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What Does Water Coming from your Air Conditioning Outdoor Unit Mean?

Author Rod Marchant-Smith | Peninsula Air Conditioning

Newport resident, Jack asks

“We’ve noticed our air conditioning unit outside is leaking quite a bit of water. It’s leaking right across our driveway to the side of our home. Is this normal or would this indicate a problem?”

If you notice water coming out of your air conditioning system’s outdoor unit, it can certainly be concerning. It’s easy to think there may be something drastically wrong with it or it’s in need of immediate repair.  Typically that won’t be the case and there shouldn’t be too much to worry about. To understand where the water originates from, let’s take a step back and look at how an air conditioner cools the air.

With a ducted ‘split’ airconditioner you have an evaporator coil (which cools warm air that is blown over it), which is separated from the condenser. So you have two parts to the airconditioning system and copper pipes connecting them. In some bigger systems (such as those you find in shopping malls), you’ll find that it’s only one big package, which is why they’re called ‘package units’.

When warm air passes over the coil, moisture forms on it, and this drips into a drain pan and down a condensate drain line that leads out of your home. Why does this happen? Think of a split or a ducted system as heat exchange systems. One end gets hot; one end gets cold.

On the cold end, when warm air moves over it, it condensates, and the moisture is removed out of the air. This is part of the cooling process in an airconditioner.

As discussed, the system is designed with a condensate drain to take the condensated water away and place it in waste disposal. It could be a downpipe in the case of a ducted or a split system, and condensated water is channelled outside and deposited into a flower bed, for example.

However, with outdoor units, you’ll find a similar thing happening when you’re running the system in winter on the reverse cycle. This process causes the indoor unit to get warmer and the outdoor unit to get colder. Water will condensate on the outdoor unit, and it will drip down. This shouldn’t occur. When your system was installed, your technician should have installed a drain plug and some conduit to remove the liquid and dispose of it somewhere safe.

If your installer cut corners and didn’t install a drain plug and conduit, the condensation will drip out of the bottom of the condenser. This can cause slippery mould to grow on pathways or lead to staining. The moisture can also attract termites to your property if it isn’t disposed of correctly.

There are multiple reasons why water may drip inside your home from your aircon unit, but it is always down to condensation that is not being adequately drained when it comes to an outside leak. While the system’s actual operation will not be affected by the water, you want to address the situation to prevent damage to your property.

Got water leaking from your outdoor unit?

If you discover water coming out of your airconditioning unit, call PenAir to check that normal condensation is the cause. Our team will inspect the system, and if the drip can be resolved with a drain plug and conduit installation, we will provide you with a detailed quote. As a leading installer of airconditioners, we take pride in the quality of our work and excellent customer service. Give us a call, and let’s see how we can help you.

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