If your air conditioner is leaking, you’ll be relieved to know that there are a number of simple explanations. In some cases, you’ll be able to solve the issue yourself while in others, you’ll need the help of a professional.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the most common explanations for a leaking air conditioner unit. This will help you plan your next steps from an informed standpoint.
Common Reasons Your Air Conditioner Is Leaking
How you deal with a leak all depends on what is escaping from the unit: gas or water.
Air Conditioner Leaking Water? Check the Condensate Drain Line
The most common cause of an air conditioner leaking water is a clogged condensate drain line. This line is responsible for allowing condensation to escape from your air conditioner. It is connected to the condensate drain pan, which is where the water builds up before being expelled through the line. If the line is clogged, however, the water will build up in this pan and overflow, resulting in the leak.
This isn’t the only explanation for an air conditioner that’s leaking water, however.
If it’s not the drain line, it may be the drain pan. If this pan has been perforated or otherwise damaged, it’s likely not holding water properly.
How To Fix A Leaking Air Conditioner That’s Leaking Water
The condensate drain pipe is very easily accessible. You can usually find it in the form of a white PVC pipe jutting out of your home. If you see no such pipe, refer to your unit’s owner’s manual to see if it may be attached to the air conditioner itself.
Simply attach a dry/wet vacuum cleaner to the pipe and allow it to remove the blockage.
If that doesn’t solve the issue, replace the air conditioner’s filters. Occasionally, the filters get so dirty that they block airflow to the evaporator coil, which in turn causes water leakage.
If your air conditioner is still leaking despite these fixes, you’ll need to have an expert look at and potentially repair one or more of the following:
- condensate drain pan
- condensate pump
- refrigerant levels
Air Conditioner Leaking Freon? Seek Professional Help Immediately
While you may be able to fix a water leak yourself, a freon leak can be more concerning and requires the immediate help of a professional. In Phoenix, air conditioners commonly use refrigerant freon to provide cooling effects.
Freon leaks aren’t very common but they can impact your family’s health. For this reason, we’ll spend a good amount of time discussing them here.
Signs Of A Freon Leak
To confirm your suspicions of an air conditioner leaking freon, look for the following:
- Inadequate Cooling: Leaking refrigerant means your AC won’t have enough of the compound to do its job properly, requiring you to set a lower temperature on your thermostat than usual. This symptom (in addition to frozen coils) will be evident even if it’s your central air conditioner leaking freon.
- A Complete Lack Of Cool Air: If the leak is severe, it may have expended all of your refrigerant supply. When you hold your hand up to the unit, you’ll feel it blowing warm air.
- A Hissing Sound: If you have an indoor air conditioner that’s leaking freon, you may be able to actually hear this gas escaping from the tight spaces in the unit. It will typically make a hissing or whining sound.
- Frozen Coils: As the refrigerant leaks throughout your AC unit, it will likely end up freezing the evaporator coils. The condensation that normally runs off of these coils and into the drain pan will instead freeze in place. As we discussed here, frozen coils may also be accompanied by a buzzing sound in your AC.
- An AC Made Before 2010: None of the air conditioners we currently carry at American Home Water and Air use freon. That’s because the law does not allow air conditioners made after 2010 to contain freon. It’s also unlikely that an air conditioner made after 2005 will have freon in it.
As we discussed in this article, a refrigerant leak can also cause your air conditioner to turn on and off rapidly. If any of the above symptoms are accompanied by this, it may confirm your suspicions.
Health Risks Associated With A Freon Leak
If you have an indoor air conditioning unit, a freon leak can impact your family’s health. Potential issues include refrigerant poisoning, which bears symptoms such as:
Severe occurrences of these symptoms are rare with unintentional inhalation. In other words, you may only experience these symptoms mildly if your exposure to freon is limited to what’s leaking into the air throughout your home.
Keep in mind, though, that children may play near air indoor air conditioners not knowing there’s a leak. Intentional inhalation of the freon can cause these and more symptoms, including breathing difficulty and loss of consciousness.
Common Causes Of A Freon Leak
One common culprit of freon leaks is the improper installation of your air conditioning unit. Poor soldering is usually to blame as freon can escape through improperly sealed areas.
Another potential cause of a freon-leaking air conditioner unit is any kind of physical damage. This is especially true of a central air conditioner leaking freon since lawnmowers and the elements can perforate the unit.
Formaldehyde corrosion is another possible culprit. The acid creates small holes in your air conditioner’s metal and freon can leak out.
How To Fix A Leaking Air Conditioner If Freon Is Involved
If you have an indoor system, minimize exposure to the freon as much as possible. Evacuation isn’t always completely necessary but shut the system off, open your windows, and place fans around the home to ventilate it properly and get the freon out.
Next, call a professional. If you’re in the Phoenix, Arizona area, you’re probably aware of the poor air quality in Phoenix which takes a toll on your air conditioner unit. We encourage you to give American Home Water and Air a call. We have more than 35 years of experience solving all kinds of air conditioner issues, including leaks and freon refills.
A freon leak is not something you can solve by yourself but our professionals can have your system operational in no time.
Air Conditioner Leaking: Conclusion
After reading this guide, you should have a solid understanding of what to do if your air conditioner is leaking. If the unit is leaking water, a clogged condensation line is the likely culprit. Attach a dry/wet vac to the line, which should clear the clog. If that doesn’t work, change the filters. If that doesn’t solve the issue either, contact a professional to investigate some of the other potential causes.
If your air conditioner is leaking freon, however, you should immediately contact a professional. Freon leaking indoors can have adverse health effects on your family while outdoor leaks decrease the system’s efficiency and harm the environment. At AHWA, we have trained professionals in several service areas around the Phoenix metropolitan area providing top notch HVAC and plumbing in Sun City, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa, and many more.