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Serving Orange County

- SINCE 1981 -

Serving Orange County

- SINCE 1981 -


Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30-5:30PM
Saturday: 8:00-1:00PM


Saddleback Plumbing Heating & Air Blog

Why Water Might Leak From Your AC


You may expect to see water leaks coming from places like beneath your sink or around the edges of your shower. These are places where there’s plumbing, and where there’s plumbing there can be leaks.

But water leaking out of your air conditioner? You might not have thought about that occurring. Yet you can see the water starting to puddle around the inside cabinet of your central AC. Why is this happening? Where is the water coming from? Do you need it repaired?

We’re going to look at why water might start to leak from your air conditioner and what to do about it. In most cases, you’ll need professional air conditioning repair in Irvine, CA. Our team is here, ready to help you solve whatever cooling system troubles you have.

Where the water comes from

A standard refrigerant-based air conditioning system doesn’t use water to cool the air. It does, however, create water moisture as it works. It’s a byproduct of evaporating refrigerant to remove heat from the air. 

As the blower in the AC pushes warm air over the evaporator coil, the cold refrigerant in the coil will evaporate and absorb heat out of the air to cool it. Evaporation also causes moisture in the air to condense and form as water droplets along the coil. It’s the same as seeing condensation forming on a cold drink taken out of the refrigerator.

The water moisture drips off the coil and falls into a shallow plastic pan placed below of the coil. The water collected in this condensate pan then leaves the AC through a drain. A condensate pump moves the water along a line until it deposits it outside. You’ll occasionally hear the sound of water dripping in your AC: this is the condensate system at work.

How the AC can start leaking

Now you know the basics of why water is present in your AC. Now we’ll look at what can go wrong and lead to leaks.

  • Clogged condensate drain: The drain can become blocked with algal growth or small debris. This will rapidly cause the pan to overflow, since it’s only about an inch deep. An overflow will usually trip a limit switch in the AC that will shut it off; you’ll notice a blank thermostat screen. Technicians can detach and clean the drain to fix this problem.
  • Corroded drain: If the drain corrodes, it can pull away from the bottom of the drain pan, leaving a hole for water to just pour right through. Professionals may need to replace the drain and the pain to prevent this.
  • Burnt-out pump motor: The condensate pump works with a motor, like many components of the heat pump. Like any motor, it can burn out. This will also cause the drain pan to overflow and leak water onto the flow. 
  • Excessive humidity: It’s possible for too much humidity in the air to overwhelm the condensate system, although this is rare. Often, this problem stems from an AC that wasn’t correctly sized when it was installed. 

There are several other possibilities, and you can trust our technicians to find out the best way to help your AC.

Reach out to us for any help you need with your air conditioning. Saddleback Plumbing Heating & Air has Served Orange County since 1981.

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