Window air conditioning repair near me

How to identify and repair a leak on a home air conditioner?

To cope with the multiplication of heat waves and increasingly hot summers, many Usa people have an air conditioning system installed at home or invest in a mobile air conditioner. It is not uncommon for these devices to let out a few drops of water or even more. Most of the time, this problem is benign and can be solved without calling a technician whose trip can be charged at full price. To identify the origin of a leak on an air conditioner and make the repairs yourself, follow the guide!

Leak house air conditioning

published on 04/06/2021 | updated on 08/24/2022 | by Julien Reynaud

How does a home air conditioner work?

To understand why an air conditioner is leaking, you must first understand how it works.

This refrigerating device is designed to extract the internal heat of a housing and reject it to the outside. There are three main types of air conditioner, namely :

  • the mobile or monoblock air conditioner, consisting of a single unit connected to the outside by a sheath ;
  • the wall-mounted air conditioner, consisting of one or more internal units fixed to the wall, also called split, and a fixed unit placed outside the housing ;
  • the reversible air conditioner, also consisting of one or more internal units and an external unit capable of switching to heating mode in winter.

These different air conditioners work in the same way overall. A refrigerant fluid, or refrigerant, most often composed of hydrocarbons and / or a fluorinated gas, captures the calories from the ambient air and then transfers the accumulated heat to the outside via a heat exchanger. The refrigerant then drops back in temperature by being compressed in a condenser which accelerates the process to quickly cool the ambient air.

By capturing the indoor air to transfer its calories to the refrigerant liquid, the operation of an air conditioner causes the condensation of the moisture contained in the ambient air, a perfectly normal phenomenon. This condensation is manifested by the appearance of water droplets that accumulate at the heat exchanger. This condensation water falls by gravity into a recovery tank, also called a condensate tank.

Depending on the type of air conditioner, this condensate tray can then be :

  • manually emptied as soon as it is full ;
  • connected to an evacuation system to the outside of the housing ;
  • connected to the waste water discharge pipe.

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How to identify the origin of a leak on an air conditioner?

Most often, when a liquid flow is observed under an air conditioner, the latter comes from condensates, therefore water, resulting from the normal operation of the air conditioner. The leak is in this case harmless and probably simply due to a failure to drain the condensates.

More rarely, the observed leak may concern the refrigerant, which is more problematic due in particular to its potential toxicity. A leak of this fluid essential for air refrigeration can also lead to a malfunction or a total breakdown of the air conditioner.

Condensate leaks

As we said above, the normal operation of an air conditioner condenses the ambient air and produces water droplets, or condensates, which are collected in a tray and then evacuated.

The origin of a water leak under your air conditioner must therefore be sought in this condensate recovery and evacuation system. Find below the main causes of condensate leakage on a domestic air conditioner :

  • the condensate tank is full and overflowing, either because you have not emptied it when it must be manually emptied, or because its discharge is blocked or defective ;
  • the drain pipe is clogged with impurities, which causes the condensate tank to overflow ;
  • the condensate tank or the drain pipe is pierced ;
  • the lifting pump, which allows on some models to evacuate the water from the condensate tank more efficiently, no longer works.

Refrigerant leaks

More rarely, the presence of a liquid under your air conditioner may indicate a refrigerant leak. However, most of the fluids authorized today are found in the gaseous state in contact with ambient air. A refrigerant leak is therefore most often impossible to detect with the naked eye.

This type of problem is often due to a lack of tightness of the refrigerating circuit which must in principle be completely closed and impermeable. The heat exchanges between the refrigerant fluid and the ambient air are in fact always carried out indirectly via heat exchangers. The origins of a refrigerant leak are most often the consequence :

  • from a bad maintenance ;
  • of a maintenance defect ;
  • from the obsolescence of the device.

In any case, a fault in the refrigeration circuit causes a decrease in performance and an overconsumption of the air conditioner. These are the first signs that should alert you and make you make an appointment with a technician to inspect your device. The search for a refrigerant leak indeed requires very specific techniques and devices, namely :

  • an electronic detector to identify the presence of refrigerant gas in the ambient air ;
  • a foaming product to find the precise place through which the fluid escapes in gaseous form ;
  • the injection of a fluorescent product into the refrigerating circuit to make it possible to follow the flow.

The search for leaks and the replacement of the refrigerant are delicate operations that must imperatively be entrusted to a qualified professional, refrigeration or heating engineer.

Refrigerant leak: what are the risks for the occupants?

There are many types of refrigerants that can be used alone or as a mixture. Their toxicity or dangerousness is not systematic but most contribute to strengthening the greenhouse effect and attack the ozone layer. For these reasons, their use was strongly regulated by the Montreal Protocol in 1987. If the main risks related to refrigerants are environmental, their dispersion in the ambient air can however lead to health problems and increase the risk of explosion or fire.

How to fix a leaking air conditioner?

Let’s put aside the case of a leak of the refrigerant liquid which must imperatively be the subject of the intervention of a professional and cannot be solved by a do-it-yourselfer, even a savvy one.

As for condensate leaks, which are nothing more or less than water, it is possible under certain conditions to make the repairs yourself without going through a professional. However, for air conditioners benefiting from a maintenance contract, this type of repair is in principle included. If this is the case, do not hesitate to involve a technician.

If you want to make the repairs yourself or look for the origin of the leak before calling, if necessary, a professional, if possible, take with you the operating instructions of your device to save time. There you will be able to find the exact location of the condensate tank and the steps to follow to access it. Before any intervention, turn off the power supply.

To access the condensate tray, you must remove the plastic cover on the front of the device. This applies to wall splits and one-piece air conditioners. As for outdoor units, the condensate tray is often placed directly under the device holder. By contorting yourself a little, you will have to be able to access it without opening the outdoor unit.

Then proceed step by step to eliminate one by one the possible causes of leakage :

  • empty and clean the condensate tank using a sponge and a cleaning product, taking good care to remove all impurities that could clog the drain port ;
  • check that the latter, which connects the bin to the drain pipe, is not clogged. If this is the case, unclog it using, for example, an old toothbrush ;
  • then make sure that the water flows properly into the drain pipe and that the latter is not pierced. To do this, pour water into the tray and follow its path ;

At this stage, three scenarios can arise :

  • the water does not drain: the pipe is most likely clogged, you can try to unclog it using a ferret or by introducing a suitable solvent ;
  • the water is leaking: the pipe is pierced, you can make a temporary repair using a waterproof adhesive tape or even better replace it with a new pipe ;

Once you have carried out these checks and any repairs, reassemble the assembly, reposition the cover and start the air conditioner. If the leak persists, the problem may be caused by a general sealing defect or the malfunction of a part of the device. If this is the case, you will have no choice but to contact a repairman.

What is the impact of a leaking air conditioner on your electricity consumption?

It all depends on the nature of the leak. The consequences of a condensate leak or those of a refrigerant leak on the operation of an air conditioner and on its electricity consumption are indeed very different.

In case of condensate leakage

A condensate leak has in principle no impact on the normal operation of a domestic air conditioner and on its electricity consumption.

The runoff of water or the overflow of the condensate tank may possibly damage other elements of the air conditioner but this is unlikely since the most sensitive ones are placed in the upper part of the device. A prolonged leak over time can also promote the appearance of mold. But, here again, nothing that can directly threaten the performance of your device in the short or medium term.

In the event of a refrigerant leak

A leak of the refrigerant, on the other hand, immediately affects the operation of an air conditioner and causes an overconsumption of electricity.

To compensate for a loss of refrigerant fluid, the air conditioner will be forced to compress more of the fluid still present in the refrigeration circuit to reach the desired temperature. This oversollicitation of the refrigeration system has the consequence of significantly increasing the electricity consumption of the air conditioner.

How to reduce the risk of leakage on an air conditioner?

To reduce the risk of leakage, take care of the proper maintenance of your air conditioner, especially for monobloc systems that are not the subject of a maintenance contract. For this, it is very simple. Check the condition of the condensate tank regularly, clean it when necessary and do not wait for it to overflow to empty it if the evacuation is not done via a dedicated pipe.

For air conditioners displaying a power between 4 and 70 kW, Decree n ° 2020-912 of July 28, 2020 ofarticle R224-44 of the Environmental Code, makes it mandatory to subscribe to a maintenance contract providing for a check of the refrigeration circuit every 2 years. The device must also be checked for the first time within 2 years of its installation.

Generally, the companies ensuring the maintenance of air conditioners offer in addition to this mandatory control additional services, such as the cleaning of the filters but also that of the condensate evacuation system. This annual or biennial maintenance can be very useful to maintain the performance of the device over time and avoid leakage problems.

The average price of a maintenance contract for an air conditioner is around $ 150 including VAT / year, a significant sum but which remains much lower than the price of a one-time intervention.

Tenant or landlord: Who is responsible for the maintenance of an air conditioner?

In a rented accommodation, the tenant is responsible for maintaining the air conditioning system, unless otherwise specified in the lease. In the event of a leak on the air conditioner, if maintenance is involved, the tenant will have to assume responsibility for any damage. If a maintenance contract must be subscribed, it is also up to the tenant to take care of it.

How to reduce the electricity consumption related to the operation of your air conditioner?

In the middle of summer, the electricity consumption of an air conditioner in good condition and well maintained can represent up to more than 25% of the total energy bill of a home for a use of only 4 hours a day. Find below all our tips for choosing a good air conditioner and using it without blowing up the amount of your electricity bills.

  • give preference to a stationary air conditioner over a one-piece model. The latter consume up to 2.5 times more electricity for an unsatisfactory result because the extraction duct requires leaving a door or a window open to pass it to the outside ;
  • rely on the energy label to choose an energy-efficient device by favoring models displaying an energy class A +++, knowing that class A is the lowest allowed on the market for mobile air conditioners ;
  • do not set a setpoint temperature that is 5 to 7°C lower than the outside temperature so as not to put too much strain on your device ;
  • do not leave a door or window open when the air conditioner is running ;
  • properly maintain your appliance by regularly cleaning the filters, in particular to ensure good air circulation and optimal operation of the refrigeration system.

Finally, even without an air conditioner or with an air conditioner turned off, it is possible to keep a little freshness inside your home by following these few recommendations :

  • ventilate the rooms of your home in the morning to renew the air and lower its humidity level, which, when it is high, accentuates the feeling of warmth ;
  • keep windows and shutters closed during hot hours ;
  • install sunscreens on the facades of your home or plant trees in front of those facing south to create shade.

Change your supplier to lower your electricity bills

Even if well maintained, an air conditioner will still consume a significant amount of electricity. To reduce the amount of your bills, do not hesitate to change your supplier as all energy supply contracts are non-binding.

Some alternative suppliers offer offers with more attractive rates than those of the historical electricity supplier. To find the ones that match your profile and calculate in a few clicks the amount of savings that they could make you realize, use our comparison of electricity suppliers. This service is completely free of charge.

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