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The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc. Blog

Why Do I Hear Running Water in My AC?


A common sound of a hot summer day is the occasional drip of water coming from a running air conditioning system. This sound is normal. As normal as the whirr of the fan blades and the hum of the compressor turning on and off. Your air conditioner doesn’t use water to cool the crisp and relaxing air sent around your house, but water is a byproduct of how the AC does its vital job.

In this post we’ll explain why the air conditioner is dripping water, which also explains some of the basic functions of the AC, as well as when dripping water may turn into a problem. If you do have troubles with a leaking air conditioner and need fast AC repairs in Tampa, FL, our skilled and speedy technicians are the people to call.

Water Condensate in the Air Conditioner

A central air conditioning system cools the air for a home by evaporating a chemical refrigerant in a set of coils. The refrigerant enters the indoor coils at a low temperature, around 40°F. The blower fan sends the warm air from the house across the coil, which causes the refrigerant to evaporate. This draws heat from the air and cools it down to the temperature needed for comfort in the house. But as the refrigerant evaporates, it also causes moisture to form along the coil. This moisture comes from the air.

You see this phenomenon all the time when you have a cold drink on a hot day. Moisture droplets form on the outside of the glass or the can—it’s why you should always use coasters! The same happens on the cold evaporator coil.

Where Does This Water Moisture Go?

Gravity takes care of this: the water moisture drips off the coils and falls. Below the coil is a shallow pan, the condensate pan, where the water collects. Drains in the pan remove the moisture with the help of a small pump. The water travels out a condensate line that either connects to the home’s wastewater system or exits to the outside through a PVC pipe. The water dripping off the coils and onto the pan is the noise you hear from the AC. Standard procedure, the air conditioner is doing its job.

How This Water Removal Might Go Wrong

The condensate system can encounter problems like any part of the AC. Two common problems that crop up are a cracked condensate pan and a clogged drain. The condensate drain is usually made from plastic, which can crack through age. It can also crack because of years of exposure to heat from the furnace (if the furnace is positioned below the air conditioner). You’ll need repairs to replace a cracked pan. The drain can become clogged because of algal growth, and this will cause the pan to overflow. A limit shuts off the AC in this case, which is a warning to call for repairs to clean the drain.

Other troubles include a drain coming loose or a broken condensate pump. If water is leaking from your AC unit, reach out to us for speedy air conditioning repair.

Call for the fast AC repairs you need! The A/C Guy of Tampa Bay Inc. serves our Tampa Bay family with integrity and honor.

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