Your HVAC air handler (ahu) is usually located in the attic, a closet or crawl space. Its purpose is to heat or cool the air providing the perfect temperature within your home. When warm air passes over extremely cold evaporator coils, condensation forms and drips into a drain pan below. Like water droplets that form on a cold drink in summer, the same is happening at your air handler. Unfortunately, sometimes condensate drain pans and lines can get damaged or clogged resulting in water damage to your home if gone unchecked.
Inspecting your air handler for frozen evaporator coils, cracked drain pans, and clogs can help prevent water leaks before they happen. Below are some steps to follow as you inspect your air handler, drain pan and drain line. If you find your air handler is leaking water or if you have a frozen evaporator coil, turn off the system immediately. If you need our assistance, give us a call to discuss the issue or schedule a service repair.
There are three main reasons a HVAC system will leak and can cause water damage to ceilings and walls.
1-Frozen evaporator coil in the air handler (usually located in the attic, closet or crawlspace)
2-Cracked or overflowing drain pan (located under the air handler)
3-Clogged condensation drain line (located at air handler drain pan, line then runs outside of house)
A frozen evaporator coil can occur when HVAC filters are not changed regularly, and the system does not get adequate airflow. Disposable filters should be changed every month to three months, and reusable filters should be rinsed and dried just as often. In the summer months when the system is working harder and running longer, it is a good idea to check filters more often.
Make sure the returns and vents are not obstructed by furniture, curtains or objects blocking airflow and floor vents are clear of furniture and carpets. Open any closed air vents and internal doors. Good air circulation is a vital component for proper system performance, longevity and preventing premature system breakdown.
Frozen evaporator coils can also be caused by dirty coils, a broken blower motor, or lack of refrigerant which requires a service repair appointment with a heating and air professional.
A cracked or overflowing drain pan can be another reason for water damage from a leaking air handler. Your drain pan is located underneath your indoor air handler (which houses your evaporator coil) and catches any condensation from your air conditioning unit. With the unit turned off, inspect your drain pan and pipe for leaks. The pipe is usually connected to your drip pan and discharges the condensate outside. Use a wet-dry vac to clean the overflow pan and inspect the bottom, corners, and edges with a flashlight. If cracks or leaks are found, contact a heating and air professional for part replacement. There is also an internal (ahu) drain pan that can only be replaced by a licensed HVAC company which can crack or rust through causing leaks.
The third reason why your air conditioner might be leaking is a clogged drain line. This is a potential DIY project if you have a wet-dry vacuum. Locate the PVC drainpipe outside of your home and attach the wet-dry vacuum and let it run for 10-15 minutes ensuring the line has been sufficiently cleared of algae, fungi and debris. In most cases this is enough to clear a drain line, but some feisty clogs cannot be cleared in this manner and may require a heating and air professional. If you find your drain line isn’t connected properly or is damaged, you will want to call for a professional repair.
Modern air conditioning systems have automatic shut-off switches for clogged air filters and condensate lines. If your air conditioner won’t turn on, check your air filter and drain line first. If you are unable to get the system running, contact a trusted heating and air professional.
All Weather Mechanical Inc. offers a $159 Annual Preventative Maintenance Service Agreement that can stop leaks before they start and prevent other costly premature breakdown issues with two (2) tune-ups per year. With this agreement our customers also enjoy 10% discount off parts, no service charge fee and priority scheduling within 24 hours.
Let us know what we can do for you to help keep your heating and air conditioning running at peak performance.