90% of US households use air conditioning. That is an increase of more than 23% of households since 2001. Perhaps surprisingly, though, is the fact that California is among the states that use air conditioning units the least.
You may not have ever lived in a home with an AC unit before. So, you probably do not know what to do when your air conditioner is leaking. That is why we created this guide.
A leaky AC unit can be messy. But if your AC is leaking refrigerant and not water, this can also become an issue for the environment, as well as your health, your family’s health, and your pets’ health.
What are the top reasons your AC unit could be leaking, and what can you do about it? We are answering these two questions and more in this guide, so keep reading for everything you need to know.
1. Damaged or Frozen Coils
AC units have parts called evaporator and condenser coils. Coils are typically made of heat-conducting metal (aluminum, copper, or steel). But when they get damaged or freeze in the cold, they can cause leakage.
Evaporator coils are located by the blower fan inside the AC unit in your home. The condenser coil is in the condenser unit outside your home. The job of both coils is to cool hot air inside your home via interactions with refrigerant.
If either type of coil stops working, it can no longer cool the refrigerant in your AC unit. This can, in turn, lead to leaks. You can recognize a refrigerant leak by the presence of pools of oily liquid, hissing sounds, and/or soap bubbles.
2. A Clogged Drain Line
An AC unit’s drain line carries away condensation that forms on evaporator coils as they cool the refrigerant. But when this drain line gets clogged or damaged, it can not properly get rid of this excess water, leading to leaks.
Even if the drain line is not clogged or damaged, it could have been installed incorrectly. Incorrect installment often causes the drain line to loosen with time, causing it to get disconnected. Then, the water leaks everywhere.
Another scenario occurs when the drain line works properly, but the AC pan is leaking. The AC pan is also known as the drain overflow pan, and it collects the water that the drain line gets rid of. But when the drain pan gets cracked or damaged, it can cause water leaks.
3. Clogged AC Filters
Did you know that you should change your AC filter every 90 days? Some air filters need changing even more often. And if you do not change your AC filters often enough, it can lead to frozen coils.
But how could a dirty air filter cause your evaporator coils to freeze? Air filters help remove large particles of dust and dirt from the air. As these particles build up, they can clog the unit, forcing the air conditioner to work harder.
Overworking your AC unit often forces coils to freeze over. As we’ve mentioned, frozen coils can cause potentially dangerous refrigerant leaks. Or as the ice melts on the coil, it can also lead to an overflowing drain pan.
4. A Dirty Condenser or Evaporator
An AC unit’s evaporator helps to take up hot air from around your home. And the unit’s condenser removes that hot air and spits it out outside your home. But when either of these parts gets dirty, it can not do its job properly.
As you may recall, condensers are the part of your AC system that sits outside your home. And when it becomes coated in grime and dust, it may start to leak refrigerant, which can be dangerous for your outdoor plants and pets.
Corrosion is a common problem that occurs to evaporators, especially if you do not clean your evaporator often. The corrosion can lead to a whole host of problems, including water and even refrigerant leakage.
5. Low Refrigerant
Refrigerant is a type of fluid that can absorb heat from the surrounding air. We use this chemical inside vehicles to cool down engines. And when combined with condensers and evaporators, refrigerants can also help cool your home.
But when refrigerant levels get too low, this can lead to the first problem we talked about in this article: frozen coils. The coils must work harder to cool the lower levels of refrigerant, leading them to get too cold.
When coils freeze, this could lead to multiple issues. Your refrigerant itself could start to leak from the unit. Or you could end up with water leaks as the frozen condensation on the AC coils melts and overflows the AC pan.
Signs Your Air Conditioner Is Leaking
So, how exactly do you know if your AC unit is leaking? Look for the following signs of a water or refrigerant leak:
- Higher than usual electric bills
- Longer than usual cooling cycles
- Hissing noises are coming from your unit
- Soap bubbles, especially in or around the AC coils
- The AC fan blows, but no cool air comes out
Of course, the easiest way to spot a leaking AC unit is to look for pools of moisture. If you see pools of water or refrigerant around your AC unit, it’s time to call a heating and cooling maintenance company.
Searching for ‘AC Repair Near Me’?
The most common reasons why your air conditioner is leaking include frozen, damaged, or dirty coils; a clogged or damaged drain line or drain pan; low refrigerant; and clogged AC filters.
Are you looking for AC companies in Petaluma, CA? Milano Mechanical is here for you. Call us today for an AC repair free estimate and get your leak fixed once and for all!