Air Conditioner Problems, and Prevent AC Condensation leaking into your Property, Water damage in Cherry Hill, NJ
One of the most common air conditioning problems is improper operation. If your air conditioner is on, be sure to close your home's windows and outside doors. For room air conditioners, isolate the room or a group of connected rooms as much as possible from the rest of your home. For a list of common air conditioner problems and what to look for, check out our Energy Saver 101 infographic on home cooling.
Other common problems with existing air conditioners result from faulty installation, poor service procedures, and inadequate maintenance. Improper installation of a central air conditioner can result in leaky ducts and low airflow. Many times, the refrigerant charge (the amount of refrigerant in the system) does not match the manufacturer's specifications. If proper refrigerant charging is not performed during installation, the performance and efficiency of the unit is impaired. Unqualified service technicians often fail to find refrigerant charging problems or even worsen existing problems by adding refrigerant to a system that is already full. Learn what to ask for when hiring a technician to maintain your air conditioner.
Air conditioner manufacturers generally make rugged, high quality products. If your air conditioner fails, begin by checking any fuses or circuit breakers. Let the unit cool down for about five minutes before resetting any breakers. If a central air conditioner's compressor stops on a hot day, the high-pressure limit switch may have tripped; reset it by pushing the button, located in the compressor's access panel.
If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, either it was undercharged at installation or it leaks. If it leaks, simply adding refrigerant is not a solution. A trained technician should fix any leak, test the repair, and then charge the system with the correct amount of refrigerant. Remember that the performance and efficiency of your air conditioner is greatest when the refrigerant charge exactly matches the manufacturer's specification, and is neither undercharged nor overcharged. Refrigerant leaks can also be harmful to the environment
If you allow filters and air conditioning coils to become dirty, the air conditioner will not work properly, and the compressor or fans are likely to fail prematurely.
ELECTRIC CONTROL FAILURE
The compressor and fan controls can wear out, especially when the air conditioner turns on and off frequently, as is common when a system is oversized. Because corrosion of wire and terminals is also a problem in many systems, electrical connections and contacts should be checked during a professional service call.
Room air conditioners feature a thermostat sensor, located behind the control panel, which measures the temperature of air coming into the evaporative coil. If the sensor is knocked out of position, the air conditioner could cycle constantly or behave erratically. The sensor should be near the coil but not touching it; adjust its position by carefully bending the wire that holds it in place.
When it's humid outside, check the condensate drain to make sure it isn't clogged and is draining properly. Room air conditioners may not drain properly if not mounted level.
Common Causes of AC Water Leakage
The following issues can cause water leaks in your central AC system:
Clogged Drain Line
A clogged condensate drain pipe can make your AC system’s drain pan overflow. This is probably the most frequent cause of water leakage from a central AC system, bringing many service calls to HVAC professionals as summer temperatures rise. Drain lines can become clogged with dirt, rust, algae and other debris.
Disconnected Drain Line
When AC systems are improperly installed drain pipe fittings may not be secure. Over time, they can loosen, causing the drain pipe to disconnect from the AC unit and allowing the condensate to drain through the ceiling or onto the floor. As with a clogged drain line, the location of the leak will depend on whether the primary or secondary drain pipe is the one affected and whether your central AC system is located in the attic or in your house.
Condensate Pump Problems
A malfunctioning or dirty condensate pump can also cause water leakage from your AC system, flooding your attic or basement. Due to the continual presence of water, mold and mildew can grow inside the unit, causing it to clog.
Other Potential Causes of AC Water Leakage
Water leaks can also be caused by the following issues:
- Clogged air filter
- Low refrigerant
- Cracked condensate drain pan
- No p-trap and air vent in the drain line to prevent water backup
- Condensate buildup in un-insulated ductwork
The first two issues in the list above can contribute to a frozen evaporator coil, which creates its own set of water leakage problems.
Ways to Avoid Damage from Water Leakage
Follow these tips to reduce the likelihood of water leakage issues:
- Make sure your central AC system has a secondary drain line — especially if your air handler is in the attic.
- Install a drain pan overflow shutoff switch, equipped with a float.
- Add a safety pan under your AC unit to catch drain pan overflow.
- Clean or change your HVAC air filter regularly.
- Make sure your ductwork is properly insulated.
- Have your AC refrigerant levels checked regularly.
- Make sure each drain line contains a p-trap and air vent.
- Keep your condensate pump free from mold and mildew by flushing it with a 50% bleach/water solution.
- Schedule annual HVAC maintenance to maximize performance and minimize furnace and AC repairs.