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The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc. Blog

Drip, Drip, Drip: Why Your AC Makes That Sound


One of the best ways you can discover that it’s time to call us for AC repair in Palm Harbor, FL is by listening for unusual sounds coming from the air conditioner’s cabinets. These warning sounds include rattling, creaking, hissing, bubbling, shrieking, and screeching. 

But what about the sound of water dripping? This is a normal noise you can expect to hear from your AC, but we’ve found that people are a bit confused about why they hear water inside their air conditioners. ACs don’t use water to cool down the air, so where is this water coming from?

We’re going to answer this question, not just because it’s an interesting bit of trivia, but because it will help you understand the condensate drainage system of your AC. This information can come in handy in the future if the cooling system malfunctions.

Where the Water in the AC Comes From

Living in Florida, you know all about moisture in the air, i.e. humidity. This moisture vapor is the source of the water you hear dripping inside the AC cabinet.

Here’s what happens: Cold refrigerant travels through the indoor coil of the air conditioner, which draws heat from the air as the refrigerant evaporates. This is the method an AC uses to cool the air. At the same time, evaporating refrigerant also causes moisture in the air to condense along the surface of the coil. It’s similar to what occurs when you take a can of cold liquid from the refrigerator on a hot day. In a few minutes, moisture droplets condense along its surface. That’s why you should always use a coaster! The same thing happens to the cold evaporator coil: moisture collects along its surface. And, yes, it has its own “coaster.”

Beneath the coil is a condensate pan, a shallow plastic pan that catches the water as it drips off the coil surface. This is where the sound of dripping water comes from. As water collects in the pan, a small pump draws it out through a drain and transports it along a line to the outside, where it drips onto the ground.

Possible Repair Issues

Just like any part of an air conditioning system, the condensate drainage can run into repair issues. It’s fine to hear water dripping in the AC, but you don’t want to see water dripping out of it and pooling on the floor. When you see anything like this, it’s time to call our technicians to look into the problem and solve it. If water is escaping from the AC, it will soon cause the system to shut down (you’ll see a blank screen on the thermostat) and can cause mold growth inside the AC that will create dirty sock syndrome. The water can also damage other parts of the HVAC system.

Water escaping the AC can mean there are cracks in the condensate pan, the drain has corroded and come loose, the pump has broken, or algal growth in the drain or drain line has created clogs. Trust our team to fix all these problems and get your AC working right!

Call The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc for fast repair service. Serving our Tampa Bay family with integrity and honor.

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