4 Causes Of A Leaky Air Conditioner You Can Fix Yourself

When your air conditioner is running all day and night because the summer temperatures are unbearable without it, it pays to head outside and check the condenser unit at least once a week for signs of trouble. If you discover a giant puddle of water surrounding your outdoor unit, don't panic and call for immediate repairs. You may be able to fix the problem with one of these four techniques without having to pay for a service visit from a repair technician.

Damaged Drain Pan

Since air conditioners remove a lot of moisture from the air while lowering the temperature, the equipment is designed to gather all that water in one big drain pan before sending it away from the unit down a tube or PVC pipe. When that drain pan becomes cracked or rusted, all that moisture drips out through the bottom of the unit and puddles around it. The drain pan should be easy to access without opening the main case of the outdoor A/C unit since it needs regular inspection and cleaning. Look for a small handle or a separate flap door near the bottom of the box to find the pan.

If you notice any damage to the pan, you can try patching the problem area with a two-part epoxy. These adhesives bond tightly with the metal and won't wash away from being covered in water for years on end. However, this kind of damage usually means the pan is already on its way out, so replacing it is usually smarter than trying to patch the holes and cracks.

Clogged Drain Line

The pan empties all that accumulated water into a connected drain line. If you don't notice any problems with the pan while checking it, move onto the pipe or rubber hose itself. Pour some water into the top of the line where it connects to the pan and watch to see whether it sits or drains. When you confirm that this pipe is clogged, you can use a number of tools to remove the blockage.

Try use a length of wire, like a straightened coat hanger, to carefully and gently ream the pipe clear again. You can also try a wet/dry vacuum if you have one on hand. Simply start sucking from the open end of the drain and use an attachment that fits tightly into the opening of the pipe so that there's enough suction to move the debris. Finally, you can try picking up a specialty condensate drain brush from a HVAC supply store to scrub out the most stubborn chunks of mold and algae that cling to the walls of the pipe.

Dirty Air Filter

Sometimes it's an even simpler problem causing your excess moisture. How clean are the air filters in your air conditioning unit? When the filters end up clogged and blocking air flow, it causes frost on the evaporator coils that eventually melts into a massive puddle. Other signs of a clogged air filter include

  • A reduction in the air flow coming out of the registers in each room
  • Rising energy bills
  • Reduced cooling power

Lack of Yard Drainage

Finally, the problem may not lie in the A/C unit at all, but rather in the dirt around the unit. The drain line has to dump that water somewhere, and most A/C installers route the overflow into the ground so it is absorbed before you notice it. If your soil is compacted and rocky, the lack of drainage can lead to a noticeable puddle gathering around the unit. You can install a French drain that connects to the drain line or add a dry well. Both options are easy enough to handle on your own with a shovel.

If none of these tips seem to fix the problem, contact a local air conditioning repair company.