Do You Hear Running Water From Your AC Unit? 3 Possible Explanations

Posted on: 28 May 2020

Life without your air conditioning can be unbearable when outdoor temperatures start to climb. Problems with your AC unit can be cause for alarm.

One problem that you might encounter when evaluating the condition of your AC system is the sound of running water coming from your outdoor condenser. This sound isn't something that you should take lightly.

Learn more about the possible causes of a running water sound so that you can appreciate the importance of scheduling timely repairs for this AC issue.

1. Clogged Condensate Drain Line

Your air conditioner pulls moisture from the air it cools to reduce humidity levels. This water condenses and moves through a drain line then wicks the moisture away from your AC unit. The condensate drain line is usually made from flexible plastic tubing.

It's easy for the condensate drain line to become clogged because the tubing is small in diameter. A clogged condensate drain line causes moisture to back up into the drain pan under your AC unit.

The sound of running water will become audible as the drain pan fills up. Your HVAC technician can clean or replace the condensate drain line to prevent further problems.

2. Refrigerant Leak

Liquid refrigerant runs through your AC unit to facilitate the cooling process.

It is the refrigerant that helps transfer heat to and from the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil is responsible for getting rid of excess water that collects in the drain pan of your AC system.

A refrigerant leak can cause the evaporator coil to lose efficiency. If the evaporator coil is unable to eliminate water as quickly as it should, the drain pan will overflow. This can result in serious water damage to your AC unit.

An HVAC technician should be called to handle any suspected refrigerant leak.

3. Dirty Air Filter

It's important that you remember to change the air filter in your AC unit on a regular basis. Air passes through the filter as it is drawn into the AC unit for cooling. Particulate matter becomes trapped in the filter, preventing contamination within the AC system itself.

A dirty air filter can block the flow of air being supplied to the evaporator coil. Poor airflow can cause the evaporator coil to freeze and thaw repeatedly. The moisture that is released as the evaporator coil thaws can produce a running water sound within your AC unit.

Check your air filter often to avoid possible water damage caused by restricted airflow in your AC system.

For more information about air conditioning repair, consider contacting a local expert.


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After we purchased our very first home, I realized that I was really struggling with paying for the heating and cooling costs. We were spending much, much more money every month than we thought we were going to, and it was really difficult to figure out what we should do. We thought long and hard about how to minimize our expenses, but we didn't really get anywhere until we talked with an HVAC contractor. He mentioned specific, actionable ways to lower our bill, such as programming our thermostat and using more of our ceiling fans. This blog is all about lowering your bill.

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