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How Are Air Conditioner Leaks Repaired?

A functional and well-maintained air conditioner is unlikely to leak. If the cooling equipment in your Lake Forest home is leaking water or refrigerant, this may be a sign of a serious problem. The good news is that AC leaks don’t always indicate the need for a full system replacement. Depending on where and why the leak exists, it may be possible to resolve it with a quick and relatively inexpensive solution.

Can an Air Conditioner Leak Be Dangerous?

Minor air conditioner leaks aren’t generally dangerous and shouldn’t pose any serious threat to you or your family. However, large pools of water create the risk of electrocution, especially if pooling water is anywhere near a live electrical outlet or another source of electricity. Pooling water can also be a slip-and-fall hazard depending on the type of surface that the leak is collecting on. One of the most important things to note about any air conditioner leak is that it can cause serious harm to the surrounding or underlying building materials if it’s left unchecked for an extended period. It’s also important to note that some condensation is normal, but any moisture near or under a functioning air conditioner unit should dry quickly. Whenever water or other liquids begin pooling and remain near the unit, you need to schedule service immediately.

A Leaky Air Conditioner and Your Warranty

One of the most common causes of air conditioner leaks is poor equipment maintenance. If you haven’t been performing regular air filter changes, or if you haven’t been scheduling annual maintenance for your air conditioner, you may already be in danger of having your warranty for this equipment become void. Consider establishing a solid service schedule with a reputable HVAC company in your area. This way, annual maintenance will always be on the calendar, and you won’t be at risk of failing to fulfill your end of the warranty agreement. Not only will your AC manufacturer void your warranty if you’re found to be lax in general maintenance, but this agreement might also be voided if you attempt to apply a do-it-yourself remedy to any potentially serious problem that arises. Therefore, when leaks occur, it’s always best to call a licensed HVAC technician. Apart from performing filter changes and doing light cleanup work at the interior and exterior unit, you should always make sure that all maintenance and repair tasks are handled by qualified professionals who are certified to work on the air conditioner brand you own.

What Can You Do to Prevent or Troubleshoot AC Leaks?

Understanding why your air conditioner is leaking is the first step in determining the right solution. Often, air conditioner leaks are the result of dirty, clogged air filters. When the filter in an air conditioner isn’t being changed often enough, airflow over the coil is reduced, and efficient heat transfer cannot occur. Although changing the filter out can sometimes correct this problem, it’s usually a fix that’s best implemented before a leak has developed. Once the air conditioner actually starts leaking, there’s a very high likelihood that its evaporator coil has already sustained significant wear-related damage. Before attempting to change your AC filter or perform any other troubleshooting measures, always be sure to turn your air conditioner off. This will prevent additional leaking and give you a chance to clean up any standing water. Cleaning up standing water as quickly as possible will prevent moisture damage and slip-and-fall accidents. Once these things are done, replace the AC filter and try clearing dirt and other debris away from the indoor air registers and grilles. You can also check the outside condenser unit to make sure that this isn’t being blocked by any aggressive shrubs, trees, or other foliage. Keeping enough clearance around the entire perimeter of the condenser is important for preventing problems with leaking and overheating.

Fixing Leaks and Low Refrigerant Levels

When refrigerant levels are excessively low, air conditioners struggle to keep the home cool. If you have both an AC leak and an air conditioner that runs all the time without actually bringing indoor temperatures down, low refrigerant could be the problem. Much like a dirty air filter, excessively low refrigerant can cause problems at the evaporator coil. In this instance, your HVAC technician will need to determine why your system lacks refrigerant, fix this issue, and replace the evaporator coil. With insufficient refrigerant, the evaporator coil becomes excessively cold and eventually freezes over. As it thaws, melting water fills the drain pan and causes it to overflow. This is likely the type of leak that you have if water is pooling at or around the condensate drain pan.

Fixing a Clogged or Cracked Drain Pan or Drain Pipe

Air conditioners do produce a fair amount of condensation. However, they have components in place for collecting this moisture and routing it away from building materials. When everything is working as it should, the drain pan should never overflow, and building materials should never be wet. During your service appointment, if no other problems are suspected, these components will be carefully inspected and replaced as needed. These are two relatively simple problems that don’t generally cost a lot to fix.

Is Fixing Your Leaky Air Conditioner Worth the Cost?

Certain factors can make fixing a leaky air conditioner a poor choice. Among these is advanced age. If your AC unit is nearing the end of its lifespan, the cost of these repairs may be difficult to justify. After all, most air conditioners experience progressive losses in efficiency after they’ve been in service for a decade. With increasingly worn parts, older units also require more frequent repairs. As such, dated equipment costs more to use and more to fix over time. Replacing a damaged evaporator coil, drain pan, or drain pipe might suffice for now, but you’re virtually guaranteed to face new and more costly problems going forward. If your air conditioner uses Freon, or the R-22 refrigerant, having this refrigerant replaced or “recharged” could cost a veritable fortune. The manufacture of new R-22 refrigerant was recently outlawed. Now, there’s only a very finite supply of freon available, and the costs of purchasing it have skyrocketed. Replacing a Freon-reliant air conditioner is a matter of necessity. Soon it will be all but impossible to obtain replacement R-22 refrigerant. More importantly, investing in a more modern and far more efficient air conditioner can be infinitely less costly all around. Your home energy bill will go down, your carbon footprint will decrease, and everyone can enjoy significantly higher levels of home comfort. Generally, you can always calculate the true cost of air conditioner repairs by multiplying your quote by the unit’s age. For instance, if you have an air conditioner that’s recently passed its 10th year of service, a $350 repair bill is really $3,500. When using this method, it’s important to note that paying more than $5,000 for any repair is always a bad decision. It’s far more cost-effective to have the air conditioner replaced instead.

Turn to the Pros

At Dynamic Air Services, we’ve been serving residents of the greater Lake Forest and Corona, CA, areas since 1998. We offer an impressive range of residential and commercial heating and cooling services, as well home security and indoor air quality services. If your air conditioner is leaking, we’ve got you covered. Call us today to schedule an appointment for AC repairs or replacement.
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