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Why Your Outdoor AC Unit Leaks and When You Should Be Concerned

Why Your Outdoor AC Unit Leaks and When You Should Be Concerned

Have you ever wondered why there always seems to be a pond building up next to your air conditioning unit outside your house? You aren’t alone. Air conditioning leaks are normal and mostly harmless. However, some types of leaks could indicate a bigger issue, so you should remain alert to the nature of the leak and what is going on with your machine. King HVAC Contractors, which does air conditioning repair in Scottsdale, AZ, has helped us explain what to look for.

Why Does My Machine Leak?

The main reason why your machine leaks is the same reason water forms on the side of a cold drink and why clouds form in the sky: condensation. Condensation is the process of a gas turning into a liquid, and it occurs when hot and cold air meet. The warm air outside meets the cold surface of the AC unit, and the air loses its capacity to hold the moisture, causing it to drop. Additionally, the process of an AC unit, which consists of a cycle of condensation and evaporation, creates its own water droplets which should drain out. Chances are the hotter and more humid of a place you live in, the more condensation your machine will collect. This is normal and nothing to be worried about.

Do I Ever Need to Worry If I See Water?

There are many different types of leaks, and some are more serious than others. Take a closer look to get a more complete picture. Muddy water dripping might indicate a buildup of dirt inside, and you may discover green algae or mold. In these cases, a good cleaning is in order before any bigger problems develop. Ignoring this could cause the drain to get clogged, which could lead to damage, and a serious mold growth could make you sick and become harder to eradicate.

If it looks like an excess amount of water is dripping, there could be a whole range of internal issues that need to be looked at. Frozen coils, broken pumps and seals, dirty air filters, and many other things might be causing additional leakage and potentially more issues for the unit. Lower temperatures outside may cause extra leaking, which is no cause for alarm, but otherwise an abnormal amount of water dripping is a good reason to call in someone to service your unit.

What If I Don’t Have Any Water Dripping at All?

As water dripping from your machine is normal, no water dripping from it is abnormal. This is likely the result of a blockage which needs to be cleaned. While many AC issues require a professional to fix, cleaning the unit is something you can do on your own. Even in the absence of issues, you should clean your unit once a year, especially if you live in an area where a lot of dirt and dust accumulate.

My Machine Is Leaking More Than Usual, and My Room Isn’t Cooling. What’s Going On?

This could be a refrigerant leak, which is a bigger concern than typical water leakage. Refrigerant is the chemical that cools the AC unit, and if the machine works properly it shouldn’t need to be replaced. There are a number of signs of a refrigerant leak, The easiest to notice are that the house is taking longer to cool than usual, or the machine is blowing hot air. Another sign of a leak is a hissing or gurgling sound from the unit, which is a sign of a hole in the coil.  A punctured coil is the most likely cause of the leak, and the puncture will likely get larger the longer the unit runs, so it is important to fix it sooner rather than later. Refrigerants can be harmful to breathe and are bad for the environment, so make sure you fix your machine as soon as possible. The Miami Herald even suggests that a refrigerant leak is a good reason to go ahead and replace your machine, depending on its age.

One Little Leak and I Need a Whole New Machine?

It is up to you and the conditions of your unit. You could spend thousands of dollars on repairs, at which point it makes sense to get a more reliable new model. Repair agents recommend keeping your AC unit for 15 years to maximize its usage, and Energy Star recommends replacing the unit after 10 years, as new models are more efficient and can save you 20% on energy costs, making it a worthy investment. If your unit is coming close to falling in that age range and you’re getting high quotes on repairs, consider opting for a brand new unit instead.

I Didn’t Think My Leak Was So Serious!

While most air conditioner leaks are normal, and others indicate issues but are not major emergencies, they are not things to ignore either. The longer you leave the machines without fixing them, the more you leave your unit vulnerable to greater potential damage. Don’t hesitate to have a professional take a look, and try to be mindful of signs of larger issues.