When you listen to your air conditioning system running during the summer, you’ll occasionally hear the sound of dripping water. Your air conditioner doesn’t use water to cool the house (there’s a separate type of cooling system called an evaporative cooler that uses water, but these are rare in Florida); the sound you’re hearing is moisture drawn from the air as the AC goes through its cooling cycle.
For the most part, you don’t need to think about this water—an air conditioning system is designed to remove moisture from the unit and either allow it to drip outside or enter into the wastewater system. But like any component in an air conditioner, the parts designed to remove water can malfunction, and this is why you might see water dripping from your AC.
Why Water Leaks Can Start
To help explain why you might see water leaking from your air conditioner, we’ll need to explain in a bit more detail how the air conditioner removes moisture when it’s working correctly.
As refrigerant in the indoor coil evaporates to draw heat from the air moving through the AC, it also causes moisture in the air to condense along the coil. This moisture drips off the coil and falls into a shallow pan (the condensate pan) located underneath the coil. A pump draws the water from the pan down a drain through which the water exits the air conditioner and the house.
There are several ways this condensate drainage system may malfunction and cause leaks:
- The drain can become clogged with algal growth. This is a common occurrence in Florida because of the high humidity. If the drain is clogged, the pan will rapidly overflow with water (the pan is only about an inch deep) and leak out of the AC.
- The drain can come loose from the pan because of corrosion and age, allowing the water to fall through the bottom of the pan.
- The condensate pump may fail and it will not draw the water out of the pan fast enough.
Regardless of what’s causing the water leaks, you’ll want the problem repaired as soon as possible. The leaks can cause water damage, but this isn’t the only problem. An overflowing pan can trigger a limit switch that will shut the AC off. If the screen of your digital thermostat goes blank, it’s likely because the limit switch was tripped. Condensate troubles also increase the humidity inside the AC, which will lead to mold growth that will harm efficiency and create the smelly “dirty sock syndrome” that often affects ACs in humid climates.
There’s one last possibility, which is that the water dripping from the AC isn’t water at all, but refrigerant from a leak in one of the refrigerant lines. This is another serious problem you’ll want corrected as soon as you can get air conditioning repair in St Petersburg, FL.
No matter your concerns about your AC, you can trust our technicians to quickly get to the bottom of the problem and have it fixed.
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