How to Fix a Leaking Air Conditioner
LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Quinn calling in from Battle Creek, Michigan who, as Tom likes to say, is battling an air conditioning unit that’s gone awry. (Tom chuckles)
Quinn, what’s going on?
QUINN: Well, let’s see. I have a house and it has central air and – well, there’s a line, a hose that goes from the air conditioning unit and it runs down along the bottom of the floor and runs down to the drain in the floor.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. That would be the condensate line. Correct.
QUINN: OK. All of the manuals that I have for this don’t have very good diagrams about this part of the unit.
QUINN: You know, I’ve got electrical diagrams and such but …
TOM: No, you normally wouldn’t have a diagram for that.
QUINN: So basically, what happens is if I run the A/C hard, on one of the summer – you know, hot days of summer for a week, let’s say, it must build up enough water where it just – it basically just about floods that part right around the furnace.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Right.
QUINN: Because it just fills it with water and I’m assuming it’s …
TOM: OK. So listen, the hose that comes down, is it running somewhere where it can drain or are you telling me that it leaks out before it gets that far?
QUINN: I think it leaks out before it gets that far.
QUINN: Either the plug – either it’s plugged where that hose comes out or there’s a drain pan or something. I don’t know about inside …
TOM: Alright. So here’s what happens. Sometimes, inside the air conditioning air handler itself, where the evaporator coil is, you get dust, dirt or sometimes even labels that come off the equipment and sort of float on down and will partially cover the hole where the condensate line comes out.
So, what you need to do is take the condensate line apart and stick a flashlight in there and see what’s in the way. There’s probably something clogging that particular area and so the water is not rising to go down that hose.
The water has got to, you know, get up high enough and be unblocked so it goes down the hole and runs off. I mean, what you’re explaining here is just a normal operation of the air conditioning system. On a hot, humid day, you have more moisture in the air. You lower the air temperature and that moisture turns to condensate; the condensate collects and has to run off. If the plumbing system that’s designed to do that is blocked, then it’s going to overflow the furnace and get water all over the floor.