How Do You Fix a Leaking AC?
TechXpert verified by Ken Kontra
You can fix your leaking AC by cleaning the air filters, replacing the drain pan, or unclogging the condensate drain line in your unit. It’s definitely possible to fix an AC leak yourself, but if you’re unfamiliar with the equipment and the process, you can always contact an HVAC technician to help you repair the leak and prevent future ones.
How to Treat an AC Leak
No need to freak over an AC leak! On the other hand, you don’t want to ignore puddles around your AC unit, since those can mean a repair is needed to prevent water damage and more problems with your AC system. Luckily, there are ways for you to troubleshoot and fix the issue yourself.
Clean Your Filters
A common cause of an AC leak is a dirty air filter. If your filters are dirty or covered in dust and particles, air won’t be able to pass through efficiently, which can lead your evaporator coil to freeze (and thaw).
Most air filters should be replaced once a month, but some can be replaced every two to three months. Either way, it’s important to check up on the condition of your air filters, keeping them clean and clear so your AC can do its job.
Check Your Drain Pan
Your AC’s condensate drain pan is located under the evaporator coil and collects the condensate produced by the system. It’s possible your drain pan and lines are damaged, so you’ll want to inspect these parts for cracks or holes that may be causing your AC to leak.
You might be able to fix the cracks in your drain pan with a strong, water-resistant glue. However, rather than relying on a temporary fix, it’s smart to replace the drain pan altogether. If your drain pan is overflowing, you’ll want to clean up the water and any other residue and look for any clogs.
Check Your Condensate Drain Line
Aside from cleaning your AC air filters and fixing a damaged drain pan, check out your condensate drain line to make sure it’s not blocked. Unclogging your condensate drain line can be a hassle, but it’s an important step in your maintenance routine.
If you’re tackling a clogged condensate drain line yourself, you can begin by removing the PVC cap and using a long, sturdy wire brush to clean out the line. Next, you’ll want to carefully pour a cup of chlorine bleach down the drain to clean your line of any remaining mold, mildew, or other contaminants.
Flush the trap with clean, cool water to prevent chlorine odors from being introduced back into the air. Once this is complete, pop on the PVC cap and turn on your AC. BUT, if your system has a small condensate pump next to the unit on the floor, avoid using chlorine bleach — instead use vinegar. The bleach will attack the plastic components of the condensate pump, and they’ll break.
How to Prevent Future Leaks
The best way to prevent your AC from leaking again is commiting to regular maintenance. Be sure to clean the parts that get clogged with dust, mold, and debris particles. Clean your air filters and replace them once every one to three months. Check for damaged or clogged drain lines to see if they need a repair or replacement. If you make it a habit now, you’ll thank yourself later!
If you want to prevent your condensate drain line from clogging, remember to clear it every four to six years –– and if you’re feeling extra motivated to keep your condensation drain line clean, pour a cup of chlorine bleach down the line every six to 12 months. Just like checking your condensate drain line, flush the trap with clean, cool water to keep the chlorine odor at bay.
And again, if your system has a small condensate pump next to the unit on the floor, use vinegar instead of bleach to protect the plastic components of the condensate pump.
Not Inclined to DIY?
If you’re unfamiliar with your AC equipment and not really sure how to keep it clean, you can always contact an HVAC professional to help you fix the cause of the leak and give your system a close look and a tune-up to keep it running properly when you need it most.
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