5 Common Reasons an Air Conditioner Leaks Water

Why Is My Air Conditioner Leaking Water?

It’s your worst nightmare: you wake up soaked in sweat on a hot summer morning. You crank the air conditioner, and notice water is leaking a lot of water. If you fail to take action, you might wind up having to park in front of a fan while an HVAC specialist installs a new air conditioner

Avoid this disaster scenario! Act immediately and perform a quick inspection—you may be able to identify the problem on your own and avoid a major disaster. If your air conditioner is leaking in or outside the house or in your apartment, the problem most likely stems from at least one of the following issues:

  1. Clogged drain line. The most common source of leaks in home air conditioners.
  2. Cracked overflow pan. Check the overflow pan for notches, holes and cracks.
  3. Dirty air filter. Impeded air flow invites a host of problems, including leaking water.
  4. Improper installation. Poor installation is a common reason for a leaking AC.
  5. Broken pump. A bad pump won't draw out water from the overflow pan, and it will leak.

Read on for more details on why your air conditioner is dripping water.


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1.  The Drain Line is Clogged

Broken Air ConditionerDon't let your air conditioner become broken beyond repair.

A clogged drain line is the most common source of leaks in home air conditioners. When the drain line is stopped up, water cannot drain from the overflow pan and out through the drainpipe (or outside, depending on your A/C’s setup). This can be especially problematic in window ACs tilted in the wrong direction. If water's leaking from the front, you know your AC unit wasn't installed properly.

Check the tubing for dirt and debris. If you feel resistance, clear the blockage. Water is then free to flow into the drainpipe and out the bottom as it's supposed to.

Many modern A/C units have an emergency shutoff function to protect the device from damage if a clog is detected in the drain line. While this feature is helpful and prevents water damage, it can be puzzling for an owner when their A/C unit shuts down out of the blue. If your A/C suddenly turns off, a clogged drain line could be initiating the shutdown.

You can prevent a clog by occasionally pouring a cup of bleach into the drain line from the inside of the unit. If a clog has already occurred, you can use a wet/dry vacuum to suck the clog out.

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2.  Drain Overflow Pan Cracked or Damaged

While you’re checking the drain line, you may as well inspect the drain overflow pan underneath the unit as well. Carefully inspect each corner and along the edge for cracks, notches, or holes. Anything allowing water to spill out onto the floor before it gets to the drain hose is an issue.

Small holes can be repaired with epoxy, but, replacing the drain pan entirely is the best way to fix this problem.

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3.  The Air Filter is Dirty

Your A/C unit’s air filter needs to be changed on a regular basis. If you leave the filter in too long, the filter gets dirty and air flow is impeded.

The air around the evaporator coils gets too cold, and the coils freeze up, actually forming ice in and on the unit. When the ice melts, water drips, and you get a leak. A dirty filter isn't the only reason your AC might be freezing up. Check out more possible explanations for why your AC is frozen.

Most filters are meant to last one to two months. To be sure you prevent leaks, check the filters more frequently, especially when the unit is in heavy use. Simply changing the filter regularly can prevent a lot of problems and make your A/C run more efficiently.

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4.  Improper Installation

A central A/C unit may start leaking water outside if it is not level. Water will pool up unevenly in the overflow pan and drip over the side. Ensure your air conditioner is on a flat surface and absolutely level. If it’s not perfectly flat, you should adjust the concrete pad it sits on to level it out.

For a window air conditioner, you want the front of the unit to be tipped up slightly so the water drains out the back and outside. If the unit is too flat, water may flow the wrong way and spill into your house.

Water may also leak if the seals securing the unit to the window are not tight. The moisture from the warm air meeting the cold air in the air conditioner condenses, resulting in a condensation leak.

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Air Conditioning Unit Waukesha A broken air conditioner is the worst case scenario on a hot July afternoon.

5.  Broken Pump

If the pump is broken, no water will be drawn from the overflow pan. The pan will fill until it begins dripping onto the floor. You can test the pump by pouring some water into the pan. If nothing happens, and you know the drain line isn’t clogged, the pump must be broken. At this point, call us at Hot Point—our service technicians will help you replace the pump.

If you’ve tried everything and still cannot stop your air conditioner from leaking or it will not turn back on, you should contact Hot Point Heating and Air Conditioning. Our expert HVAC technicians will get your unit up and running leak-free quickly so you can enjoy the summer. If it's a total loss, we can even install a brand new A/C unit the same day!


Still stuck? Call us for repairs now!


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Regular Maintenance Preserves Your A/C Unit

Absolutely nobody wants to have to deal with a broken air conditioner. We understand hiring an HVAC technician is not in your best interests. Do everything you can to avoid emergency repairs and costly replacement of whole A/C units. In many cases, you may not have a choice in the matter. However, there are a few simple routine maintenance tactics you can use to keep your A/C running at its best

Think something else might be wrong with your air conditioner? Come check out our article on 7 Common AC Problems to learn about the most common A/C problems people have and how to fix them. Of course, if your air conditioner breaks down completely, you know who to call. The HVAC pros at Hot Point get your cooling system back up and running at the lowest cost in Southeastern Wisconsin. 

Contact Oconomowoc air conditioning repair technicians at Hot Point for a quote on fixing your A/C unit.