What Causes Excessive Condensation from Air Conditioning?

July 31, 2023

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what causes excessive condensation from air conditioning

It's the middle of summer, and you've just turned on your air conditioner to get some relief from the heat. But as the cool air starts blowing, you notice water dripping from the vents and accumulating on the floor. Uh oh. That's not supposed to happen. 

Excessive condensation is a sign that something's not right with your AC system. So, what causes excessive condensation from air conditioning? It could be your unit is low on coolant levels, the air filters are dirty, or that it might be time to replace your outdated unit.

Here are 7 potential culprits behind the buildup of moisture.

1. Low Refrigerant Levels

Low refrigerant levels can occur slowly over time due to small leaks in the AC system or can happen suddenly if there is a major leak. Some signs that refrigerant levels are getting too low include:

  • Higher energy bills - With lower refrigerant levels, the AC unit has to work harder to try to cool the home, using more electricity.
  • System short cycling - The AC will turn on and off rapidly, not staying on long enough to cool the home properly. This is due to the refrigerant dropping too low while the system is running.
  • Lackluster cooling - If rooms are not getting as cool as they should, low refrigerant is likely the issue. The unit simply can't keep up with the heat without enough refrigerant.
  • Strange noises - Hissing, gurgling, or grinding noises coming from the AC unit are signs refrigerant may be leaking out.

Don't ignore signs of low refrigerant or leaks! Have an HVAC technician inspect the system and top off the refrigerant levels. A leak may need to be repaired to prevent recurrence of the issue. Monitoring refrigerant levels is key to preventing condensation and ensuring efficient operations.

2. Dirty Air Filter

When was the last time you changed your AC's air filter? A clogged, dirty filter restricts proper airflow through the system. This causes the evaporator coils to operate at colder temperatures than normal, resulting in extra condensation buildup. Changing the filter allows air to flow freely again and brings the coils back up to the proper temp. Take a minute to check your filter - a clean one can work wonders!

air filtration

3. Improper Drainage

An improper drainage setup is one of the most common reasons for overflowing condensation from AC systems. Here are some key problems to look out for:

  • Clogged drain lines - Debris, like mold, algae, and sediment, can slowly build up and block the drain line so water can't exit quickly. Annual cleaning helps avoid this.
  • Drain line installed at wrong angle - Drain lines need a downward slope to utilize gravity. If installed incorrectly on a flat or upward angle, drainage will be hindered.
  • Drain line clogs from algae growth - Slow draining allows moisture to collect and promote algae growth, which can further clog the line. Regular cleaning prevents this.
  • Drain pan cracks - If the drain pan underneath the evaporator coils cracks, water can spill out the sides rather than properly draining. Inspect for leaks.
  • Drain line incorrectly connected - Improper installation can mean the drain line doesn't connect to an appropriate condensate outlet, causing backup.

Taking steps to ensure clear, properly sloped drain lines are key to preventing condensation overflow. Consult HVAC manuals for drainage requirements specific to your system. Proper drainage setup makes all the difference!

4. Low-Temperature Setting

Don't crank your AC down to arctic temperatures! The colder you set your thermostat, the harder the system has to work to reach that temp. This strains the unit and results in extra cold evaporator coils that attract moisture. Set your thermostat at a reasonable level - somewhere between 68-72 degrees F is optimal. The system will remove humidity efficiently without being overburdened.

what causes excessive condensation from air conditioning

5. High Outdoor Humidity

When the humidity levels outside are high, it poses challenges for your air conditioner. Your AC unit works by pulling hot, humid air from your home into the system. It cools this air down to remove moisture, then pumps the now cool, dry air back into your rooms.

However, during periods of extreme humidity, the outdoor air is already saturated with moisture. This taxes your AC system as it now has to work extra hard to wring all that excess moisture from the air before cooling and recirculating it. The evaporator coils have to drop to very cold temperatures to sufficiently remove the high moisture content.

This strain on your AC from overly humid outdoor air can lead to ice buildup on the coils. It also results in much more condensation dripping from the unit. No matter how efficiently your AC operates, very humid external conditions decrease its ability to effectively lower indoor humidity levels.

Running a dehumidifier inside can help ease the burden by dealing with some of the humidity in the home. Keeping doors and windows closed also minimizes the amount of humid outdoor air coming inside. While at the mercy of Mother Nature, being aware of high humidity days and taking steps to reduce moisture can help keep your AC condensation troubles in check.


6. Unit Oversized For The Space

Having an AC unit that's too large for your space can cause problems beyond just condensation buildup. Here are some other effects of an oversized unit:

  • Short cycling - With extra capacity, the unit will cool the home quickly, then turn off until warm again. This frequent starting and stopping is hard on the compressor.
  • Uneven cooling - Oversized systems tend to cycle too quickly for consistent temperature distribution. Some rooms may get too cold while others remain warm.
  • Increased humidity - As mentioned, short run times don't properly dehumidify the air, leaving your home feeling clammy.
  • Higher utility costs - An oversized unit demands more energy to run its overpowered components. You pay more in electricity bills.
  • Premature system failure - Components like the compressor wear out more quickly from frequent starting and stopping.

When it's time to replace your AC system, make sure it's sized appropriately for your home's square footage. A unit that's too large causes inefficiency, higher costs, and potential repairs down the road. Right-sized = comfort for you and your wallet!

7. Unit Not Level

While a minor issue, an AC unit that is not level can contribute to condensation drainage problems. The coils may not drain properly, resulting in excess moisture. Make sure your outdoor AC compressor unit is installed on a level surface to help eliminate potential dripping issues. Proper leveling goes a long way!

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Wrapping Up This Breezy Blog Post

Excessive condensation cascading out of your air vents is an annoying problem, but fixing it is usually within your grasp. With some maintenance, adjustments, and troubleshooting of potential issues, you can get that dripping under control and enjoy cool comfort without the hassle. Just be sure to act promptly when you notice excess moisture so the situation doesn't get out of hand. A few simple solutions can take care of it and get your AC back in working order.

About 24/7 AC Repair Garland

Looking to install or replace your HVAC system? Perhaps you need emergency air conditioning repair. Whatever the case, you can count on 24/7 AC Repair Garland to lend a helping hand. We're timely, proficient, and fully licensed and insured. Please call us at (214) 206-4356 to get an estimate.

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