WHY THAT CEILING LEAK COULD BE FROM YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNIT
AUG 17, 2017
Ceiling leaks can be a huge hassle. But in addition to problems with your roof, they can also be indicative of a problem with your air conditioner. In this blog post, we will explain why and how to tell if you should be calling an HVAC technician to deal with your ceiling leak. To be clear, anytime an air conditioner is malfunctioning to the point of causing ceiling leaks, it is imperative to call a professional right away. But how can you pinpoint your AC as the issue?
WHY AIR CONDITIONING UNITS ARE A COMMON CAUSE OF CEILING LEAKS
In addition to cooling your home, air conditioning units are tasked with pulling moisture from the air to decrease humidity. Through condensation, the water vapor in the air is captured and converted to liquid water. All of that moisture has to go somewhere, right? When functioning properly, the resulting liquid water will be drain appropriately through a drain.
However, the vast majority of service calls are related to leaks from an air conditioning unit or central air system. And if you have an air conditioning unit in the attic (probably the air handler) or on the rooftop (which is incredibly common in Arizona), it is more likely that leaks will make themselves known via ceiling leaks.
WHEN YOUR CEILING LEAK IS CAUSED BY THE AIR CONDITIONING UNIT
The first hint that your air conditioning unit may be the culprit behind your ceiling leak is that you notice the ceiling leaking on a sunny day. Typically, issues with the roof will cause ceiling leaks during rain storms. Additionally, you may notice that rather than direct ceiling leaks, there is water dripping from one or multiple HVAC vents in your home.
CLOGGED CONDENSATE LINE
To facilitate the process of removing moisture, air is forced over air conditioner coils where condensation develops and drips into a condensate pan to collect the water to be drained. In addition to the primary condensate pan that is inside the air conditioning unit and under the coils, there is a secondary condensate pan that works as a backup in case the primary condensate pan fails. If you notice that the pan underneath the unit is wet, you likely have a clogged condensate line.
You will want to consult a professional right away to locate and address the clog in the condensate line — especially if you are also noticing ceiling leaks. A condensate line clogged near the top of the line (nearer to your roofline) can cause serious damage to your home including water damage, harmful mold contaminating the home. Depending on how serious the clog is, special tools may be needed to alleviate it. Additionally, you can take some proactive measures to prevent clogged condensate lines in the future.
The primary condensate drain likely has a trap. This trap should be cleaned at least once per year (as part of your annual air conditioner tune-ups) to maintain proper function. Additionally, it is not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with this trap to clean yourself, if you are comfortable doing so. Consult your air conditioner’s owner’s manual or ask a technician at your next scheduled maintenance or repair appointment. The technician will be able to show you where the trap is and there is a cleanout installed in the trap — something that makes cleaning it so much easier!
OTHER ISSUES WITH CONDENSATE PANS
Alternatively, the issue may not be with the condensate line at all, but because of a hole or a crack in the primary condensate pan itself (you would not notice any symptoms of a hole in the second pan unless the first one was overwhelmed by water or otherwise malfunctioning). Aside from the steps you take to take care of your air conditioner overall, there is not a lot that can be done to avoid this issue with the condensate pans. Over time, they tend to rust and corrode.
CLOGGED FILTER AND/OR DIRTY EVAPORATOR COILS
Some people may also notice ceiling leaks caused by their air conditioning units if evaporator coils have a lot of dirt built up on them and are very dirty. Sometimes this is the result of restricting airflow because an air filter has not been changed frequently enough and has become clogged. Additionally, the coils themselves should be cleaned during regular air conditioner maintenance to prevent ceiling leaks and ensure the machine continues to function correctly.
If you have ceiling leaks or if you forgot about your yearly check up give us a call today!