6 Simple Tips to Avoid Water Damage from Air Conditioner Leaks

Candace Nelson
Written by Candace Nelson
Updated January 19, 2022
Woman drinking coffee and checking her phone
Photo: Edwin Tan / E+ / Getty Images

Your air conditioner is supposed to pull humidity from your house, not dump it all over the floor

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

In the hot, muggy days of summer, your AC unit is the one thing standing between you and all that heat and humidity outside. Typically your air conditioner safely drains outside, leaving you with nothing but a cool breeze. 

But sometimes things don’t work as they should, and that’s when you get condensation problems from your air conditioner. Here’s how to stop an AC condensation leak and prevent water damage.

1. Recognize the Signs of an Air Conditioner Line Leak

Air conditioner condensation line leaks frequently go unnoticed because they are inside walls and located in low-traffic areas. Unfortunately, the combination of high humidity and dark spaces around those lines can also make them prone to mold growth. As the mold grows, the HVAC system blows it throughout the home.

If your air conditioner is in an attic, you might notice watermarks on the ceiling or down a wall. In the basement, you might notice a damp carpet, a wet spot on the floor, or a mildew smell.

If you see any of these signs, it’s time to call in a local HVAC repair company to address the issue.

2. Inspect Your Air Conditioner Line

The most important thing you can do is to check your air conditioner regularly, as even a slight sign of condensation is a sign you may have a problem. A good rule of thumb is to check it every time you change your HVAC air filter, which should be about every month. 

First, check the AC condensation line for moisture. Then, in the months when your AC is running, make sure you see water flowing to the drain. The amount of water you see will depend on the humidity level in the house. An annual AC inspection can also catch problems and help extend the life of your unit.

3. Clean the Air Conditioner Line

Every three to six months, clean your AC line. If you have a wet-dry vacuum, you can clean the line fairly easily. Turn off your AC unit first and remove the drain pipe’s cap. Then, secure the nozzle of the wet-dry vacuum onto the end of the drain line using tape. Run the vacuum and then check the line to see if you have cleared the debris.

This step should be implemented along with regular maintenance from a pro. If you’re not into DIY cleaning, you can call an HVAC service company to take care of any intermittent cleanings too. Ideally, a pro would check your AC each spring.

4. Ensure the Air Conditioner Line Is Installed Properly

AC condensation lines should run straight with a drop of 1/8-inch for every 12 inches of length for the minimum pitch. If it has any 90-degree angle elbow connections, consider replacing them with 45-degree elbow connections to ease the flow. An HVAC pro can address any of these concerns for you.

5. Install Safety Switches

An HVAC servicing company can install safety switches that will turn off the unit if too much water pools up in the pan or backs up in the condensation line. This step could save you from extensive damage. If you have a switch installed, check it regularly and when addressing any issues with your AC unit.

6. Clean Up the Water if You Notice a Leak

Closeup of a yellow mop on a laminate floor
Photo: tommaso79 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

If you do notice a water leak of any kind, it’s time to take action rather than prevention. First, get to work mopping it up and identifying the cause. Mold can grow within 48 hours, and once it takes over, mold is tough to contain. It can also lead to allergic reactions and damage your carpet and floorboards.

So if you see water dripping from your AC line:

  • Contain as much as you can in a pan or bucket.

  • Use towels to mop up.

  • Use a wet vacuum to pull water from the carpet or furniture.

  • Set up fans and dehumidifiers or open windows to speed the drying process.

After addressing it yourself, it’s wise to call in a water damage restoration specialist near you who can help to ensure the damage is contained and repaired.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.