4 Common Reasons Why Your A/C Unit Could Spring a Leak
If your thoughts immediately go to your plumbing upon seeing a water leak, then you may be surprised to learn of your air conditioner as the culprit. A/C systems can generate small amounts of water throughout the air conditioning process. Although this water is usually drained away without issue, there are several reasons why your A/C system could suddenly spring a leak.
Clogged Drain Lines
Drain line blockages caused by debris or algae accumulation can prevent the unit from draining properly. Without proper drainage, water within the condensate drip tray will continue to accumulate until it eventually overflows and leaks out of the A/C system.
You can use the powerful suction of your wet/dry shop vacuum to remove most clogs. Simply place the end of the vacuum nozzle over the drain inlet and wait until the vacuum dislodges and removes the clog. You can also use a small plumbing snake to break up stubborn clogs located deep within the drain line.
Damaged Condensate Drip Tray
It's not unusual for the condensate drip tray itself to become damaged during its lifespan. Plastic drip trays tend to degrade and develop cracks with age, while metal drain pans often take on rust and corrosion over time. These issues can cause accumulated water to leak out of the tray and out of the A/C system itself. Although it may be possible to repair damaged condensate drip trays with epoxy or putty, depending on the material, it's usually easier to replace the entire drip tray.
Ice buildup on your air conditioner's evaporator coil can also lead to an unexpected water leak. The melting ice can easily overwhelm your A/C system's ability to drain the excess water, causing it to overflow the tray and leak out of the A/C unit. When defrosting an A/C unit, you should always keep an eye on the condensate drip tray and take measures to prevent a spillage caused by an overwhelmed drain line.
An improperly installed A/C system is one that could leak water sooner or later. One of the most common installation issues involves the omission of the p-trap, a device that prevents the A/C unit from sucking outside air into the unit through the drain line. This allows water in the condensate drip tray to drain normally. Installing an A/C system without a p-trap on the drain line increases the likelihood of a water leak.