Air Conditioners

Is Water Leaking From Air Conditioner Dangerous?

Water Leaking From an Air Conditioner

Air conditioners’ purpose is to make our homes superbly comfortable during hot weather. However, there is one common issue experienced by most AC owners, leaks. So, is water leaking from the air conditioner dangerous?

Typically, water leaking from an air conditioner is not dangerous. However, this depends on the type of system you have, where it’s leaking from and to, and how much water is leaking. If your system is located in a place that will get wet, then this could cause damage. The leak can also lead to corrosion and mold growth.

This post will discuss when the water leaking from an air conditioner is dangerous and what to do about it. So, read along.

When is Water Leaking from Air Conditioner Dangerous?

Although water leaking from the air conditioner is not dangerous, it can become a problem if you do not take care of it. Few drops out of the unit once in a while might be caused by moisture freezing on the wrong area, which won’t be so much of a problem. However, if you’re getting drips daily, then this is a sign of a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. If not, it could lead to a series of issues such as:

1) Mold and Mildew

The most common result of water leaking from an air conditioner is mold growth. Mold loves moisture, so once it starts growing, it won’t stop unless you address the issue immediately. Water damage to the AC unit’s walls can also lead to more problems such as carpet rot, which will be costly to fix.

mold in air conditioner system

Rotted areas of the wall should be removed entirely before replacing them with new drywall. If not, they’ll keep on rotting again due to constant contact with the moist surface. Suppose you have more than one room affected by this problem. In that case, there are chances that your house foundation has weakened, causing structural damages in the future plus high utility bills because of general discomfort caused within the indoor environment.

Mold needs a food source, making humidity a significant factor for its growth. If your home is damp, it’s like a buffet for mold which can lead to serious health problems such as allergies and respiratory diseases depending on how much of the fungus you contact.

If you have pets or children at home, this could be even more dangerous due to their lower immune systems.

2) Structural Damage

Suppose water leaking from the air conditioner damages drywall, and it’s not a tiny area. In that case, this might lead to structural damage due to the foundation being weakened by constant moisture, resulting in the whole house collapsing.

For the structure of your home to remain strong, you need a properly insulated roof designed with a proper slope so rainwater can flow off faster, preventing any accumulation on particular areas such as those under AC units.

If water freezes under the roof, it can cause damage to shingles (if not completely break them) which might lead to leakage in the future.

3) Appliance Damage and Fire Hazard

If you’re getting drops of water coming out from your AC unit daily, then that means that the insulation around pipes has worn off because of constant contact with a moist surface.

As mentioned earlier, this causes corrosion, which is bad for appliance health but even more dangerous if there’s a potential risk of fire hazard.

Corroded wires are much easier to get hot enough to start a flame. This problem can be easily prevented by installing proper insulation and the piping system before using the ac again.

4) High Utility Bills

Although the air conditioner doesn’t require much from your pocket to operate, constant leakage can cause higher bills. A leaking AC might be sending you a sign that there is a problem somewhere, and it could be as worse as leaking refrigerant.

As such, it will pull more energy to try and compress the available refrigerant. With time, the AC unit will be drawing too much power to try and meet the necessary temperature difference.

5) Electrical Complications

Last but not least, dripping water can leak an electric line and cause problems. You don’t want this to happen, especially if you have young children at home, because there is a possibility that they could get electrocuted.

What’s more, electrical current in a wet environment might cause a short circuit leading to fire hazard too, so it becomes vital that the affected area gets repaired before using AC again or turned off when necessary.

6) Health Hazards from leaking refrigerant (Freon)

Air conditioning units contain refrigerant, which helps cool surrounding areas by turning them into gas vapor and releasing heat through the coil.

Even though refrigerant itself isn’t toxic in small amounts, its main components can cause trouble because they include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) compounds that deplete the ozone layer. What’s more, it has a poisonous effect only when inhaled in large quantities for hours at once.

It’s important to mention that while there are some CFCs in air conditioners, they don’t cause health problems unless you’re exposing yourself for too long (over 16 hours).

If this is the case, symptoms might include shortness of breath, coughing, or chest pain but other than that, your body will be able to get rid of toxins on its own within 48-72 hours.

Leaks can also happen because of cracks in refrigerant lines that a professional should repair immediately before further damage occurs. Make sure you find out why the AC unit is leaking water and what needs to be done about it sooner rather than later.

What To Do If Your Air Conditioner Is Leaking Water?

And even though water leaking from an air conditioner isn’t dangerous, as mentioned above, it can cause a series of a problem if left unaddressed. That’s why it’s crucial you understand what to do if you notice water leaking from your AC unit.

1) Shut off the AC

The first step is to kill the power going to the air conditioner from the breaker box. You want to make sure it’s not running until you fix the problem. That will also stop the water from dripping anymore, and you can save yourself from expensive repairs and high energy bills.

2) Check the Cause of the leak

Once you’ve shut off the power to your AC, it’s time to check what could be the cause of water leaking. If there is ice around the evaporator coils, then thaw them out before anything else happens because this might also mean the refrigerant line has come loose.

a) Check for a Clogged Drain

A clogged drain is the first place to check if your unit is leaking water. It’s easy for dirt and debris to build up inside the air conditioner, especially if you regularly clean it. As such, it gets washed off the coils and finds its way to the drain line.

The build-up can block the small water passage with time, causing the water to accumulate on the condensate pan. When it fills up, it will find an alternative path, and that’s when the unit will start to leak. So, remove the front cover and check for a clogged drain and clean it.

b) Check for Dirty Air Filter

If there are no signs of a clogged drain, you want to check for a clogged air filter. When dirt accumulates on the air filter, it reduces the airflow causing the air conditioner coils to freeze up. When the ice forms and defrost, it will drip fast, filling the condensate pan quicker than it can drain, causing the unit to drip water in other areas. So, it’d be best to give the air filter a nice bath in the sink using mild dish soap.

c) Check the Air Conditioner Mounting

You want to make sure it’s not slanting on one side, especially the wrong side of the drain. Open the front cover and pour some water on the drain pan, and watch the water flow. Make sure it’s flowing toward the drain pipe.

If it’s going the other way, then your unit isn’t balanced, which is the cause of the water leak. You want to mount it properly or make some adjustments that will level it. Get a level to check how much you want to adjust it.

Laser Level Line Tool, Qooltek Multipurpose Cross Line Laser 8...
24,796 Reviews
Laser Level Line Tool, Qooltek Multipurpose Cross Line Laser 8...
  • 3-PRONGED APPROACH - combines a fine-tuned tape measure, a triple-positioned leveling...
  • WORKS FOR INDOOR - designed for any situation where a straight line or accurate...

d) Check for Freezing on the Coils

If you open the front cover to have access to the evaporator coils, check for icing. If there is ice formation around them, you have a technical problem. The refrigerant level could be low, Freon could be leaking, or you could be running the AC when it’s too cold.

According to the Department of Energy, the sweet spot of running a dehumidifier is around 78°F (26°C). So, you want to make sure your thermostat stays within the range. If the temperatures are okay, you have a problem with the refrigerant.

Unfortunately, this is not a DIY fix. You have to call a technician to fix the problem before you can reuse the air conditioner.

3) Manage the Water Damage

Once the leak is fixed or as you wait for the HVAC professional to arrive, it’d be best to do a damage assessment. Start by getting extracting water from the surfaces using a wet vacuum cleaner.

Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black
11,499 Reviews
Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black
  • 【LARGER CAPACITY】Stanley SL18116P Wet / Dry Vacuum has a larger capacity over 22 L,...
  • 【VERSATILE & POWERFUL】Thanks to the 4 peak HP motor, this vac offers powerful enough...

When that is done, get a fan and run it near the surface to help dry out the surface faster. You can even get a dehumidifier to boost the drying.

If you’re drying surfaces that could develop mold, you want to spray a mold killer to destroy any mold spores that might have taken the opportunity and started growing.

Use a moisture meter to make sure the surface(s) is completely dry. If it’s the walls and the damage is visible, repainting can go a long way in restoring the aesthetics.

hOmeLabs 4500 Sq. Ft Energy Star Dehumidifier - Ideal for Large...
52,749 Reviews
hOmeLabs 4500 Sq. Ft Energy Star Dehumidifier - Ideal for Large...
  • 4,500 sq ft Large Dehumidifier: Our 15.4 x 11 x 24.3 inches dehumidifier with 1.6 gallon...
  • Designed For Modern Home: That most dehumidifiers are clunky eyesores is news to nobody....

Related Questions

Is it possible for the air conditioner in my home to dry out a wet basement?

Yes! This can be done with an AC unit with enough power to handle moisture problems due to flooding or weather conditions. You want your equipment’s BTU rating (British Thermal Unit) and SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) to be high enough for the job.

About the author

Sharif Hasan

I am Sharif a data-driven marketer by profession and run The Spruce Air. I am very interested in keeping good-quality air inside of my home. Besides, I love to share my air-related knowledge through my website.

Leave a Comment