Before you read this article, I’d like you take a deep breath. Everything is going to be fine. I get it. You’re seeing water gathering around your central air unit and it’s making you nervous. No one wants to be the person with the broken air conditioner heading into the first heat wave here in Orlando.
So let’s discuss, in this article, a few things that could cause what you’re seeing, so that you can make an informed call to the professional who handles your AC repair needs.
First: why water is forming inside the unit in the first place.
Your air conditioner doesn’t magically command the temperature to go down. It’s pulling humidity from the air and passing it over something called an evaporator coil in order to cool the air. Therefore, it’s totally normal for condensation to occur. It’s the same principle that causes water rings on your nice coffee table when you put a cold beverage down without a coaster.
Normally, that water falls into a drain pan that carries it safely outside, or connects to your plumbing, so you never have to see it. If you’re seeing water, something in that chain of events has gone awry, but I’d still tell you not to panic. Water is wet, but not poisonous.
The first – and fairly commonplace – reason I’ll draw your attention to? A frozen evaporator coil: This can occur if your air filter is filthy (which lowers the temperature inside the unit too much) or if your refrigerant levels are low. If you’re seeing a frozen evaporator coil, turn the air conditioner off, turn the blower on, and let the fan melt the ice slowly, so the drain pan can do its job.
The other – and this one is as common, if not more so – is a clogged drain line. This can be caused by bugs, dirt, mold, or any kind of buildup. It gives the water nowhere to go, so it naturally backs up. You can use a Wet/Dry shop vacuum to suck out the external condensate pipe (usually this is PVC, and it’s where the water normally escapes).
You could also see this kind of behavior if your drain pan is rusted or leaky, in which case the appropriate response is to call for air conditioning service and have it replaced.
There are other issues, but these are the most common. If you check for these and are still experiencing water leaks, call for AC repair, and have an Orlando professional look your system over.
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Michael Haines is a veteran A/C contractor and founder of the largest and oldest e-commerce site in the heating and air conditioning industry. His HVAC websites have served 10's of thousands of customers.