Why Do Air Conditioners Produce Water?


While it may seem counterintuitive for a cooling device to create moisture, this process actually plays a crucial role in ensuring your air conditioner runs efficiently and doesn’t cause any water damage in your home.

In this article, we’ll explore the science behind why air conditioners produce water and how this mechanism works to prevent leaks and optimize performance. Whether you’re a homeowner or an HVAC technician, understanding an AC unit’s inner workings can help you maintain and troubleshoot your cooling system more effectively.

Humidity in the Air

Higher temperatures and monsoons in the southwest frequently bring higher humidity during the summer months. One of the ways your air conditioner makes the air more comfortable is by removing some of this moisture, thus lowering humidity levels in your home.

How Air Conditioners Work

Air conditioners cool air through refrigeration. Inside the system are two sets of coils connected by a condenser. One of the coils is kept hot, the other cold. Chemicals inside the coils evaporate and condense repeatedly, cooling the coils. This, in turn, cools the air blowing over them. Cooled coils also force moisture out of the air; when the air condenses on the coils, it wrings water out the same way air condensing on a cold can of soda produces moisture on the sides.

Some of this water will re-evaporate and help to keep the coils cool. The rest of the water runs out of the back of the air conditioner.

Seeing your air conditioner produce water is a good sign that the AC unit works properly. If your air conditioner is not producing visible water, it could mean a problem — the water may be running somewhere it shouldn’t, or the water may be freezing into ice on the coils.

Leaking Air Conditioners

While all air conditioners produce water as part of the cooling process, this water is meant to run out of the back or a specific drain line. If the water is coming from somewhere else (e.g., pooling in your home), your air conditioner is leaking (and therefore not working properly).

Clogged Drain Lines

Your air conditioner needs to drain most of the water it produces. If the drain line is plugged or clogged, water will collect inside, resulting in problems such as leaks from seams or other areas of the AC system. If you notice your air conditioner leaking water indoors, unplug it and take a look at the drain line. Unplug the drain line and make sure it’s clear before turning it back on.

Ice Collection

When too much water is inside an air conditioner, the internal fans blow the excess water onto the unit’s cold coils. Over time, the coils can ice over, significantly affecting your air conditioner’s performance. When you turn an affected air conditioner off, and the air inside heats up, the ice melts and causes a puddle of water to appear beneath the air conditioner.

What to Do If Your Air Conditioner Leaks Water

If your air conditioner leaks water, fixing it can be as simple as cleaning the unit thoroughly or removing the drain line clog. However, in other cases, the help of a professional is required. If your AC is leaking water, keep the following tips in mind:

1. Turn your AC unit off

If you notice your air conditioner leaking water, immediately turn it off. Turning the unit off can help ensure you can avoid water damage from occurring and can help you safely determine the source of the leak.

2. Determine the source of the leak

After turning your air conditioner off, check the possible leak source. Some of the most common sources of water leaks include damaged evaporator coil, dirty air filter, clogged condensate drain line, and improper unit leveling.

3. Check the condensate drain line

A condensate line clogged with debris can cause your AC system to leak water. You can use a dry or wet vacuum to suction out the debris to fix the problem. You can also use a pipe cleaner to remove the blockage.

4. Check the air filter

If your AC’s air filter is dirty, it restricts airflow and causes the evaporator to freeze. When not attended to accordingly, this can lead to water leakage. Check if your air filter is dirty and replace it when necessary.

5. Check the evaporator coil for ice buildup

Your AC can also leak water if the evaporator coil is dirty or frozen. Check the evaporator coil for any ice or dirt buildup, and clean it thoroughly.

6. Check if the AC is leveled properly

If your air conditioner is not leveled accordingly, water can pool and leak from the unit. If your AC is not leveled properly, make the necessary adjustments.

7. Schedule a professional repair service

If any of the steps above won’t fix the AC leak, get a professional to help you. A licensed AC repair professional can easily diagnose the source of the problem and provide the best course of action to fix the problem for good.

The Dangers of an Air Conditioner Leaking Water

An air conditioner leaking water may seem like a minor inconvenience, but it can seriously harm your health and home. Let’s explore the potential hazards of a leaking AC unit:

  • System damage. Water leaks can cause damage to parts of your AC system, including the compressor and the electrical components. If left unattended, this can lead to costly repairs or system replacement.
  • Health risks. If molds grow in the moist environment caused by the water leak, they can pose health risks, including infections, allergies, and respiratory problems.
  • Reduced efficiency. When you have a leaking AC unit, expect the system to be less efficient. The air conditioner has to work more to cool your home, resulting in higher energy bills.
  • Electrical hazards. Electricity and water don’t mix well. Water leaking from your AC unit might create dangerous electrical hazards.

Understand Your Air Conditioner

Understanding why your air conditioning unit leaks water can help you maintain its performance and prevent potential damage. Learn more about how your air conditioner operates and what behaviors are normal during its use in order to make better decisions regarding its maintenance.

Ready to keep your air conditioner in top working condition and prevent water damage? Contact Precision Air at 602-349-6922 to schedule a comprehensive AC inspection and maintenance service today! Our NATE certified technicians can diagnose and repair any issues with your cooling system, ensuring efficient performance and reliable operation all season long.

Precision January 21, 2018

Share This Post:

erik - owner


We want to help you learn about about all things air conditioning and heating! Have any questions or want to see us write about something? Give us a call, chat, or email and we'll do our best to help you out.

  • APS Qualified Contractor
  • BBB Accredited Business Logo
  • SRP certified contractor
  • Arizona Healt Pump Council
  • Energy star logo
  • Electric League of Arizona
  • NATE Logo
Contact Us

Feel free to contact us any time at 602-349-6922 for immediate assistance.

We offer 24 hour emergency service, and would be happy to schedule an appointment for you, or simply answer any questions you may have.

Precision Air & Plumbing - Chandler AZ Map

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Service and Sales


General Information



Apply Online!

Schedule an Appointment 480-680-9740