Air Conditioner Problems & Troubleshooting Tips

Air Conditioner Problems Raining on Your Parade?

Leaking Just when you were having a good month with no major disasters, and you were actually optimistic about getting ahead of expenses, your maintenance guy comes in to tell you that there’s a puddle of water around your indoor air conditioning unit. Now you’ve got that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach in anticipation of an expensive repair bill.

Don’t panic! It may look bad, but in many cases, your air conditioner problems–even water leaks are not an expensive fix, if you’ve caught it quickly.

5 common causes of an AC leaking water:

1. Insulation is cracked or missing.

During the dog days of summer, as your air conditioner is removing all that humidity from the air, the evaporator coil and suction line collect condensation on the outside. This is normal, and the insulation keeps the condensation flowing down the coil instead of dripping. But if the insulation has a crack or a hole, the water can drip and eventually puddle. In this case, the insulation needs to be taped up or replaced.

2. Dirty evaporator coils.

New York City air is rough on air conditioning equipment. If there is a layer of dust and dirt covering the coil, the condensation doesn’t flow properly down the coil and into the pan, and some gets trapped by the dirt and drips onto the floor. To fix this problem, you need to bring in an HVAC service tech to thoroughly clean the coils.

3. Plugged drain line or drain trap.

If you forgot to do your regular maintenance this year and your unit is dirty, the condensation carries some dirt and debris into your drip pan and the drain line, which can eventually become plugged. The water backs up and you end up with a puddle. The drain trap can also become clogged with dirt and the pan will overflow. Again, your system just needs a good cleaning. But if your unit happens to be in a ceiling or crawl space, you could end up with serious water damage before you even realize there’s a problem.

4. Disconnected drain line.

Sometimes if a unit has been poorly installed, the drain line can actually become disconnected and cause a big mess. Call in an experienced HVAC professional to reattach and cement the fittings on the drain line.

5. Frozen coils due to dirty air filter.

When air flow through your air conditioner is impeded by a neglected air filter, eventually the evaporator coils will freeze and you’ll actually see ice build up on the outside. As the ice begins to melt, it drips all over the floor (or through your ceiling). Dealing with a frozen system calls for immediate help from a professional to prevent further damage to the system and future air conditioner problems, but if you’re lucky the fix could be as simple as replacing a filter.

Don’t let it happen again!

All of these problems are easily preventable with regular system maintenance. In the future, have your air conditioner regularly cleaned and serviced to prevent water leaks from happening again. At least twice per year, before startup in the spring and after shut down in the fall, call in an HVAC expert to thoroughly clean and tune up your system. While any preventative maintenance plan should be tailored to fit your needs and your budget, it generally includes these tasks that prevent the problems leading to water leaks:

  • Thoroughly clean the system, including evaporator coils
  • Change air filters
  • Clear drain lines and traps
  • Check condition of insulation
  • Check for other potential problems including refrigerant charge which can also lead to coils freezing and water leaks

Interested in learning more about how preventative maintenance can keep help you avoid breakdowns AND save you money? Download our helpful guide to HVAC Preventative Maintenance Contracts: How to Find the Right One for Your HVAC Infrastructure.

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