Did you know that dampness and mold problems affect about half of all US homes? This is likely a conservative estimate for homes in North Port, FL, though, where it tends to be very humid.
As if that’s not enough, the city’s muggy conditions can also give rise to a “leaky” air conditioner. A lack of AC maintenance can also exacerbate these issues.
Either way, an air conditioner leaking water can cause even more mold and water damage.
How and why exactly does an air conditioner leak water, though? What should you do if your North Port air conditioning drips non-stop?
We’ll answer all these questions in this guide, so be sure to read on!
A Quick 101 on Condensation in Air Conditioners
Condensation is the process in which gases, such as water vapor, liquifies. In the case of water vapors, condensation turns them into visible water droplets. You’ll most often notice this when humid air comes into contact with cold surfaces.
Now, keep in mind that air conditioners take the heat out of the air that passes over the evaporator coils. These coils are cold, with an average temperature of about 40° Fahrenheit. So, when warm air passes over these cold coils, the moisture in the air transforms into water droplets.
The greater the humidity level, the more condensation that forms on evaporator coils. The thing is, North Port’s “muggy” period lasts for at least seven months. There are even times wherein the conditions are 100% muggy!
It’s during these very humid days wherein an air conditioner leak often occurs.
The Culprits Behind an Air Conditioner Leaking Water
So long as the air has moisture in it, your air conditioner will convert that into water droplets. However, your AC should also be efficient in collecting and draining those droplets. This is why air conditioning systems have a drain pan or tray underneath the evaporator coil.
So, if your AC is leaking water, you most likely have a malfunctioning drain pan. Here are some of the most common issues with it that can result in leaks.
Filth Accumulation on the Drain Tray
The concentration of some indoor air pollutants can be two to five times higher than in outdoor air. These tiny particles can settle and form layers of residue on your AC drain pan. The thicker the filth gets, the likelier the drain hole can get blocked.
The condensation collected by the tray can also turn the debris into a congealed mess. If this happens, the pan may no longer be able to drain incoming water droplets. You may then find that your indoor AC unit is leaking water due to an overflowing tray.
Clogged Drain Line
A blocked drain line itself may also be a reason why your AC is leaking water inside. This is the pipe connected to the drain pan, usually leading toward a floor drain. In any case, the drain line channels and directs the collected water outside of your home.
If something clogs the drain line, the water will have no way to exit your home. Instead, it can flow back toward the drain pan, pool up there, and then overflow.
Damaged Drain Pan
Drain pans usually last as long as the AC itself, which is about 10 to 15 years. This still depends on the pan material, environmental factors, and maintenance, though. For instance, low-quality plastic trays can warp, while ill-maintained metal pans can rust.
Either way, a cracked or damaged drain pan allows water to seep through.
DIY Air Conditioner Leaks: Yay or Nay?
If your AC is leaking water only because of a clogged drain pan, then you can go ahead and clean the pan itself. You can vacuum the tray either with a wet or a dry vacuum. This should help clear the filth build-up so that the water can quickly drain and exit your home.
Make sure you wear gloves and a mask to prevent airborne particle exposure. This is especially important as drain pans can harbor molds and mold spores. Experts say that these fungi might be behind (or contribute to) 40% of asthma and allergy attacks.
However, if your problem involves a frosted or iced-up AC, it’s best to call in the pros. Freezing in ACs can be a sign of deleterious refrigerant leaks.
Frozen Evaporator Coils: A More Pressing Matter
Evaporator coils can form frost or even ice when there’s not enough airflow. This, in turn, can occur if you have filthy filters or an obstructed outdoor unit. Residue build-up can also impair the coils’ functions and make them freeze up.
In any case, you likely have frozen coils if your air conditioner is leaking water non-stop. The water comes from the frost or ice that thaws and melts due to the warm environment.
Do note that a more dangerous cause of freezing is a refrigerant leak. Refrigerants are chemicals, so exposure to them can result in health effects. They’re also flammable, which is why only HVAC experts should handle refrigerant leaks.
Refrigerant leaks are hard to spot, but some audible cues may indicate their presence. If your AC makes weird sounds like buzzing or whistling, take that as a sign of a refrigerant leak. In this case, you should schedule your air conditioner for immediate repairs.
Address Those AC Leaks Before They Wreak More Havoc
Keep in mind that molds and mildew can multiply in humid conditions in as little as 24 to 48 hours. So, an air conditioner leaking water can trigger their spread within just one to two nights. That should be enough reason to get your leaking AC inspected and fixed as soon as possible.