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Why is My Air Handler Leaking Water?

By October 30, 2020November 9th, 2020Air conditioner
Air handler leaking water

Air conditioners keep us cool in the warmer months and it is one of the appliances we don’t ever want to have repairs needed.  This is because we know it will be toasty in the home while we wait for a professional to help us. 

Imagine sitting in your living room and you are hearing water dripping.  You look around and it isn’t from your pet, it isn’t from the sink, and as you get closer to the air handler, the drips are louder.  Opening up the closet that holds the air handler, you see water everywhere! Why is my air handler leaking water? 

It can be several things such as a clogged condensate drain line, the drain pan is damaged or rusted, the condensate pump is broken, the air filter is not clean, or the refrigerant is low. Let’s take a look at why this is important, the first steps, and then 5 reasons why your air handler is leaking water.

Why Is It Important

Especially in the southern states, air conditioning is essential.  The warm weather and high humidity make it an important part of our home.  The unit is expensive and needs to be taken care of properly. If the home has unsolved water issues, mold can grow from this problem. It also may be that the unit is just sweating.

Reading the reasons below will help you find out what is going on with your air conditioner handler and help you DIY or call a professional.

What To Do If Your Air Handler Is Leaking Water

1.Turn off the A/C

If your air handler is leaking water, turn it off so that it does not continue to drip.  It may get toasty in the house, so plug in a fan or two to keep it cool.

2.Clean up the water

If it is just a little water, you can soak it up with a towel.  A lot of water will require a shop vac. Don’t put this off as you are damaging areas around the air handler as the water sits.

3. Take Care of The Issue or Call A Professional

You may opt to take care of leaking water yourself, which we have provided some reasons it may be leaking below.

If you are not handy or are unsure, you can always call a licensed HVAC technician.

Reasons Why Your Handler Is Leaking Water

Reason 1: The Condensate Drain Line is Clogged

This is the most common reason why the air handler is leaking water. Dirt, grime, mold, and sludge can build up in the line and cause it to clog.  You can DIY by using a wet/dry vac to unclog the drain so take a look at the video above. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you can call a professional for assistance.

Reason 2: Damaged Drain Pan or Rusted Drain Pan

When warm air comes in contact with the cooler evaporated coils, it causes condensation to form.  These droplets then fall into a drain pan.  The drain pan connects to the condensate drain line, which then allows the water to drain outside.

If the drain pan cracks, then it no longer protects the system from condensation and can severely damage the unit.  You can consult the manual for the air handler to see how to check the pan or call a professional.  If you call the professional, this will also allow him/her to check for damage inside the system.

Reason 3: Condensate Pump is Broken

This is a pump that takes the water out of the condensate pan.  Not all HVAC units have this so you can check the owners manual to see if yours does.

If your air handler is in a crawl space or the attic, you have a drain line that carries the water outside.  However, if you have a basement, you probably have a drain pan that the condensate pump pumps the water out.

The air filter is dirty
Change the air filter every 30-90 days and make sure nothing is blocking the vents

Reason 4: The Air Filter is Dirty

Air filters are a necessity in an air handler and play a big role.  If the air filter is dirty, it will not allow the air to flow over the evaporator coils and will cause it to freeze.  In fact, freezing is bad and as it melts, the water can flow over the drain pan. 

Change the air filter every 30-90 days, depending on if you have animals and smokers in the home.  Then, you may need to change it more often. Additionally, ensure there is no blocking of vents and registers. Also, a poor filter can lead to dust build-up on the coils which can clog your condensation line.

Reason 5: Refrigerant is low

Are you hearing a hissing or blowing sound from your air conditioner?  If yes, it could be your refrigerant is low or there is a leak.  Low refrigerant will cause low pressure in the air conditioning system and the air conditioner won’t cool well.

Refrigerant is low
Frozen evaporator coil

Furthermore, the evaporator coil will freeze, and then will melt and overflow the pan.  If it turns out to be a leak, hopefully repairing will work.  If not, purchasing a new system might be required.

You will need to call a professional to check freon/refrigerant levels and add more freon.


The air handler is located in of these places in the home: attic, basement, or crawl space.  No matter where it is, it serves the same purpose, which is cooling the home.  Did you notice water dripping from the air handler?  Hopefully, you take a look at the reasons above and try to DIY, if you feel comfortable. 

Keeping up with maintenance is important and you want to be able to enjoy the air conditioning year-round.

If you have any questions, be sure to comment below.

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