Updated On

April 19, 2024

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    Have you recently seen water leaking from your air conditioner and wondered if it is dangerous? You are not alone. 

    Many homeowners are concerned when they see water leaking from their air conditioner. So, we put together some information for you. 

    • What causes an air conditioner to leak? 
    • Are there things you can do to prevent your air conditioner from leaking?
    • Can an air conditioner leak cause other problems? 
    • When should you seek professional help for a water leak from your air conditioner? 
    • And more!

    If you’re interested in finding local HVAC technicians, you can fill out this short form:

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    What Are The Most Common Causes Of AC Leaks? 

    While all ACs ‘leak’ some water, there are certain conditions that cause your air conditioner to leak more. Here are the most common causes of AC leaks. 

    Dirty Air Filter

    Your air conditioner needs to be able to pull air into the air handler. When you have a clogged air filter installed in your HVAC system, it can restrict the flow of warm air, causing a frozen evaporator coil. 

    When the evaporator coil freezes and thaws, it will leak more water than your condensate pan can accommodate. 

    Low Refrigerant

    Refrigerant levels need to be just right for your unit to operate efficiently. When your system has low freon levels, it can cause the evaporator coil to freeze. 

    You can usually tell that your unit is low on freon because you will find ice on the indoor unit and the line connecting the outdoor unit to your home. If you have a refrigerant leak, you will need to have a licensed AC repair contractor fix it

    Disconnected Or Clogged Condensate Drain 

    All air conditioners create condensation as the evaporator coil cools the air pulled into the air handler. Your air conditioning system has a condensate pan and an evaporator coil that catches water. 

    When the condensate drain line gets clogged, the drip pan can leak water. It will also leak if the condensate drain pipe gets disconnected from the AC unit. 

    Related: Is Your Air Conditioner Not Draining Water?

    Broken Condensate Pump

    Your air conditioner contains a condensate pump that moves water from the condensate plate. Just like when your condensate PVC pipe becomes clogged, if the pump is not working, it will cause the drip pan to overflow. 

    What Are The Dangers Of Water Leaking From Your HVAC?

    The water produced by your air conditioning system under normal circumstances is not enough to cause harm. However, when your unit has too much condensation because it is continuously running or the drain is clogged, there are several concerns. 

    Mold and Mildew

    If you have a clogged drain line causing the drip pan to overflow, the water could seep into your insulation. The hot air and moisture provide the perfect environment for mold and mildew. 

    Furthermore, depending on the size of the leak, you could have a significant mold problem before you realize it. 

    Sheetrock and Insulation Damage

    Sheetrock is delicate, and it does not hold up well when it gets wet. If your air conditioner leaks onto sheetrock, it can cause significant damage in a relatively short time. 

    Electrical Complications 

    You do not want the water to drip on any of your home or air conditioning unit’s electrical components. If it does, it could cause a short and damage your AC system. 

    If you suspect that dripping water has damaged your electrical system, you should call an electrician before attempting any ac repairs. 

    What Should You Do If Your AC Unit Is Leaking Water? 

    Air conditioners all create some condensation. However, if your system is operating correctly and the condensate drain pipe is clear, there should not be enough water to overfill the drip pan or cause water damage.

    If you notice water leaking from your HVAC system, there are a few AC maintenance tasks you should take to prevent water damage and further damage. 

    1. Turn Your AC Off 

    As soon as you see that your air conditioner is not draining or is leaking, you should turn it off. Once you locate the source of the leak, you can address it and turn the unit back on. 

    If your evaporator coil is frozen, you will need to let it thaw before a service technician can work on your system. Until you figure out what is causing the leaking, it is best to leave your air conditioner off. 

    2. Check For Ice

    You need to check your system for ice buildup. First, check the lines on your outside unit. If your outdoor unit has ice, you probably need freon. 

    Next, check your evaporator coils in the air handler for ice. As long as your system is iced over, it would be best if you did not attempt to use it. 

    Using your air conditioner when either the indoor or outdoor unit is frozen will not do much to cool your home, and it could cause additional damage. 

    3. Address Water Leaks 

    Anytime you have a water leak or standing water in your home, you need to clean it up immediately to avoid the growth of harmful mold and mildew. Use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up any standing water or water in the drain pan. 

    Then, use fans to dry out the affected area. If you believe you have mold growth in your home, you should contact a professional mold remediation company to clean up the area.

    4. Change Your Air Filters

    Make sure your air filters are installed and clean. If you have not changed your filters in the past three months, they are overdue. 

    To avoid any issues relating to dirty air filters, you should change the filters regularly. If you have pets and live in a multi-person home, you should change your air filters every 60 days or as soon as they get dirty. 

    5. Clean Your Condensate Drain Pipe

    Your condensate drain pipe collects a lot of dust and debris, as well as condensation. So, clogs can quickly form. 

    If you notice water leaking from your air conditioner, you want to be sure the drip pan is clear. Otherwise, it will overflow and cause water damage. 

    For further instructions on how to drain your condensate pipe, watch this video. 

    6. Do Not Use Your AC When It Is Cold 

    Using your air conditioner when it is below 60 degrees will cause it to freeze. When it is cold out, you can quickly reduce the temperature in your home by opening a door or window for a few minutes instead. 

    7. Contact An HVAC Professional

    If you have tried the suggestions above and your air conditioner is still leaking, you need to contact an HVAC professional. You may need a system tune-up, or they may need to top your system off with refrigerant. You can take it a step further by subscribing to a cost-effective HVAC home warranty to cater to the maintenance, repair, and replacement of your faulty AC.

    Final Thoughts On Dangers From A Leaking Air Conditioner

    You can reduce the risk of damage from a leaking air conditioner by properly maintaining your HVAC system. The best way to do that is to schedule frequent inspections with a trained HVAC specialist. To find local HVAC technicians, you can fill out the following form.

    Get HVAC Estimates In Just 30 Seconds
    Then connect with local experts to get the held you need.
    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Alexis Bennett

    Alexis Bennett


    Alexis is a freelance writer with nearly a decade of experience covering the home services industry. She’s built considerable expertise in roofing, plumbing, and HVAC, as well as general construction and real estate matters. In her free time, Alexis enjoys coaching women’s golf. She lives in the Triad area of North Carolina.

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    photo of Andrew Dunn

    Andrew Dunn

    Senior Editor

    Andrew Dunn is a veteran journalist with more than 15 years of experience reporting and editing for local and national publications, including The Charlotte Observer and Business North Carolina magazine. His work has been recognized numerous times by the N.C. Press Association and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. He is also a former general contractor with experience with cabinetry, finish carpentry and general home improvement and repair. Andrew earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a certificate in business journalism. He lives in Charlotte, N.C.

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