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Mike Smith Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC Blog

Is a Dripping Sound from My Air Conditioner a Problem?


As we head into another hot Louisiana summer, it’s important to have an air conditioner that’s ready to perform under all that pressure. So you should always keep an eye (and an ear) out for any sign that your air conditioner needs repair. If you catch a problem early, you’ll be able to avoid an AC breakdown and a hot, sweaty wait for a technician.

Some signs of an AC problem are obvious: if it’s making a terrible grinding noise, stopping immediately every time it starts up, or simply not providing the cooling power you need, it’s very clear that you need repairs. But what if you’re less sure? A dripping sound from your air conditioner might cause you concern. Is it really a problem? What could be wrong? What should you do?

Two Possible Sources of an AC Dripping Sound

If there is a substance dripping within or out of your air conditioner, it’s almost certainly one of two things: water or refrigerant. If it’s water, you probably don’t have an issue that requires AC repair. If it’s refrigerant, you definitely do.

The refrigerant runs through coils, absorbing heat as it flows through your home and letting that heat dissipate when it flows outside. Because it is cold when it enters your home, the indoor coils accumulate condensation, like the moisture that gathers on the outside of an ice-cold beverage. This water is collected in the AC unit’s condensate pan and directed outside through a drainage line.

Refrigerant vs. Water Dripping

If you’re just hearing the sound of water dripping into the condensate pan, you should only hear it from time to time, not all the time when the air conditioner is running. You can see the condensate pan if you take off the front panel of your indoor unit, but never do this with the power to the unit on. If you’re not sure what to do, consult your owner’s manual or call us with questions.

You may see that the sound is simply drops falling from the evaporator coil into the condensate pan. On the other hand, you might note mold or algae clogging the drain, water overflowing from the pan, or corrosion allowing water to drip through the bottom of the pan. These issues definitely require repair.

If the sound is leaking refrigerant, there are likely to be other signs. You might also hear hissing or bubbling sounds coming from the coils. You might have poor AC performance, your home never getting quite cool enough, or you might notice that the air conditioner is running more and more of the time and driving your electric bill up. You might even have ice accumulate on the evaporator coils.

Note: When refrigerant is in its liquid form, air actually leaks into the refrigerant lines as opposed to refrigerant leaking out. This is what that bubbling sound is!

A refrigerant leak is caused by damage or deterioration to some part of the system of coils. This area can be repaired and the refrigerant refilled. It’s important to do that promptly, because when your air conditioner tries to run without enough refrigerant, it puts a lot of strain on the compressor. This vital, expensive component is not something you want to damage!

Reach out right away if you have any questions or need to schedule central AC repair in West Monroe, LA.

Contact Mike Smith Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC. We provide “Professional grade service.”

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