How To Fix A Leaky Air Conditioner Like A Pro

One of the most common air conditioner problems experienced by homeowners across the country is a water leak. This is because air conditioners create a significant amount of condensation, which should exit through a drain tube. If something is blocking the flow of water, there is a hole in the drain tube, or the condensate pump isn't working, then you'll have a leak. While it's always best to hire a professional HVAC contractor or plumber to come to your home and fix your leaky air conditioner, sometimes the problem is simple enough for you to make the repair yourself. Keep reading to learn how you can troubleshoot and then fix a leaky air conditioner just like the professionals do it:

1. Check the condensate pump and tubes.

When the condensate pump stops working, water will overflow and leak out of your AC unit. The first step is to make sure that the air conditioner is plugged into an electrical outlet. Then, make sure the drain tube is securely connected to the pump. Also look for water leaking out of the tube. If you have a faulty tube, purchase replacement tubing at your local home improvement center or HVAC supply shop and replace the leaky tube.

2. Check the condensate pump's electrical supply.

Verify that the electrical outlet your central air conditioning unit is plugged into is working properly. You can do this by sticking an outlet tester or voltage meter into the outlet and observing the meter's lights. These testers and meters can be purchased at your local hardware store or home improvement center. If the outlet isn't supplying electricity, then you've found the problem. You'll need an electrician to fix it, or simply plug your air conditioner into a different outlet.

3. Confirm that the ball float is operational.

Pour water into the pump's collector. Then, look to see if the ball float inside rises with the water level. If it does and the pump starts working, then this isn't your issue. If the ball float doesn't rise with the water level, then it is either stuck or broken.

  • If the ball float is stuck, unplug the air conditioner from the electrical outlet, disconnect the inbound water tube, and take off the top cover to the pump. Clean the inside of the pump thoroughly, put it back together, and test it. It should be working fine now.
  • If the ball float is old or broken, you should replace it. You can purchase new ball floats at well-stocked home improvement centers and HVAC supply stores, then follow the manufacturer's instruction on how to install it. Or, call your local HVAC technician to replace the float for you.

4. Make sure the check valve isn't stuck.

If the pump is running but the water pan isn't emptying, then the discharge tube could be stuck. To fix it, you have to unscrew the check valve. Look inside for the ball and loosen it. Then look for any obstructions. If you find an obstruction, remove it. Then test the pump again to see if that does the trick to stop the leak.

Better yet, just replace that tube. You will have to cut the old tube out and use a coupling to put a new tube in.

5. Make sure the drain tube isn't clogged with algae.

There is probably algae clogging the tube. You'll have to clean the tube with a wire or blow the algae out. You can also make a cleaning solution to kill the algae by mixing 1 part bleach to 16 parts water. Then pour the solution into the pump's trough so it will pump through the tube and clean it out.

6. See if there's ice blocking the tube.

If you see ice blocking the drain tube, you need to clean or replace the filters in the air conditioner. Throw-away filters need to be replaced every month or two during cooling season. Not only will this maintenance procedure extend the life of your AC unit, but it will also decrease its energy consumption by as much as 15%, which will lower your energy bill.

Some air conditioners have re-usable filters that can be cleaned by vacuuming all the dust and debris out, then submerging it in a mixture of liquid detergent and water. You can also use vinegar and water to clean your AC's filter. Let the filter air dry before putting it back into place.

If you've gone through the steps above and your air conditioner is still leaking water, it's time to call in the experts. Your local HVAC contractor or plumber will come to your home when it's convenient for you, inspect your air conditioner, and make the necessary repairs. Give one of them a call. They'd be happy to help you. Contact a company like Redlands Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning for more information.