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Leaky air conditioners can be messy, frustrating, and dangerous. If too much water spills from the air conditioner, it can cause slipping hazards. Your A/C shouldn’t spill, spit, or blow water, so let’s get to the root cause.
Your air conditioner is spitting and blowing water for the following reasons:
- Leaky refrigerant fluid
- Dirty filters
- Broken fans
- Improper mounting installation
- Drain clogs
- Drain cracks
- Frozen air conditioner coils
- Poor insulation
In this post, we’ll take you through all of the potential causes of your water-spitting air conditioner and what you can do about them. Good luck!
The refrigerant in your air conditioner is added to cool the air. Without enough refrigerant, most air conditioners won’t do anything. However, old age, wear and tear, and various other factors can cause leaks that drip the refrigerant fluid.
Homeowners often mistake refrigerant for water since it’s typically clear. The best way to know if it’s water is if it puddles for a long time. Refrigerant fluid quickly turns into a gas, making it a bit more dangerous.
You should fix a refrigerant leak on your air conditioner as soon as possible. Follow our method below for the best solution.
How to Fix
Air conditioner refrigerant is acidic, causing the metal to erode and leak over time. Here’s what you can do about it:
- Turn off the power going to the air conditioner to avoid electric hazards.
- Drain the refrigerant by siphoning it out with a clear plastic hose.
- Locate the leak (it should look like a crack, corrosion, or rusted spot).
- Remove the leaky portion of the air conditioner, such as the refrigerant tank.
- Contact your air conditioner’s manufacturer or find a parts guide to know which refrigerant pan you need for your make and model.
- Screw in the new refrigerant tank into your air conditioner, then refill it with the fluid recommended by the manufacturer.
- Turn on the unit and look for leaks and ensure the air is cold coming from the vents.
The Air Filter Is Dirty
According to GE Appliances, a dirty or broken air filter can cause water to leak out of an air conditioner. When the filter is clogged from pollutants and particles in the air, condensation builds up inside of the AC. Water leaking from a dirty air filter should never be ignored.
Another way to know if your air filter is the cause of your leaking air conditioner is to put your hand in front of the vents. If the air pressure feels lower than normal, check the filter and perform the necessary steps to find the solution.
How to Fix
Dirty air filters are likely the simplest and quickest way to fix a water-leaking air conditioner. Follow the step-by-step process below.
- Turn off your air conditioner to prevent the airflow from suctioning the filter.
- Remove the filter from the biggest vent in the house (it’s the one that air goes into rather than out of).
- If you have a reusable filter, all you have to do is spray it with a low-pressure garden hose, let it dry, and put it back into the vent.
- If you have a single-use air conditioner filter (they typically last up to six months), you’ll have to toss it and get a new one with the same dimensions.
- Insert the new filter, ensuring the arrows are facing the correct direction for the airflow.
When you’re done, turn on the air conditioner, clean the water from the floor, then check if it leaks.
Broken Blower Fan
The blower fan pushes the cool air throughout the building. It’s supposed to move the air once the refrigerant does its job, but if it’s broken, nothing will move. The result is a refrigerant or condensation leak, sending pools of water around the outside of the air conditioner. Unfortunately, it’s often confused with a leak in the line since the symptoms are similar.
If you think the blower fan is the culprit, listen to the vents or right next to the air conditioner. There should be an audible fan sound swooshing the air around the house. If there isn’t and the air conditioner is on (assuming the temperature isn’t at the set degrees), it’s time to take a look at the blower fan.
How to Fix
Here’s the process to replace a broken blower fan’s motor in your air conditioner:
- Turn off the breaker going to the air conditioner.
- Unscrew the faceplate from the air conditioner to reveal the blower fan, then unhook it from its wires to free it.
- Use a wrench to loosen the bolt enclosing the fan to open the outer case.
- Tie the motor wires together, so you don’t lose track of them, then clip them as close to the old motor as possible.
- Use a drill to remove the bolts holding the motor to the blower.
- Mount the new blower motor in its place, then use butt splices or wire caps to connect each wire from the air conditioner (from step four) to the wires on the new motor.
- Place the blower back into the air conditioner, reconnect it to the control board, then seal the faceplate.
Word of Advice TV provides a handy video tutorial here:
Tilted Air Conditioner Issues
A tilted air conditioner typically happens for one of two reasons:
- The air conditioner wasn’t installed properly. It’s never a good idea to mount the AC without a level, but some companies will eyeball it. Check their work with a leveling tool to make sure it’s completely flat.
- The house settled, causing the air conditioner to shift. A minor tilt is enough to cause condensation and water to drip out of an air conditioner slowly. It can also cause many other issues, including wiring mishaps, cracked pipes, and refrigerant leaks.
If you think your air conditioner isn’t level, all you have to do is use a handheld leveler. Try our solution below if it needs to be fixed.
How to Fix
Unfortunately, the only way to fix a tilted air conditioner is to hire a professional to unhook it, level the concrete beneath it, and reinstall the unit. It can be an expensive process, so it’s important to know if it’s the primary cause of the water leak; Otherwise, you might end up having to repair other parts of the AC.
The quickest way to know if the air conditioner is tilted is to look for puddled water in an area near an edge since it should pool in the center. You could also use a leveler to inspect the tilted angle. Always contact a professional for a quote and to ensure there’s a misalignment before having it repaired.
Clogged Drainage System
Air conditioners combine internal cooling with an inevitably warmer external temperature. This recipe creates condensation. Thankfully, all air conditioners include a drainage system that catches the excess water. Airco explains excess water can leak out of the drainage pipe if there’s a clog from dust, debris, and so on.
Clogs, chips, cracks, and many other problems can lead to a drippy drain system and condensate drain. The good news is that these are two of the simplest issues to deal with. Sometimes, you don’t have to spend any money or hire a professional to clear the clog and get your air conditioner back to its original condition.
How to Fix
The only thing you can do when a drainage system is clogged or broken is to replace it. You have to locate the crack and seal or repair it. Much like removing and adjusting an air conditioner, it’s always better to call a professional. They’ll be able to provide a warranty and repair any mistakes they make.
Another reason you should hire a pro is that some homeowner’s insurance policies void warranties if the work isn’t done by an expert. Doing it yourself might save some money, but it can cost you a lot more if something goes wrong.
If you’re determined to repair the crack, we recommend using epoxy. J.B. Weld Epoxy Putty is a two-part epoxy that blends together to create a strong seal. It’s an excellent temporary fix to lengthen the time until you have to hire someone to fix the pipe.
Drain Pan Cracks
An air conditioner’s drain pan sits under the condensate pipe. Its sole purpose is to collect the dripping water. Any holes or fractures in the pan will cause excess water to spill onto the floor. This issue typically occurs if the pan isn’t manually emptied or when the pan rusts and corrodes.
Another probable cause is if you chose an incorrect drain pan size. The pan’s dimensions are crucial. If the pan is too big or small, the water will drip past the pan or overfill it. Before you get a new pan, check the air conditioner’s owner’s manual to find the correct measurements.
How to Fix
Here’s what you need to do if the air conditioner’s drain pan is cracked or misaligned:
- Turn off the power going to the AC unit.
- Unscrew the faceplate on the air conditioner to expose the drain pan.
- Realign the drain pan if necessary; If not, unscrew it and remove it from the air conditioner.
- Add the new drip pan, ensuring it’s suitable for your AC’s make and model.
- Remove excess water and condensation from underneath the pan if it stained the unit.
Drip pans are relatively easy to replace as long as you don’t put them in the wrong direction. If it’s slightly tilted, the condensation will pool in the pan and make a mess.
Air conditioners have coils that are designed to push the hot air out of the system. They’re quite useful during the warm summer months. If these coils are frozen, they won’t be able to stop the heat from getting in. The refrigerant freezes on the coils when there’s not enough airflow or the air filter is dirty and clogged.
When the coils heat up from the external heat, they drip water all over the place. Check the coils to ensure they are never frozen. Anything that promotes or limits the airflow through the house can cause the coils to freeze.
How to Fix
Most of the time, the coils are frozen due to a blockage or broken piece. Follow these tips:
- Check if the air filter needs to be cleaned or replaced.
- Look for cracks in the pipes going to and from the air conditioner outside of the house.
- Add coolant to the system to regulate the temperature.
- Fix the blower fan if the motor isn’t working properly since the coolant won’t move without it.
- If all else fails, replace the coils with ones provided by the manufacturer.
You might’ve noticed the foam insulation surrounding some of the air conditioner’s pipes. This insulation is quite common in places prone to extreme temperatures. If there’s not enough insulation, the coils, fans, pipes, and many other components can freeze. They also might overheat and overfill the condensation pan.
Most building codes require a specific type of pipe or insulation, depending on the climate. Hunker claims improper insulation is often enough to make an air conditioner drip water throughout the year. The outdoor pipes are the most important ones to insulate since they’re exposed to the outside temperature.
How to Fix
Give these suggestions a try if you want to insulate the air conditioner:
- Use PVC pipe insulation on all of the pipes around the air conditioner outside. Try the M-D Building Products 1-Inch Insulation. It provides protection from extreme heat and frost, limiting the condensation coming from the air conditioner. It also stops water from pooling outside.
- Install a thermostat and hygrometer in your garage (or wherever the AC sits). These tools will monitor and adjust the temperature and humidity. If either of them strays too far, the insulation will fail, and water will pour from the air conditioner.