitely cause a leak, and unfortunately is something that a trained technician will have to come and diagnose for you.
Ways To Fix Your Air Conditioning Unit Yourself if Your Air Handler is Leaking Water
Leaks are no fun, no matter what’s causing them (in fact, they can be downright dangerous!). The good news is that there are many things you can do proactively to prevent a leak before it occurs, or resolve a leak that’s just about to happen. Here are a couple of things you can try:
Make It a Habit to Change Your Air Filters
It’s simply good practice to change your filters regularly (most specialists will recommend doing it about once every 1-3 months). This will prevent dirt and debris from building up that could ultimately clog your drain pipe. It will also ensure your air is of higher quality and that your unit can run efficiently. You can find air filters at any local hardware or home renovation store, and they’re very easy to pop in and out of your system.
Clean Out the Condensate Drain Line
If it’s been a while or you suspect you may have a clog, take a look at the condensate drain line. Then you’ll want to consider clearing it out with a shop vac to prevent future clogs. You could even use an extension on a typical home vacuum cleaner if the clog is not too deep or too large.
Make Sure Your Drain Pan Is the Right Fit for Your Unit
You’ll be able to tell if the drain pan is not a good fit for your unit. It should sit comfortably just beneath the unit and be able to catch all dripping condensate. This means no drops should be falling around the outside rim of the pan! If the pan is too small (or if it’s cracked, rusting, bent, or damaged), don’t hesitate to replace it.
Pour Mild degreaser (Simple Green) that is non corrosive into Your Drain Line Every 6 Months
Turning off your unit and pouring Simple Green through the condensate drain pipe is one way to really cleanse the drainage system and ensure no sludge or dirt is allowed to build up. Please wear safety goggles and gloves when working with any chemical, and only handle the chemical when children and pets are fully clear of the area.
Don’t Overwork Your Air Conditioner When It’s Hot Outside
Running an air conditioner efficiently (and preventing it from developing leaks) sometimes means cutting it a break. If it’s 115 degrees outside, cooling your home to 60 degrees inside is an unrealistic expectation for even the highest-quality machines. Ultimately, it will create problems… and leaks.
Set reasonable expectations with your A/C unit so it’s not overworked. You can talk to a trained HVAC technician about what those expectations look like for your unit (since they’re all a little different).
Is Your Air Handler Leaking Water? Let Us Help
There are a lot of reasons your air handler might be leaking. Your first step should always be to turn the unit off, and then to clean up the water promptly. Then, reach out to your knowledgeable and professional HVAC specialist for help.
The talented team at A/C Care can help you understand what’s happening with your unit. Maybe the condensate drain pipe has clogged. Or perhaps the drain pan has become rusted. Maybe you just need to replace your filters to prevent future clogging. Whatever it is, let the experts at A/C Care help if your indoor air handler is leaking water.
And keep in mind that there are important things you can be doing, too, to help prevent future leaks. Change your filters regularly (about once every 1-3 months). Investigate the condensate drain pipe periodically to ensure no sludge build-up is occurring. Then, vacuum it out if you see any potential clogs. And finally, keep an eye on your drain pan. Change it out if it’s not an ideal fit for your unit.
Being a proactive A/C owner can really help you get the most out of your machine! At the same time, it helps you maintain a comfortable environment, and prevent any serious issues from occurring.