By Steve Graham, Networx
All room air conditioners drip -- or at least they should. However, drips in the wrong place or the wrong volume of dripping water may be a sign of a problem with the air conditioner.
Why air conditioners drip
As the name suggests, air conditioners do more than simply cool the air. They help condition the air and increase comfort by reducing humidity. The basic concept is similar to the condensation that collects on an iced drink. The air conditioner’s cooling coil or evaporator absorbs moisture from the room. The airborne water vapor cools into liquid form and then collects on cold surfaces in the air conditioning unit.
How much air conditioners drip
The volume of dripping condensation from an air conditioner varies widely depending on humidity levels and temperature, as well as several details regarding the size, efficiency and installation of the air conditioner.
On a summer day in a hot, humid climate, each window air conditioner can drip up to two gallons of water per day. Keep in mind that this water can be collected for use in landscape irrigation. Central air conditioning systems can collect 20 gallons of water per day, and some homeowners collect and divert that water for irrigation. On the other hand, air conditioner condensation should not be collected for drinking water because of the risk of lead exposure and other contaminants.
Where air conditioners drip
The condensed water should leak from the back of the air conditioner unit whenever the unit is running. The water drips from the cooling coil into channels that should be angled toward the back of the unit. Some of the water is used to cool heating coils in the machine, but most will drip out of the unit.
If an air conditioner is not dripping, it may not properly be doing its job of dehumidifying the room. If it is dripping from locations other than the back of the unit, you may have a problem.
Troubleshooting dripping air conditioners
Perhaps the most common problem with air conditioner condensation is water dripping out the front of the unit, caused by installation errors. Such drips can ruin furniture or flooring, and may lead to mold concerns. The back of the air conditioner should be slightly lower than the front to encourage proper drainage.
Water dripping from the sides or front of the air conditioner could also be caused by air leaks. If the air conditioner is not properly sealed in place, hot outside air could turn into dripping condensation when it hits the cool air conditioning surfaces. You may need to caulk and insulate around the air conditioner to reduce such condensation. This will also boost efficiency and could reduce energy bills.
If the water freezes into ice rather than dripping out, the air conditioner likely needs servicing. If there is no water dripping out, the drains may be blocked, which also likely requires professional service.