Air conditioner maintenance | Water leaks

I have been a service technician with Watkins Heating & Cooling for over 10 years now. Every spring I have a routine to prepare myself and my service truck for the up-coming air conditioning season. I take a look at the previous season to determine the most common issues I found on service calls. At the top of the list is always “lack of maintenance.” Now some of you may be reading this and wondering how that’s possible since you always have your entire system serviced twice a year, and your calendar is marked for the exact days to replace your filters and thermostat batteries. While I applaud your dedication and I hope to see you soon for your annual spring air conditioner maintenance visit, I’m writing this series for the many people who ignore their air conditioner until it stops working.

The first topic I’ll be addressing is air conditioner water leaks. It seems to me that nearly half of my appointments involve water on a customer’s floor. The most common cause of a water leak in the summer time is a clogged condensation drain. Here’s how it works: your air conditioner is like a very large dehumidifier. Whenever it’s running, it is drawing moisture out of the air in your home. This could be anywhere between 1 pint to 1 gallon per hour. The amount of water can vary depending on the size of your system, the indoor humidity, and how efficiently the air conditioner is running. This moisture (we call it condensation) has to go somewhere. If the pipe leading to the drain clogs, you will have a BIG mess to clean up, and possibly expensive property damage!

An important part of a good air conditioner tune up is checking your condensate drain & cleaning it if necessary. Annual maintenance on you air conditioner system is definitely cheaper than the expense of water damage restoration! Before you have a company come out to service your air conditioner, ask them if they include condensate drain cleaning in their tune up price.

Sometimes, even when the drain is cleaned annually, you can still have water problems. That’s why I recommend “Water Sensing Safety Switches” and “Drain Over-Flow Protection Switches.” These two devices sense a clogged drain or frozen coil and shut down your air conditioner before it has a chance to make a mess. These are especially needed when your air conditioner is in the attic or second floor utility room where a leak would cause drastic property damage.

Another recommendation is the installation of a good air cleaner such as the Aprilaire 2400. Air conditioner drains can clog due to airborne dust that gets drawn into the indoor coil leading to algae growth in the coil drain pan. Catching dust before it hits the air conditioner coil can minimize this problem. For pricing on our air conditioner maintenance plan or on the installation of an Aprilaire 2400 air cleaner, check out our service pricing page.

In my next air conditioner maintenance blog, I will discuss outdoor coils (condensers). Stay tuned!

David Watkins

David Watkins

As a third generation HVAC professional, David Watkins grew up around all things heating and air conditioning. He is an expert in airflow and duct design and he leverages his math and science background to lead an HVAC team well-known for their technical capabilities.