How to fix a leak in the central air-conditioning unit
A leak in a central air conditioner is an annoying incident, but by no means fatal if a reliable air conditioner repair company like ours is nearby! Even if the leak is very small, do not delay the repair and fill out a service request form on the Best Heating Cooling & Air website — we will promptly eliminate whatever malfunctions at any time of the day! Read more.
What can cause leakage?
Even the most perfect equipment treated kindly by a technician sometimes fails; there can be many causes for leaks, and preventing all of them is not in our power. Not to overload you with unnecessary technical details and hard-to-understand terminology, we will focus on the most common causes for leaks in central air conditioners.
- Clogging of the filter, the evaporator coil, and air ducts. The accumulation of debris and dirt impedes the free movement of air and prevents the refrigerant from performing its function, as a result of which the evaporator coil begins to ice up, and the melting of ice leads to a leak. Something like this happens when a refrigerant is missing, or the blower motor fails—excess heat is not absorbed by the refrigerant, and the room becomes stuffy.
- Drain pan damage or misalignment. In split AC systems, pans for collecting condensate are located on the side of the outdoor unit and connected to a drain line; if the pan cracks or shifts, condensate will run out.
- Drain line clogging. Sometimes, the drain line opening becomes clogged with debris and foreign bodies or blocked with mud, causing the drain pan to quickly fill with water that begins to overflow.
What to do in case of a leak?
If you are confident in your repair skills and have the right tools, you can try to fix the leak yourself before calling a technician. It is important to eliminate blockages as soon as possible; otherwise, the compressor may fail, and then you will not get off with minor repairs; if it is impossible to replace the filter immediately, turn off the air conditioner and do not turn it on until you install a new filter.
Replacing the filter is a routine operation that most homeowners can manage on their own, but if the dripping continues after the installation of a new filter, the refrigerant is likely to run out. Refueling the evaporator coil requires skill, so it is better to entrust it to a professional—erroneous actions may lead to serious consequences and unnecessary expenses.
Cracks in the drain pan can be sealed with a waterproof sealant, though this is a temporary solution that allows you to wait for a technician to come but does not eliminate the cause of the leak. If the removable pan located directly under the outdoor unit is leaking, it is best to install a new pan immediately and remove the weight off your shoulders. The built-in drain pan under the evaporator coil is usually firmly fixed, so do not try to replace it yourself—professional equipment will be needed.
If the drain line is clogged, you can try to clean the piping: connect a PVC pipe to the outdoor unit beside the pan at a right angle, and about 200 ml of vinegar poured into the drain line should dissolve dirt and mud. If the air conditioner continues to leak, you will have to roll up your sleeves and vacuum clean the piping using a special adapter to connect the pump.
We do not doubt that you are a responsible owner of air conditioning equipment who will not forget about the scheduled maintenance of air conditioning systems before the start of the season. Nevertheless, when you have an endless list of things to do, some nuances may slip your memory, so just in case, let us remind you what precautions should be taken for a leak not to catch you by surprise:
- It is recommended to replace air filters every 30 to 90 days, and in summer, it wouldn’t be bad to check the filter once more—during peak-load periods, filters clog up faster.
- Air ducts should remain open at all times: even short-term obstructions in the air path can interfere with heat dissipation and cause the evaporator coil to ice up.
- To prevent mud buildup inside the drain lines, treat the pipes with antiseptic and antifungal agents and vacuum clean them from time to time.
Refrigerant leak—a job for professionals
A refrigerant leak is not the case where you can deal with a breakdown on your own since halocarbon products and other hazardous substances are used as refrigerants. Inhalation of Freon vapors causes headaches, nausea, fainting, dizziness, and irritation in the respiratory tract. Safe working with halocarbon products requires special equipment and protective gear that an ordinary user may not have; so do not hesitate and call us at the first sign of a refrigerant leak!
Freon leakage signs: when to call a technician?
Refrigerant leaks are rare; as a rule, they are the result of gross errors in the installation of an air conditioning system, insufficient anti-corrosion protection, and improper sealing of joints. Also, Freon leakage can be a consequence of severe mechanical damage to an AC body, lack of professional maintenance, and natural wear and tear of equipment—air conditioners that have seen 10 or more years of service are more prone to it.
Every homeowner should be aware of the signs of a refrigerant leak, allowing him to call a specialist in time and to have the air conditioner repaired without jeopardizing the health of his loved ones. Refrigerant leakage should be suspected in cases where the evaporator coil ice-up is accompanied by insufficient air cooling and the outdoor unit emitting hissing sounds.
If you doubt you can repair the leak yourself, contact Best Heating Cooling & Air, a NATE-certified contractor. The leading expert in air conditioning systems in Denver and Colorado is always there for you: we come to the rescue the moment you ask for it and provide high-quality service quickly and inexpensively!