For many of us, life without air conditioning can be hell, especially during the hot summer months. This is, therefore, a luxury we wouldn’t want to live without. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of homeowners understand the inner workings of HVAC systems. This lack of understanding makes it particularly scary when their AC units start malfunctioning. Although a dripping noise should raise your suspicion, it’s not always an indication of imminent danger or the need for air conditioning repair services. Here’s what you need to know:
The water in your ac unit
Unless you understand how water forms and works inside your AC, you probably won’t be able to find out why your unit is making a dripping noise. Your AC unit draws warm air from the house through return ducts and blows this air over the evaporator coil, which contains refrigerant in copper tubes. As the circulating liquid absorbs heat from the warm indoor air, condensation forms on the coil in the same way water droplets form on cold glass surfaces during hot days. As moisture collects on the coil, it will run down and drip into a drain pan. This water should then flow through a condensate line that drains it out of the house. For the most part, your AC unit should be able to drain this water properly.
When you have a problem
You should not hear any splashing or dripping sounds coming from your AC unless it’s been working overtime. Here’s a detailed look at some of the possible reasons why your air conditioner is making a dripping noise:
1. A clogged condensate drain line
In AC units, a worn out, dirty, or clogged condensate drain line is perhaps the most common cause of dripping water. Dust, dirt, sludge and mold can cause the drain line to clog, in which case the water that’s supposed to drain from your AC will back up and leak into your home. Depending on the underlying cause, you can fix this problem by unclogging, repairing, or replacing the drain. While there are many applicable techniques for unclogging, the use of compressed air might prove most helpful. The average homeowner should be able to handle an easily accessible drain, but clear identification of the drain line is required. As such, calling in a professional AC repair remains the surest solution.
Note: Different AC models will deal with condensate in different ways. You should, therefore, find out how your specific model works before you make any conclusions.
2. A faulty drip pan
Dripping sounds can signify a faulty drip pan, especially if you have an AC unit that’s around 12-15 years old. Damaged or rusted drip pans can allow water to fall right through and may need replacing. Alternatively, the drip pan might not be level, causing it to start leaking before it can be drained. In this case, you probably won’t have to call in a professional air conditioning repair service provider.
3. Improper installation
The problem could be that the AC unit isn’t properly installed. Drain lines need to be installed correctly for optimal performance and are likely to cause a dripping problem if not. Improperly installed drain lines can be the reason your drip pan is not draining as it should and once the drip pan fills up, the overflow might cause water damage. If you can identify the drain line, follow it outside to find out whether it’s working as it should. Poor installation can also lead to mechanical issues, which can cause increased water leakage and other more serious problems.
4. High water feed rate
If you don’t have a faulty drip pan or condensate drain line, then unnecessarily high water feed rates might be the culprit. This is the quantity of water that goes into the AC unit and helps ensure proper function.
5. A broken condensate pump
If you have an indoor unit installed in the basement, it should feature a condensate pump that uses pressure to force water out. Water cannot be pumped outside if the pump is broken. So, if this is the case, you will need to have the pump repaired or replaced.
6. A dirty air filter
Ice usually forms on the cooling coil when it gets too cold, which can be caused by a dirty air filter that prevents air from flowing over the evaporator coil. When the ice melts, it can cause the drip pan to overflow. Too much leakage increases the risk of water damage, so check the state of your air filter and replace it if necessary.
7. Low refrigerant level
Like a dirty air filter, low refrigerant levels can decrease pressure in your AC unit, which could then cause the evaporator coil to freeze. Unfortunately, the drain pan might overflow when the ice melts. You might be low on refrigerant if:
• Your AC is not cooling properly
• You hear a bubbling or hissing noise, a common indication of refrigerant leaks.
Depending on the leak’s severity, you’ll need to either repair or replace the entire unit. Some of these problems can be a lot harder to diagnose and address. If you are unable to do either, calling in a professional might be the best option.