HVAC Condensation Leaks

Air Conditioning Condensation Leak on Ceiling
Air Conditioning Condensation Leak on Ceiling

1st Reported Leak

Can your Air Conditioning Leak Water in the Attic and then into the House? It Could! As the Humidity Increases the Possibilities Increase. A Friend called to ask me what could be leaking from the ceiling in a Bedroom. I suggested the AC. At this Point it was a Small Drip with some Ceiling Damage.

After some Investigation it was learned the Water was Dripping from a Corner of the Metal Box where the Air Ducts Attached. The Bucket was put in Place to Limit the Ceiling Damage.

Air Conditioning Air Handler in the Attic
Air Conditioning Air Handler in the Attic

In the Box is the Air Handler. The Fan inside Brings the Air from the Rooms, then the Air Flows through the Evaporator Coils that are being Cooled by the Air Compressor located Outside. The Air is cooled as it passes over the Evaporator Coil then back inside the Rooms

With Humid Air Passing over the Cold Coils Condensation forms on the Coil, the Condensation Drips on to the Evaporator collects in the Evaporator Housing then finds the Passage put in by the Manufacturer.

That Condensation then passes to a Larger Drip Collection Pan that covers the Complete Attic Unit. A Line attached to the Drip Pan takes the Condensation Outside the Home.

This was Different

This Leak was Different, in that it was caused by an accumulation of Insulation chunks and Dirt that plugged up the Drain Hole in the Evaporator Housing. This Evaporator Housing was Plugged Up inside the Housing until the Condensate found another way out.

The Condensate found a Hole at the Corner of the Box then Dripped Down on the Ceiling. In most cases the Larger Drip Pan under the Complete Unit in the Attic would have collected the water but, it was too small when it was put in originally over 20 years ago.

The Image below shows the Evaporator Housing that stopped the Condensate from Exiting out the Intended Passage to the Drip Pan. It Does Not show the Plugged up Area, The Arrow Point to the Drain from the Evaporator Housing.

Air Conditioning plugged Evaporator Housing
Air Conditioning plugged Evaporator Housing

The Ceiling Damage here will have to be Repaired by Cutting Out a Section and Installing new Drywall Material, then Taping and Re-Finish the Surface and Paint. This is a Good Reason for a AC Check Up before the Summer Season.

The Image below shows the Water and Debris that was Vacuumed out of Evaporator Housing. This case was seen Early on and they were at Home and Not on Vacation for 2 weeks. Look for Water Stains on the Ceilling, I sure hope you don't see any.

Air Conditioning Evaporator Housing Dirt Removed
Air Conditioning Evaporator Housing Dirt Removed

About the Drain

There Are Drain Lines, connected to the Large Drain Pan, that go Outside.

Most of the Newer Homes have 2 Drain Lines connected. 1 is Connected to the Drain Pan at a Lower Level,

The 1st Line is at a Lower Level and the 2nd is at a higher Level. The (2 Line) Principle is that the Lower Level Line will Drain the Condensation from the Drip Pan under Normal Operation.

The 2nd Line (Higher) comes into Play when the Lower Line gets Plugged for whatever Reason. If your AC is Draining from the Higher Level Line then Your Unit should be checked to Clear the Plugged Lower Line before the Condensation overfills to the Attic Floor (Ceiling).

2nd Leak 2 Months Later

Another Leak was caused by the Drain Line separating at a 90 degree elbow Connection after 14 years. See the Image below.

Air Conditioning Drip Pan Drain Line Separated
Air Conditioning Drip Pan Drain Line Separated

The connection was Primed & re-glued making this Connection Secure at a Cost of under $100.00. They also pushed back the insulation to analyze the Sheet Rock Damage that appeared to be just in the Seam and did not Saturate the Drywall Material.

This leak was also a Friend, Sue called me just after 10 PM. Sue's Husband was at work, Sue stepped in Water on her way to the Kitchen, after looking around the water was Dripping very fast from the Ceiling.

When Sue called she wanted to know how to shut off the water thinking a Pipe had Broken. I suggested then it could be the Air Conditioning, but she turned off the Water at the Main and the Dripping did not slow down.

After turning the Water back on she switched off the AC and the Leak stopped after just a couple of minutes.

This leak could have caused Extensive Damage to the Living Room Ceiling and it's Contents in a week or two if they were away on Vacation.

This Leak was Challenging to Locate. When you have an AC Tech come for an Inspection ask if He has ever found such a Problem and therefore Prevented Damage.

What about Insurance

Most if not all Insurance will not cover the AC Problem. If they cover any Damage at all it would be the Dry Wall Repairs and Paint but don't count on it. If you think there could be a problem call your Agent.

How much Condensate is there

We put a 1 Gallon Container under the line from the Air Conditioning unit Condensation drip outside the Home. We checked it each hour for 3 1/2 hours.

Average Temperature in this time Period 95 degrees Average Humidity 42 Percent. The Glass Container filled in about 3 1/2 Hours. The Humidity was Steadily going Down during this Period. The Amount would have been more with Higher Temperature and Humidity.

Be Pro-Active

If you have easy access to your AC unit check it before the Season. Check and Clean the Condensation Drain Pan and Pipe. Keep the Filters changed on a Regular Schedule. If you know the approximate location of the Air Handler above the Ceiling, check occasionally looking for Water Stains.

Internal Links

AC Check Ups

AC Filters

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