Quick Fix for Leaky A/C Systems
Updated: Jul 3, 2018
The most common complaint homeowners have about their central air-conditioning system is water leaks. In fact, nearly 90% of all central-air service calls are related to leaks. And although these leaks are relatively small, if left unchecked, they can cause a tremendous amount of damage, especially when the air handler is installed above a ceiling.
However, most homeowners don’t realize that a vast majority of leaks can be easily repaired without ever calling a service technician. Here are the three main reasons why a central A/C system leaks: 1) there’s a crack or hole in overflow drain pan, 2) the air filter is clogged with dirt, or 3) the condensate line is plugged up.
The first cause is easily detected by simply using a flashlight to carefully inspect the overflow pan for damage. Check each corner, along the outside edges, and of course, directly above the wettest spot. Small holes and cracks can be patched with epoxy glue, but it’s usually best to replace a damaged overflow pan.
The second reason can be avoided by simply changing the A/C unit’s air filter on a regular basis. Most filters are designed to be used for a month or two, but you should inspect the filter every month during the cooling season. If the filter appears dirty, replace it immediately. A dirty filter will cause ice to form on the unit’s evaporator coils, and when that ice melts it drips water.
The third reason—a clogged condensate line—is the most common cause of A/C leaks. The condensate line drains condensation from the overflow pan to the outside or directly into a drainpipe. When the line becomes clogged, water backs up and floods the overflow pan.
There are a couple of different ways to clear a clogged condensate line, including using a wet/dry vacuum to suck out the clog. However, a better option is to use a manual pump, such as the A/C Drain Pump, which is specifically designed for clearing condensate lines (For more information, visit: www.ac-drain-pump.com.)
Another reason to keep the condensate line clear is that most modern A/C units are equipped with a water-overflow cutoff switch, which automatically shuts down the A/C system if it detects a clogged condensate line. The switch helps prevent water damage, which is good, but most homeowners don’t know why their air-conditioning system suddenly shuts down, and they call a service technician.
Avoid costly damage and expensive service calls by regularly clearing the condensate line; don’t wait for it to become clogged. And once the line is clear, you can help prevent the accumulation of slime, algae, mildew and bacteria by pouring a little chlorine bleach down the line once every four to six months. You can also buy condensate tablets that help keep lines and overflow pans clean.