Top 5 Causes Of A Leaky HVAC System
A large majority of HVAC companies treat leaks on a daily basis. In fact, leaks found in HVAC systems that are improperly maintained are fairly common and need to be taken seriously and addressed quickly. So what are the most common causes of leaks, and how can they be prevented?
Clogged Or Damaged Drainage Equipment
The sheer amount of water in the air around you could surprise you. Water is a natural side effect of using HVAC equipment, especially cooling systems. Near the condenser and evaporator, the temperature approaches what’s known as the “dew point,” where water will go from evaporated in air, to condensed, in droplets. As a result, all HVAC systems will collect water and need to have drainage installed to remove it from the unit safely and quickly. If you’re seeing leaks, it’s likely the drainage is blocked or the drainage system is somehow damaged.
There’s no truer advice than “You get what you pay for” when it comes to HVAC installation. If the previous home owner decided to skimp on proper installation you might have an HVAC system that’s tilted, or a system installed in such a way that all that condensation you’re generating can’t drain. The water your HVAC system will inevitably collect has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is usually right onto your carpet.
It’s not uncommon, especially during hot and humid days, where your air conditioner has to work extra hard and pieces of your HVAC system may completely freeze. Freeze-ups are a separate problem with many of the same causes as leaks. Leaks from frozen equipment are bad for two reasons; the first, obviously, is the water. The second is that freezing, thawing and refreezing can break various components of your HVAC system and lead to other problems. If you open up the blower door and see a big chunk of ice, call a professional immediately! This problem is past due.
Even if your system doesn’t freeze up, low refrigerant might still cause some fairly serious leaking issues. As an HVAC system depletes its refrigerant, the evaporator (indoor) coil will become much colder. The lower the overall temperature, the more moisture is being drawn out of the air, and if the system doesn’t freeze, it will instead generate more water than your drainage system is likely able to handle.
Refrigerant can escape through leaks in the refrigerant line. And no, this is not something you should check yourself; in fact, it’s highly dangerous to do so unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
Clogged Ducting And Filters
Your HVAC system is heavily dependent on proper airflow. If airflow is obstructed for any reason, problems will quickly begin piling up for you. The most common forms of obstruction are vegetation growing around an outdoor unit, and a clogged filter; both of which you can usually address yourself. Make a point of cleaning around your unit, keeping the vents clear, and checking the filter on a regular basis to keep the air flowing.
For the most part, if you find a leak, make a point of calling in the professionals. Often a leak is a sign of larger problems within your HVAC system and you’ll need someone with expertise to fix it.