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Why Is My Air Conditioning System Dripping Water?

No matter what type of air conditioning system you have on your home—split system, packaged system or window units—they all work in a similar fashion and will produce water. The water they produce is condensation, and this is normal. The condensation is created from the following operations:

  1. When the air conditioner is turned on, it starts to pull the warm humid air out of your home and over the cooling coils.
  2. The cooling coils are colder because they are filled with some type of refrigerant that is circulating through the coils.
  3. The water vapor in the warm humid air starts to condense on the cooling coils.
  4. As more water condenses, it will eventually start dripping off the coiling coils into a drain pan.
  5. As the drain pain starts to get full, the water slowly drains away down a connected drain pipe.

Depending on the type of AC system you have installed, it will determine how the drain pipe is connected. On split systems and packaged systems, where the AC cooling coils are outdoors, the drain pipe is normally attached to the unit and drains directly into the ground away from the unit.

Air Conditioner system next to a home

For indoor AC systems, the drain pipe could be connected to one of your plumbing drain lines. For window units, the drain pipe normally is in a location on the back of the unit farthest from the home, and it drips out of the unit onto the ground.

When Water Dripping from Your Air Conditioning System Is Not Normal

There are a few different cases where water dripping from the AC system is not considered part of its normal operations. If you notice an excessive amount of water on the base of your outdoor unit or have noticed water backing up inside the home near the indoor part of your split AC system, it could be the result of one or more of the following:

  • Clogged Drain Line: If the drain line gets clogged with dirt and debris, the drain pan will overflow.
  • Rusted or Damaged Drain Pan: On older units, the drain pans were made of metal and can rust, allowing the water to flow out of the pan, not down the drain line. On newer units, the pans are made of plastic but could still get damaged from normal wear and tear.

technician inspects an ac unit

  • Dirty Coiling Coils Vents: If the vents on your outdoor unit are full of dust and dirt, the cooling coils can freeze up and lead to excess water. When they thaw, it can cause the drain pan to overflow.
  • Broken or Disconnected Drain Line: If the drain line is broken or becomes disconnected from the drain pan, the water will not drain correctly.
  • Refrigerant Level Is Low: If your AC system is low on refrigerant, it, too, will cause the cooling coils to freeze up.
  • Condensation Pump Broken: Some units have a condensation pump that pumps the water out of the drain pan and into the drain line. If the pump breaks, then the pan can overflow.

In order to determine the exact cause of abnormal water dripping, it is best to call a professional for air conditioning repair service.

The best way to avoid unexpected AC repair calls is by having your AC system inspected, tested, and tuned up before the hot Texas summer arrives. Call the cooling experts at your nearest Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing location in San Antonia, Temple, New Braunfels, or Austin Metro today to schedule AC maintenance!

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