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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Is your central air conditioner forming ice? Are you concerned about freezing in the interior unit or the outdoor lineset? Do you want to know why before you call an Orlando area AC company? It helps to do a check yourself, so you know what kind of air conditioning repair service is in order. Before you do, let’s go over what you might find, and what, if anything, you can do about it.
Here are some common things that can cause ice to form inside your air conditioner.
First: you’re experiencing refrigerant issues. Low refrigerant or an incorrect charge can cause problems with your AC. This is because refrigerant is the part of your air conditioner that actually … you know … conditions the air. It collects the heat in your home and gets rid of it. Over time, leaks in your system, poor maintenance, and just old-fashioned wear can drop your refrigerant levels below the optimum, which can cause your air conditioner to form ice. It develops on the evaporator coils. If they are dirty or it is particularly humid, the problem can worsen quickly.
What do you do? If you live in Orlando, call an air conditioning repair service and have them inspect your refrigerant levels. They’ll check for leaks, charge your system properly, and get it all going again.
Second: improper airflow. If air isn’t flowing through your system properly, you’ll see ice forming on the coils before long. It’s a bit like suffocating your system – it’s choking on too much air, which causes the air to drop below freezing, which in turn causes the condensate on the coils to freeze over. It gets worse the longer it is left unchecked. The root cause of this kind of freeze is usually a dirty air filter. Those are supposed to be changed every month or two – check out your specific manufacturer’s guidelines for that.
The obvious solution is to change the air filter, of course, but if you’ve gone too long without doing that, it could have dirtied or damaged other parts of your system, in
There are a few other things that can cause ice to form in your unit, most of which are related to the two we’ve already gone over. You might not have enough return ducts, or your ductwork could be too small, too large, or damaged. Your evaporator coils could have gotten dirty. No matter what the root cause, it’s important to attend to it as quickly as possible. Do what you can on your own, but have your Orlando AC company phone number handy, just in case.
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.