April 20, 2023

HVAC Leaks

HVAC Leaks can be varied since many things are considered “leaks” in an Air Conditioning or Heat Pump system. HVAC Leaks can refer to refrigerant leaks or water accumulations. Water leaks include drain issues, condensation leaks or drainpipe issues.

Refrigeration Leaks

Refrigeration HVAC leaks are caused when the refrigerant leaks from a refrigerant line, pipe, valve or coil typically. This can happen over time from:

  • Corrosion
  • Damage
  • Wear and Tear
  • High usage

Coil Leaking

Refrigeration does not leak from a healthy, well operating system, because refrigeration does not get used up. If the system is low on refrigerant, it is from a leak which from a defect or damage to the system. These can be a slow leak from a pinhole in a pipe, from a leak in a valve or from the coil. These leaks are normally only discovered when performing a maintenance inspection where the technician will discover a variance in the refrigerant pressure or when the system fails to cool the air properly.

Refrigeration- Source of Leaks

In order to find the source of the leak, a certified technician will need to perform a leak test. There are two leak checks a technician might use to find the source of the leak:

  • An Electronic Infrared Leak Detector, this is the least expensive method of testing, but will not be effective if the system is very low on refrigerant or where there can be many sources causing the leak
  • Nitrogen Pressure Test, this is a very reliable test under any circumstances, even if the system is flat (very little refrigerant in the system. It necessitates vacuuming any remaining refrigerant from the system and inserting Nitrogen to a high pressure so anywhere the system is leaking will be discovered.

In some cases, the leak may be repairable if it is a fitting or joint which can be sealed. Unfortunately, many of the leaks are not repairable and may require replacement of the offending part. This can be costly since it will also require proper recovery of any remaining refrigerant, flushing the system with Nitrogen, installing the new part and then recharging the system with refrigerant.

When it is an older system and uses R22 Freon refrigerant, it may require replacement of the system. R22 refrigerant was banned from manufacture in the United States in 2010 and banned from import to the United States since 2020 due to environmental concerns. It is no longer readily available from suppliers. R22 Refrigerant

Water Leaks

If HVAC Water leaks from your air conditioner it can cause significant damage to your floors, ceiling, furnishings, and more. Unchecked, it can lead to mold issues as well.

An Air Conditioner leak can be simple slow drips which accumulate or pouring water. Either are signs that your air conditioner leaks and needs attention.

Drainpipe Becomes Clogged

It is normal for your air conditioning system to produce water. Water is normally produced through condensation as your air is cooled and humidity collects. Normally this condensation is drained through a pipe to your drain pan and then to the outside.

Sometimes dirt and debris can collect and then clog up your drainpipe. When this happens, the water will become backed up and overflow. The drainpipe will need to be flushed. Sometimes you can do this with a shop vac or your HVAC specialist can do this for you.

Clogged Pipe

Make sure to change your air filters at least every three months or every month if you have pets or high traffic. This will prevent some of the debris from reaching your drainage line. A dirty air filter can decrease airflow, allow debris to pass and cause an air conditioner leak.

Condensate Pump is Not Working

Condensate Pump

Condensate pumps are used to mechanically expedite the flow of condensation (water from your system) to the drainage pipes. The pump can become clogged or damaged and will not facilitate the drainage as it is meant to do. Again leading to an air conditioner leak. Excessive moisture can lead to mold growth so this needs to be looked at by your HVAC Specialist before water damage occurs.

Condensation Drain Pan

Another cause of an air conditioner leak can be the drain pan. The drain pan sits underneath the unit and collects excess drainage. It can overflow if the drainpipes become clogged. It can also leak if there is a crack or joint split.

Drain Pan Clog

Your HVAC Specialist will be able to determine if it is a condensate pump, clogged pipes or some other drainage issue.

Frozen Evaporator Coil

A frozen evaporator coil can lead to an air conditioner leak as well. There are several things that can cause your evaporator coil to freeze up:

  • Obstructed or Insufficient Air Flow
  • Refrigerant Leak (low refrigerant)
  • Coil is dirty
  • Air Filter is Dirty

Frozen Coil

If you find the evaporator coil is frozen, you should turn off your system so it can defrost. It will need to be fully defrosted before a technician can determine the problem. This will need to be seen by a licensed HVAC technician to determine if there is a refrigerant leak or what is causing the freezing.


To help prevent an air conditioner leak, make sure you always have:

  • Adequate airflow to your HVAC equipment.
  • Change your air filters regularly.
  • Have annual maintenance inspections performed
  • Periodically check your drain pan and your indoor air conditioning unit to detect issues before a system floods.

Your Air Doctor Heating and Air Specialists are here to help you with any Air Conditioning leaks or any of your HVAC needs. Licensed in Md, WV, VA and PA! Proudly serving our communities in:

  • All Frederick County and Frederick, MD
  • All Washington County including Hagerstown, Boonsboro, Williamsport, Sharpsburg, Keedysville, Rohrersville, MD
  • All Jefferson County, WV
  • All Berkeley County, WV

Call or Text Air Doctor Heating and Air 301-799-7200 or Contact Us