My AC is Leaking
Many homeowners are surprised to find out that their AC units can leak. In the best of cases this leak doesn’t do any damage to our homes and is easily fixable. Other times people discover that their AC is leaking when water stains begin to develop on their ceilings. There are a couple of reasons that your AC unit could be leaking and it’s best to address these quickly to keep your unit functioning well and prevent damage to your home.
There are two things that could be leaking from your unit. In most cases it’s simply water, however HVAC systems also contain a refrigerant that can leak overtime.
Water leaks, as we said, are the most common leak we find. Although HVAC units don’t contain any water, they do produce large amounts of condensation while heating and cooling air. This condensation is collected and run through special drain lines that extend outside of the home. Occasionally something in this system breaks or is not working properly. This is when homeowners discover that their AC system is leaking.
The condensation collected from the inside unit, known as an air handler, is run through a long pipe that extends outside. Sometimes this drain line can become disconnected and all of this water will drain inside the home. Another problem we see with drain lines is they can become clogged and not allow for proper drainage. If the outside drain line ends below the ground or if fungal growth has developed inside the drain line it can prevent it from functioning correctly.
Another cause of leaks from your AC system is clogged air filters. Air filters should be changed regularly not only to improve air quality in our homes but to keep our HVAC systems running well. Refrigerant in the unit requires enough air to properly cool. If airflow is restricted by clogged filters the refrigerant will be too cold and create ice on the evaporator coils. This ice will then melt and can create a mess to clean up later.
Although less common we can also see leaks from the refrigerant used in our AC systems. There are several ways to tell if your AC is leaking refrigerant. Typically, you will see higher electric bills as your system isn’t functioning as well as it should be. You may also notice that it is taking longer to cool your home. Or you may feel warm air rather than cold coming from your registers. Last if you are looking at your unit, you may notice ice buildup on the coils. Unfortunately, refrigerant leaks can be more difficult to identify because there’s several types of them.
Standing leaks are the most common refrigerant leak we find. These are also the easiest to locate as you can find them even when the air conditioning unit is off.
Pressure Dependent Leak
Some refrigerant leaks are only active when under pressure. This means that we have to run the unit under a certain amount of pressure to be able to detect where the leak is coming from.
Temperature Dependent Leak
Temperature dependent leaks are similar to pressure dependent leaks in that they only occur under certain temperatures.
Vibrational Dependent Leak
Another type of refrigerant leak that only occurs when the unit is running is a vibrational dependent leak. This occurs when refrigerant lines rub against other pieces of the unit creating a small leak.
Combination Dependent Leak
Sometimes leaks can be even more difficult to identify. This happens when a leak is dependent on two or more factors. For example, only when the system is under pressure and rubbing against other components.
Dealing with your AC is leaking can be difficult. First you have to identify what is leaking and then figure out from where. If it’s a refrigerant leak, you will need to have a professional to take care of it. Although water leaks can be easier to fix, they are frequently in hard-to-reach areas and require some experience to repair properly.