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Air conditioners, like all electronics, can really be a pain when they don’t work correctly. If your air conditioner is blowing out water, here’s what is likely causing it:
An air conditioner will blow out water if there’s a problem with the condensation drain. The water comes from the Freon coils in your AC unit. Once the coils start sweating, this water collects in a pan to drain out through the vents. If the drain isn’t working, the water blows out instead.
Common causes of an air conditioner blowing out water include:
- Drain pan blockage
- Frozen coil
- Blower fan malfunction
These are just a few of the potential causes. We will cover all causes later in this article.
Whether you have a window air conditioner or a central air conditioner, the cause remains mostly the same.
Consider How An Air Conditioner Works
An air conditioner works by drawing heat from the surroundings and transferring it outside. At the same time, it replaces the heat with cooler air and thus, reducing the temperature felt in the house.
Taking a closer look, many parts of the air conditioner work together to ensure this cycle continues and that cold air comes through the ductwork without fail. Therefore to understand how a malfunction occurs, we have to get familiar with the mechanical aspects of the air conditioner and how it works.
It starts with the warm air in the house being drawn in through the vent. The heat from the air blows over the evaporator coil as it passes through a refrigerant.
The refrigerant can also be called a cooling agent, and it is housed inside coils that pass through a closed system. Since the heat from the surroundings is hot, the refrigerant gets hot, changing from liquid to gas.
The gas travels through a loop system, and once it reaches the compressor, the temperature and pressure of the refrigerant rise. The Freon gas is now very hot. This gas is squeezed between two solid objects causing it to decrease in volume, and the condensation process begins.
The condenser is usually located outdoors. Once the refrigerant reaches the condenser, it gets exposed to the external air, which absorbs heat for the superheated refrigerant. The temperature of the refrigerant drops, causing the refrigerant to change from gaseous state to liquid.
From the condenser, the cold liquid travels into the evaporator coil, and vaporization starts. The fan blows cold air into the air ducts, then to your home, and the cycle begins again. This continues until the air temperature in your house reaches the desired level.
Once a cold temperature is attained, the thermostat shuts off the air conditioner.
What Causes the Air Conditioner to Blow Out Water?
When you find droplets on the sides of your AC unit or a puddle of water on the floor, just below your air conditioner, consider this:
Noticeable amounts of water leaking from your air conditioner is almost always a result of the overfilling of the condensate pan. And it happens during the last stage of the cooling process.
When the air conditioner takes humidity from the air, this moisture passes through the evaporation coils where it condenses to form droplets. These droplets collect into a drainage pan, and the water drains outside your house or into a plumbing system.
An air conditioner blowing out water from the outside of your house is normal. It happens when the slinger ring picks up the water in the condenser pan and slings it against the condenser coils (source).
This water is used to cool down the Freon coils and stop the condenser from overheating. In light of this, it’s not considered unusual when up to 20 gallons of water from the slinger ring comes out through the condensate drain of the air conditioner.
However, when the air conditioner blows out water around the house or spits water from the front and inside the house, the drainage system may have a malfunction. Although other reasons exist, including the following:
Rusted or cracked drain pan
As discussed earlier, the drain is used to collect condensate forms when humid air passes over the evaporator coils. For this reason, the drain pan is situated underneath the evaporator coils.
If the drain pan happens to be cracked or corroded, the air conditioner will start leaking water or blowing water all over the house.
Fortunately, you can fix this. If the drain pan is made of plastic, you may be able to fix it with epoxy glue or a waterproof caulk. Although plastic pans are easier replaced than repaired. However, if the drain pan is metal, you may have to replace it. It’s going to depend of the severity of the damage.
The performance and efficiency of an air conditioner can be easily impaired by faulty installation. Improper installation could result in leaky air ducts and poor airflow.
Another thing to consider is the slope. If a wall or window conditioner is installed in an improper slope, that is if it’s angled towards the inside instead of the outside – which is how water can flow out, water can collect in the drip pan and end up spilling over.
You can fix this by correcting the slope accordingly.
Blockage in the drainage system
The drainage system redirects water from the drain pan towards the plumbing or outside, so it doesn’t overflow. But when there is a blockage that can happen if dust or dirt clogs the drainage, water in the drain pan has no way of draining, causing it to fill then overflow.
This water may drip on the floor or blow around the house due to the force emitted by the circulation fan.
To remedy this, you can use a wet or dry vacuum to suck the dust or dirt from the drainage hose. The condensation line could also be blocked, so look for any obstructions and remove them.
My dad taught me to avoid this issue by pouring a cup of vinegar into the drainage pipe every month or two and that’s worked well for me through the years.
I had a water leak detection device (link to Amazon) installed in my HVAC units that automatically shut the system down if any water is detected in the pan.
A frozen evaporator coil is a common air conditioning problem. However, when the ice melts water starts dripping from the front of the air conditioner or blowing around the house due to the force produced by the fan.
An evaporator coil can ice up for the following reasons:
A dirty air filter
If the air conditioner filter stays dirty, then air circulation inside the cooling chamber could be affected. That said, make it a habit to change or clean your air filter monthly. It not only helps the unit run efficiently, but it can also prevent wasted energy in your home.
Refrigerant charge is too low
If the refrigerant level doesn’t match the manufacturer’s specifications, the performance of your air conditioner can be impaired.
For this reason, check whether the refrigerant charging is well performed during installation. If it’s too low or the refrigerant is added to a full system, this could worsen the situation.
You probably cannot remedy this problem yourself so consider hiring a licensed service technician to fix it.
If you use your air conditioner when it’s 62° F (16° C) the evaporator coils can freeze. This will then lead to water leaking from your unit since air conditioners are not meant to be used in the cold season.
Blower fan malfunction
If the blower fan is not working properly, it could result in a freezer over, causing your air conditioner to blow out water. Consider hiring a licensed technician to fix mechanical problems.
Besides damaging your home and not working efficiently, an air conditioner that is blowing out water is outright annoying.
Fortunately, most problems that result in an air conditioner spraying water all over can be fixed without the need of a technician.
However, if you cannot diagnose or determine what could be causing the issue, consider hiring a licensed technician as under-qualified service technicians could potentially make things worse.