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5 Common Reasons why Your AC Vents are Dripping

If your AC vents are dripping water, there is a problem. The problem either lies with your A/C’s air flow or an open window (or another source of outside air). The result of either issue can cause your registers, or more commonly known as air vents, to sweat. It would resemble a glass of ice-cold water on a hot day.

  1. Outside air source
  2. Dirty/wrong filter
  3. Dirty coil
  4. Clogged drain line
  5. Low on refrigerant

Outside Air

If you’re noticing condensation on your air vents, it could be some of the outdoor air coming in contact with your cold A/C vents. First; check your windows, doors, or any other source of outside air to ensure that this is not causing the problem. If this is the reason for your sweaty vents, then all you need to do is shut the door, window or whatever is bringing in the hot and humid air from outside into your nice cool house. Another source of outside air could be that the vents may not be sealed correctly to the attic. This is fairly easy to see, because there will be a small space between the ceiling and the vent box. There should not be any spaces between the two. If you happen to see that the vent is not sealed to your ceiling, you may use caulk to close up the small gaps. Just be sure the caulk is dry before setting your vent back into place.

Dirty filter or Coil

Clean Coil

Clean Coil

Dirty Coil

Dirty Coil

To determine if it’s an air flow problem there are a few things you can check on your own to see what may be causing the problem. First, check your filter. If your filter is dirty or you have the wrong type of filter, it could be restricting proper air flow. Either could be causing the condensation on your registers. If your filter doesn’t seem to be the problem then check your coil, if possible. Some coils are hard to get to for you to see if that is where the issue is. If you are able to see your coil take a good look at it to see if it is grimy. Dirty coils can also hinder your air flow also causing the same drippy outcome. See pictures to see what a clean coil vs. a dirty coil looks like.

Clogged Drain Line

Some homes have their air handlers in the attic. If this is the case in your scenario, it could be that your AC vents are dripping because of a clogged drain line. The moisture that is removed from the air has to be discarded from the living area. Typically, this is drained out of either a PVC or a polyethylene pipe. The constant moisture content in the pipe creates an excellent breeding ground for algae.  Sometimes the algae can build up to the point that it clogs the pipe. When this happens, the drain pan can overflow if there is not an overflow switch installed. When the water has nowhere to drain, it will flow down into the ductwork and out of the closest vents. A quick trick to try and clear a clogged drain line is to use a shop vacuum.  First locate the drain line outside your house. Then follow your vacuum manufacturer’s guide to enable vacuuming wet substances. Finally, place the nozzle on the end of the pipe and create the best seal you can with your hand. This may fix your leaking vents, but you will want to get a technician to install a float switch. They will also be able to employ preventative measures against another algae buildup. You could also sign up for a customer care plan, and the drain line would be checked twice a year.

Low on Refrigerant

Finally, your air conditioner could be low on refrigerant. A unit that is low on refrigerant is not able to remove the humidity as efficiently as it should. This can cause moisture to build up on the evaporator coil fins and freeze. When the ice melts, it can overfill a drain pan, causing the same result as a clogged drain line. A unit that is low on freon should be inspected in order to find the leak. Some leaks can be fixed, but if the freon leak is too severe, the whole air conditioner may need replaced.

If you have checked all of the areas mentioned above and are unable to establish why your AC vents are dripping on your own it may be time to call an HVAC specialist to further investigate the matter. Beahan’s Heat and Air is open 24/7 and ready to help you when you need it most.

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