Water Dripping from Air Conditioning Vent in the Ceiling or Wall

Your air conditioning unit shouldn’t be dripping water. It’s designed and installed in such a way that water should drip away from your home. It has a drip pan that helps prevent this issue.

Water dripping from air conditioning vent in the ceiling or wall is a huge problem to have. The water leak itself will cause problems. Imagine having to mop the floor every time you turn the AC on. Imagine sleeping or working with water dripping on your head or on your face.

There are several reasons as to why it’s leaking and we’ll help you make sense out of it. In this article, we’ll provide you with the most common reasons why the vent is leaking water. One of the main reasons is condensation and we’ll also help you understand what causes it so you can avoid it.

Of course, we’ll also provide you with solutions. You have to solve the problem ASAP because it can lead to water damage which can be bigger than you think. This is why you have to read on.

Why is My AC Vent Leaking Water?

The first question in your mind when you see a leak is probably, “Why is my AC vent leaking water?” Unfortunately for you, there are actually several reasons why:

  • The drain pipe is clogged.

It’s an important part of the system. Its main role is to filter the water. The drain pipe should be clear so that water will be able to pass through. However, it can get clogged as well as mold and mildew may grow. Dust and sludge can also lead to clogging.

Think of an artery. If it’s clogged, blood won’t be able to pass through. It’s the same thing here.

Just like how you should have regular check-ups to ensure your optimal health, you should also do regular maintenance to make sure that the drain pipe doesn’t get too clogged. Yes, it will get clogged eventually but regular check-ups will prevent this from happening.

A professional HVAC contractor will check the drain pipe for potential clogging. He will then flush it out. This task can help prevent leaking and best of all, it can prolong the life of your HVAC system.

  • The condensate pump is faulty.

Your HVAC system has a condensate pump also known as a sump pump. Its job is to flush out the water. This means that if it’s faulty, the water won’t be flushed out. It will accumulate and eventually leak.

This pump has a float switch that helps it determine when to turn on the pump. This part can get stuck because of scum buildup. If it sometimes work and sometimes doesn’t, you can clean this part with a bleach solution in order to remove the buildup.

If you can’t find the float switch, there’s a chance that it’s submerged in the water. Look around for a chain or cable and try to pull it up. Turn on the pump once you’ve pulled up the float switch to see if that does the trick.

If this doesn’t work, then there’s a real possibility that you need a new pump. In this case, it’s a good idea to reach out to a professional to replace the pump the right way.

  • The air filter is dirty.

As part of regular maintenance, you should also replace the air filter regularly. Naturally, dirt will build up in the air filter and once it gets too caked, the air flow will be restricted. Condensation will then form on the coils. It should drip into the drip pan but because the air filter is caked already, the condensation will freeze.

Unlike in a refrigerator, this frozen ice will soon melt. This will lead to the dripping.

How often should you change your filter? The higher the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating, the longer its lifespan. However, you should also consider the following:

  • How many people are staying in your home? You should also consider how often you have guests over.
  • Are there pets? Pet hair can shorten the lifespan of an air filter.
  • Are there smokers in your home?
  • Is there anyone in your home that suffers from allergies? If there is, then the air filter should always be optimal.
  • The drain pan is already decaying.

The drain pan will eventually decay. It can also rust. This is especially true if you live in a humid area. In this case, the condensation will leak out.

You can order a new drain pain and have it installed by a competent HVAC contractor.

  • The evaporator coil is frozen.

The problem is not on the fact that the evaporator coil is frozen itself. It’s when you turn off the system because that’s when the ice will melt. This will lead to condensation and eventually, leaks.

You can check if your evaporator coil is frozen by removing the filter. This allows you to look down so you can check if the evaporator coil is frozen.

If it is, you need to address the issue as to why it’s freezing. It’s best to contact a professional to determine what’s causing the freezing and solve it once and for all.

  • There’s a significant refrigerant leak.

You wouldn’t want the refrigerant to leak because that will lead to low levels. When this happens, the unit won’t be able to manage humidity well. This will lead to humidity staying inside the unit. This humidity will lead to water staying on the evaporating coils. The water will eventually freeze. Condensation comes next and therefore, it will leak.

Here are some signs that signify that your AC unit may be suffering from a leaking refrigerant:

  • The unit is leaking.
  • The air flow is significantly lower than what you’re used to.
  • The AC unit is blowing warmer air than the usual.

If you notice these signs or you’re suspecting a refrigerant leak, you should get in touch with a professional HVAC contractor. Don’t attempt to fix the problem yourself because exposing yourself to refrigerant can harm you.

  • There’s air escaping around the vent.

This is a very common cause and fortunately, an easy one to diagnose and fix. You just have to reach up and feel around the vents. Is there air escaping around the vent? If there’s water escaping other than through the grates, then you have to seal it.

The solution is to just apply caulk where the air is escaping to seal the leak.

  • The ducts are uninsulated and are causing the condensation.

Just like in most homes, there’s a good chance that your attic space has poor or non-existent insulation. This can be a problem if you’re running the ducts through this space. In this case, condensation will form and eventually leak.

skylight windows seen from the inside

The first thing to check is whether the ducts are insulated or not. Remove the grate so you can take a look at the duct. You should be able to see whether it’s wrapped with insulation or not.

It’s another easy fix if it’s not. You can buy insulation and wrap it around the ducts. Get fiberglass batts. R-11 works fine but you can also get R-13.

What Causes Condensation on Air Conditioner Vents?

As you can see from the list of reasons as to why it leaks, condensation is a major issue. Condensation in itself is a minor problem but it can lead to major problems like leaking. Leaking will of course lead to a lot of more serious issues.

To make matters worse, a lot of homeowners don’t even know that they’re dealing with this problem. They don’t know that it’s the cause of their leaking AC vent. This is especially true with homeowners living in an area where humidity is not really a problem.

How does condensation form? Here’s how it happens:

  • There’s humidity in the air.

You don’t see it, but there’s actually water in the air. It’s just a question of how much. Areas with low humidity are areas that don’t have a lot of water in the air. On the other hand, extremely humid areas have a lot of water in the air. That’s what humidity is. It’s a measure of how wet the air is. If the air is holding water at its max capacity, then humidity is at 100%.

  • The temperature of the air becomes lower than the dew point.

Dew point is basically the temperature of the atmosphere at which air saturates with water. For a better understanding, you have to know that there’s no specific amount as to how much water air can hold. It’s also dependent on pressure and more importantly temperature.

Dew will form once the temperature of the air becomes lower than the dew point.

  • Condensation will form.

This happens when the suspended water vapor in the air turns into liquid. It’s usually when the humid air gets in contact with a surface that’s cooler than the air. In the case of your AC, it’s usually when the humid air gets in contact with the duct.

The cold surface lowers the temperature of the air that touched it. The temperature then drops to a temperature lower than the dew point. The water vapor then turns into liquid.

To better understand, take a glass of cold water outside on a humid day. Soon, you’ll see condensation around the glass.

So how does this happen in the duct? The most common cause is inefficient insulation in the duct. This is especially true if it runs through the attic. If the duct isn’t insulated, then the humid air will get in contact with it. As explained, the humid air getting in contact with a cooler surface will lead to condensation.

Insulating it is the obvious solution because doing so will prevent the humid air from getting in contact with the cooler duct. Just make sure that it’s insulated properly because if not, then the warm and moisture-filled air can still find its way to the duct.

Another reason is simply too much humidity. If humidity is at 100%, it can easily lead to condensation as compared to humidity of just 20%. This is why generally speaking, an extremely humid place like Florida is more susceptible to this problem.

Is Condensation on Ductwork in the Basement or Crawl Space a Problem?

Yes, it’s a problem. It can be a very big problem so it’s logical to solve the problem right now. But how exactly is condensation on ductwork in the basement or crawl space a problem? It’s because it will lead to a lot of other problems. Here are some of them:

  • Compressed insulation

This can lead to a decrease in its R-value. Simply put, it won’t be as effective in insulation with a decreased R-value.

  • Condensation can lead to leaking

The leak will find its way to your ceiling. Its structure will be exposed to water damage. Rot is a realistic effect. Besides, water damage is never a good look.

  • Growth of mold and mildew.

Setting aside the fact that mold and mildew are ugly, you have to concern yourself with the potential health effects on you and your family. They can cause a wide variety of health issues. They grow because of the presence of moisture. Yes, including condensation.

This list shows you that yes, condensation is a problem – a big one at that.

How to Prevent Condensation in the Future

Is this something that you should simply accept? No, because you can prevent it from happening. The best way to solve it is by contacting a professional to update your ductwork. There are newer models in the market. Ask for a more modern one that comes with a built-on barrier against vapors.

If for some reason that’s out of the question, you can improve the insulation efficiency by simply wrapping insulation around your ductwork. This can be a DIY project if you’re an experienced DIYer. However, it’s always better to just hire a professional because wrapping insulation is almost an exact science. You’d want it to be snug, but not too snug, because you’ll lower its R-value if it’s too snug which kinds of defeats the purpose. On the other hand, wrapping it too loose is a waste of insulation because it’s not going to be effective.

It’s also a must that you seal the joints using tape specifically designed for an HVAC system. These joints are entry points so they must be sealed.

You should also add a barrier against vapor. Fortunately, there’s a wrap that has a main purpose of serving as a barrier against vapor. It’s a must that you cover every inch of the ductwork with at least a layer of the wrap. If needed, lift the duct that’s on the ground so you can wrap it completely.

You may also need to improve the ventilation in your attic. This is because poor ventilation will lead to the buildup of moisture. You should ask a trusted contractor to add more vents to increase the ventilation in the attic.

You can also invest on a dehumidifier to remove the excess moisture in the air inside your attic. It’s relatively cheap considering how it can help avoid leaking.

Get Free Quotes from Competing Contractors Using the Form on the Site

As you can see, there are steps that you can do to address the issue. This is especially true if you’re an experienced DIYer. But in most cases, it’s better to just hire a professional contractor especially if you can hire a trusted one that can do it for an irresistible deal.

The easiest way to find such a contractor is to get in touch with around 4 of the most trusted licensed contractors nearest you and ask them to send you their best itemized quote. This way, you can easily compare and choose the best one. Let them know that you’re shopping around for the best deal. It’s basically a way of telling them that you’ll be comparing their quote with their competitors’.

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This is actually a free service so that’s another reason for you to try it. How do you use it? You just have to complete the form that you see on this page with the basic details asked. These details will be used in order to find the best contractors for the task.

Send the completed form and you can expect the best quotes from around 4 of the best contractors in your area. They know that you’re receiving quotes from their competitors so they know that they should send their best deal if they want to be chosen.

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water coming from ceiling