One of the most common and recurring problems aircon owners face is the incessant leaking of water from their units. It can even be alarming when you find a puddle forming around your outdoor unit. You may have thought to yourself: is this normal, should I call a technician?
Don’t sweat it just yet! A little bit of water leaking from the aircon is normal. Condensation forms on the evaporator of the AC as a by-product of its operation. However, if the leak is severe, there may be something wrong with your unit.
In this article, we will discuss why your aircon is leaking water, and how to fix it.
Where is the water coming from?
All air conditioners work the same way: a chemical (called a refrigerant) gets converted from liquid to gas and back to liquid again through a set of coils inside the AC – this process absorbs the heat from the air. And the part that is responsible for that is the evaporator.
If the air inside your room is humid, water droplets may condense onto the air conditioner’s evaporator. This eventually collects and meanders down to the drain pan on the outdoor part of your aircon where it will, ideally, evaporate from the heat generated by the compressor and condenser.
Is water leaking from the aircon normal?
As we’ve already established, the dripping water is a by-product of the cooling process. In fact, some models even splash the water on the hot condenser coils to cool them down to save energy.
So, yes, a little bit of water leaking from the aircon is normal – if the leaking is happening outside.
If your aircon is leaking water inside your room, then there is definitely something wrong. It may be because of poor maintenance or a broken or improperly installed part.
In the next section, we will discuss these causes and how to fix them.
Common causes of a leaking aircon and how to fix them
These are the most common reasons of a leaking air conditioner and what to do with them:
1. Broken drain pan
After being constantly wet for years, the air conditioner’s drain pan may eventually corrode and form holes where the water will drip through.
The fix: if the hole is small enough, an elastomeric sealant can do the job. However, if the damage to the drain pan is severe, you may have no other choice but to have the fan replaced.
2. Clogged drain pipe
The drain pipe is a dark and damp place – perfect for algae to grow in. The algae can even grow so much as to block the flow of water in the drain pipe. If the blockage is severe, it may eventually lead to a water leak.
The fix: Call an aircon cleaning service! If you DIY the solution, you may end up pushing whatever is clogging the pipe further down the line.
3. Melting ice from the evaporator
The evaporator is the one making the air cold, hence it is usually the coldest part of the aircon. So cold in fact, that it may lead to ice forming on the coils, eventually being spat out of the aircon. Also, when the ice melts, it could lead to leaking water inside your room.
Ice on the evaporator is not the problem but a symptom caused by the problem. The real problem is a dirty air filter, or the refrigerant may be leaking.
The fix: First, allow the ice to melt naturally (have some rags ready!). Next, solve this problem at its root by cleaning the air filter.
Also, if you suspect a refrigerant leak, call a technician ASAP!
Warning: Don’t try to scrape off the ice on the evaporator coils – this can lead to long-term damage like Freon leaks when you puncture the coils.
4. The aircon is not tilted
Air conditioners are installed with a slight tilt to them to let the condensate flow out to the drain pan. If the slight tilt is absent, the water can flow back inside to your room.
The fix: Take your aircon out of its perch and re-install the outdoor bracket correctly. Most brackets are naturally tilted anyway.
5. Improper installation
Installing a split type air conditioner is a complex process that even experienced technicians can have trouble doing it properly.
It could be an improperly fitted drain cap, or kinks in the drain pipe. Whatever it is, you should have it checked out!
The fix: Call in a technician (preferably not the same one who did a shabby job in the first place) to help you find the faults in the installation of your air conditioner.
Leaking water from your aircon may just be a nuisance at its worst, but it could be an indicator of poor maintenance and faulty installation. Better have it fixed immediately before it complicates in to a bigger problem.
- Oasis Aircon. (n.d.). Why Is Your Aircon Dripping or Leaking Water and How to Fix It. Retrieved January 15, 2021, from https://www.oasis-aircon.com/blog/why-is-your-aircon-dripping-or-leaking-water-and-how-to-fix-it
Miguel Mores worked for 5 years as a member of the product management team for a home appliance company in the Philippines. He started 101appliance to answer the most common customer questions that he has encountered during his time in the industry. He now works in the digital marketing field and manages a small online bookstore on the side.