An air conditioner leaking water isn’t a new problem. It’s a common issue faced by most AC owners. And since it can happen multiple times, some people are left with the question, can we use AC when water is leaking?
And the best answer is NO! When an AC is leaking water, it’s a sign of a problem. It’d be as simple as blocked or clogged drainage, but if the water is allowed to leak, it could lead to water damage and, even worse, create a fire hazard situation. So, using an AC when it’s leaking water isn’t an option.
However, there are a series of things you can do to solve the problem. I will take you through them, and hopefully, in the end, you have learned a thing or two about leaking AC, why you should not use it while water is leaking, causes of the leak, and how to solve the problem.
Why You Should Not Use AC When Water is Leaking
Below are some of the reasons you can’t, and you shouldn’t use an AC when water is leaking:
Could Be an Underlying Problem
When the water is leaking from your AC, it’s a clear sign there is a problem inside the unit or in the drain line that is causing water to accumulate and start dripping.
Even though a simple clog might cause the problem, it could also mean your unit is low on refrigerant; there’s dirt accumulation, dirty filters, or there is a refrigerant leak.
Neglecting to check and the problem could lead to permanent damage or expensive repairs. So, it’d be best to check it out or call a professional to troubleshoot the problem.
Can Lead to Mold and Mildew
Another consequence of using an AC when water is leaking is mold, fungi, and mildew growth capable of affecting your health.
The organisms produce spores, and when they go airborne, they pollute the air and might become hazardous to your health in the long run.
Most homes have mold spores in those nooks and crannies; it’s even inevitable in new construction. If the room stays dry, these mold spores stay dormant even for decades waiting for conditions to get better.
When you allow your air conditioner to run while water is leaking, the mold spores will contact it, and their growth will be triggered.
Now they can reproduce and fill the affected area while producing more spores that unhealthily pollute your indoor air.
Airborne mold spores can affect an average person in many ways, like causing irritation, nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, and difficulty breathing. The symptoms can even become catastrophic.
And it doesn’t stop there. For those with a pre-existing condition or compromised immune system, the impact of airborne mildew and mold spores can be severe. There is even the possibility of growing inside them and creating more health complications.
What’s more, it can get worse for the infants that grow households with mold infestation. They are at risk of developing asthma.
Possible Structural Damage
When you use an AC when water is leaking, it poses a health hazard and poses potential structural damage that can be pretty expensive to repair.
With the most obvious effect of water leak damage being aesthetic, I don’t think you will like stained, discolored, or streaked walls, the aftermath of allowing water to leak from your AC.
It could even get worse if your AC freezing coils and the drain pan are in your home ceiling. And if you didn’t know, drywall absorbs water relatively quickly, and when it does, it starts to warp and swell. If the AC starts to leak, the water will begin taking apart your ceiling, and before you know it, everything starts to fall apart.
If it’s a window air conditioner, the water could be leaking inside to your walls and floorings. If you have hardwood or whole house carpet, the water leak could force you to change the flooring sooner than you anticipated.
Repairing the water damages could cost you a lot. It’d be best to fix the water leaking problem before you end up spending hundreds of dollars on repairs.
Potential Appliance Damage and Fire hazard
Water and electricity are enemies that must never meet. When you use an AC when water is leaking, you risk the water reaching the AC control board and other electrical supplies lines in the house.
If that were to happen, there is a risk of short-circuiting, which can fry the AC electronics and possibly cause sparks to ignite a fire in the house.
You could be facing possible costly repairs to your AC, complete air conditioner replacement, or severe damage to your home electrical system.
And if you allow the water to accumulate inside the air conditioner, it can lead to rust and corrosion to the coil-holding plates, and before you know it, there are refrigerant leaks, which is worse than water leaks.
High Utility Bills
With an AC leaking water being a sign of low refrigerant, allowing it to run in such a state could mean high energy bills on your side. The air conditioner will try to match your needs with the low refrigerant and, in the process, consume more energy than before.
How to Deal with Water Leaking from Leaking AC
If you notice a water leak from your air conditioner, it’d be best to shut off the unit. If you’re familiar with it, check it out to rule out the obvious problems. If you’re handy, you can use these steps to solve the water leak:
- Check the filters: Dirty filters could be causing the hot air to accumulate in the unit and accelerate condensation, forcing the water to condensate and drop from the wrong places. Lift the top cover to slide or snap them out gently. If they are dirty, clean them.
- Unclog the drain line: if the drain line isn’t draining water as used, there might be a clog. Get yourself a wet/dry shop vac or a vacuum cleaner, insert the AC drain pipe end to the vacuum hose, and power it on. Use a damp towel to cover the space left between the drain pipe and the vacuum hose. Do this for a minute or two or until the water flows outright.
- Clean the Drain Pan: the next possible cause of the leak is the dirty drain pan causing a blockage to the drain. With the drain pan have a small capacity, it’s easy for the water to fill it when there is a clog or a blockage. Vacuuming the drain line and cleaning the pan can help the water flow out smoothly.
- Check if the unit is mounted right: if the air conditioner slants to the wrong side, you will have a water leak away from the drainpipe. It doesn’t have to be a noticeable angle, slightly leaning can make the water accumulate in the drain pan and causing the water to drip. If it’s slanting, you will need to level it.
If you’ve been using the AC when water is leaking, stop and do the following:
1) Remove the standing water and examine the spot for any damage and its severity. If you’re tempted to repair the water damage, ensure you can handle the task, else call a professional repairer.
2) Dry out the area where the water was dripping on to including wet furniture or carpet. A wet vac can help cut down the drying time. You can also use fans in the affected area; it will allow better air circulation.
3) Repair and repaint the damaged drywall or baseboards. Be sure to inspect the affected surfaces for mold growth.
4) Contact a professional HVAC repairer to help check out the water-leaking air conditioner.
- Remove the standing water and examine the spot for any damage and its severity. If you’re tempted to repair the water damage, ensure you can handle the task, else call a professional repairer.
- Dry out the area where the water was dripping on to including wet furniture or carpet. A wet vac can help cut down the drying time. You can also use fans in the affected area; it will allow better air circulation.
- Repair and repaint the damaged drywall or baseboards. Be sure to inspect the affected surfaces for mold growth.
- Contact a professional HVAC repairer to help check out the water-leaking air conditioner.
How often should you change the air filter in the air conditioner?
The rule of thumb is after six months if you’re using the inexpensive fiberglass AC filters. But if you’re using high-end pleated filters such as HEPA filters, you can do the change after 3-4 years. However, it’d be best to schedule a regular cleaning.
Avoid Using AC When leaking Water – Be Safe
Nothing good will come from using your air conditioner when water is leaking. Instead, you might end up with so many problems that can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in repair. Your air conditioner might even need replacing, and that’s an expense you might want to avoid.