When it comes to air con fault finding, trying to figure out why your air conditioner is leaking water is one of the most frustrating. Air conditioners are complex machines with a lot of components, creating multiple possible sources for a leak.
Getting to the bottom of the problem takes detailed investigation, and because air conditioners are electrical appliances, this should ideally be carried out by experts. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t carry out some superficial investigations of your own. There are some simple fixes than you can work through, and possibly save yourself the cost of hiring a specialist.
Here are some of the most common reasons why an air conditioner leaks water.
Rusty drain pan
Rusty drain pans are a common cause of air conditioner leaks in Queensland, because high humidity creates the perfect condition for rust. It’s also common in seaside or estuarine suburbs, where salt carries on oceanic breezes before being ingested by air conditioners.
When the air conditioner’s drain pan rusts, its base weakens and holes will eventually form. The pan will then fail to collect water, and any internal condensation will simply leak out of the unit. In those cases, a replacement drain pan is in order. However, it’s important to ensure that rust isn’t affecting any parts of your air conditioner. It can be fatal to air conditioner units, and any sign of rust (including in the drain pan) is a fair indicator that your air conditioner is on the way out.
Clogged drain pan
Rust isn’t the only enemy of your drain pan—clogs can degrade them too. When the drain pan clogs, it can cause a large buildup of water and eventually overflow, often resulting in more sudden and serious leaks.
Clogs are usually a simple fix, but it depends on the circumstances. In this instance, you’ll need professional help to identify the cause of the blockage, because it’s important to know what has caused the obstruction in case it is a sign of more sinister wear and tear.
Occasionally, drain pans are blocked by small air conditioner components that perish within the system and fall into the drain pan. When that happens, it’s a good sign that your air conditioner needs serious maintenance.
Disconnected drain line
The air conditioner’s drain line is the first and last line of defence against serious leaks. It ensures that all moisture and condensation is drained out of your air conditioning system, in an appropriate and manageable way. Needless to say, if it’s disconnected, your air conditioner will leak like a sieve. If you can safely access your drain line without dismantling or disassembling the unit, then you should check to ensure that it is still attached to the drainage outlet. You should also check to see that it’s in reasonable condition. It’s uncommon for the lines to loosen, but it can occur and often does when inexperienced or unqualified individuals perform air conditioner services or installations.
Clogged condensation line
When your air conditioner removes water vapour from the air, that vapour condenses in the condensate line. If all is working well in your system, then it should transport that condensate through the drain line and out of the system. However, if there is debris present within the condensate, then that can accumulate over time into a major obstruction. In serious cases, it can cause the condenser line to rupture, which then causes serious leaks. Any issues involving your condenser line will require fast and professional attention. If you are noticing leaks in your system, stop using it and get an expert to take a look.
Damaged or fouled coils
Icy coils can cause leaks in air conditioners, and might also be a sign of something sinister. In a lot of cases, ice develops on coils that are not properly cleaned or maintained. Air conditioners in Brisbane need an annual service, plus regular maintenance to remain at their best. Part of that maintenance includes coil cleaning, because dust and debris disturbs the thermodynamics of the coils and can cause condensation in the wrong areas. When that condensation creates ice, you’ve got a problem.
Icy evaporator coils
Icy evaporator coils are one of the most common causes of air conditioner leaks, and they’re usually a result of overuse and humidity. When you run an air conditioner non-stop for a long period, humidity can condense within the unit and build on the evaporator coils, before freezing. That only compounds the problem, as more moisture condenses over the coils before freezing and builds into a block of ice. When enough ice amasses, the outer layers will melt and refreeze in a cycle, causing icy water to leak out of the unit.
A lot of the time, you can fix that by simply turning off your air conditioner for a while and letting it defrost. However, there’s a chance that a leak somewhere else in your unit has caused the icy build-up, in which case it will recur until you find and fix the underlying leak. or replace the unit. When you see ice, it’s important to stop running your air conditioner, because doing so can seize your compressor pump and potentially destroy the entire unit.
In a humid state like Queensland, it’s normal for a small amount of condensation to drip from your unit, especially for older box air conditioners which drain from the outdoor unit one drop at a time. If you see drips from the outside unit of your box air conditioner, don’t panic. Inspect your air conditioner carefully and ensure that there’s only a small amount dripping from the correct drainage hole. If you see any signs of rust, internal leaking, or water coming from areas it’s not supposed to, then it’s vital that you stop using your air conditioner and hire a professional to take a look.