What are the Symptoms of a Leaking Evaporator Coil?

South End Plumbing, Heating, & Air Expert Tips


What are the Symptoms of a Leaking Evaporator Coil?

Your AC system has a critical part in it called an evaporator coil. Most of the time, people can go years of living in their house and never see or care about the evaporator coil, until a leaking evaporator coil means no air condition – often times of course in July or August.

An evaporator coil can break down, or it can begin leaking and the leak can become worse over time. Recognizing the symptoms of a leaking evaporator coil can help you keep your AC system going and save you money. If you find the coil leaking cooling agent, it helps to know what to do or who to call next. You’ll probably notice a change in your AC while just sitting in your living room before seeing a leak.

An expert HVAC professional can fix an evaporator coil or any other problem and get your AC system working again.

What an Evaporator Coil Does

The evaporator coil is in the indoor part of an air conditioning system. It’s usually in a closet or attic, usually in a metal case, near the air handler. The coil is critical to a system’s heat transfer process and efficiency. The unit is the last part of the system air goes through – passing through refrigerant to cool – before going out into your home.

As air is circulated through the system, heat is extracted and moisture condenses. This is good because it dehumidifies the air in the home. Refrigerant gas in the evaporator coil cools the air just before it’s sent back into the house through ducts and vents.

Symptoms of a Leaking Evaporator Coil

For most homeowners or residents, noticing the symptoms of a problematic evaporator coil early and calling a professional technician are the best steps you can take. This is pretty unlikely to be a do-it-yourself fix. Letting the problem go on for months will only result in more repairs, and more expensive repairs, later.

  • An overflowing drip pan

    Your air conditioning unit has a drip pan for normal condensation drainage. As your unit runs, the evaporator coil makes condensation. It should drip into the pan. If your drip pan is full to the point of overflowing there could well be some concern with your system. Maybe an evaporator coil is leaking.

  • Cooling seems ineffective

    If the evaporator coil isn’t using the refrigerant efficiently, the whole system will run longer to make up for it. As the problem worsens, the system might not be able to cool the house to the temperature setting. You might also notice higher humidity. These could be signs of a refrigerant leak.

  • Weak airflow

    If your system doesn’t seem to be reacting like it should to thermostat changes you might have a leaking or damaged evaporator coil. When you turn on the AC or change the temperature, you should hear the system turn on and get constant cool air until it reaches the temperature. If the airflow is weak or the system in inconsistent it might need attention.

  • Warm air

    This is straightforward to tell. If you need cool air and get warm air, it’s likely the system has a serious leak or could be low on or out of coolant.

  • High energy bills

    If you suddenly get higher energy bills than ever before, it could be the system is working harder or running longer. The evaporator coil is one thing to check.

  • Odd noises

    One more symptom you might notice before anything else is a strange noise. There can be hissing, bubbling, creaking or banging noises.

Evaporator coils can become dirty. They can freeze, especially if the airflow into them becomes dirty or clogged and the refrigerated air is blocked until it freezes. They can also plain wear out, crack and be damaged over the years.

Symptoms of a Leaking Evaporator Coil
Symptoms of a Leaking Evaporator Coil

Preventative Steps

Nothing can keep evaporator coils or any parts of an HVAC system perfect forever. There are some steps to keep in mind to hopefully lengthen its use and save you money overall.

  • Change filters as recommended

You should replace all of the HVAC air filters in your house once a month. There are many good reasons this is a valuable idea for clean, circulating air.

  • Keep vents open and clear

It’s recommended you keep all HVAC vents open, even in rooms or on floors you’re not regularly using. Along with being open, vents should be unblocked, without any obstructions, lights, furniture, or plants in the way.

It’s often thought closing vents in unused rooms saves money. This isn’t correct. Circulation through a whole system helps it work effectively. If cooled air isn’t being run throughout the house, the air handler and evaporator coil get air back which is cooler than usual. This can cause frost and abnormal condensation.

  • Regular maintenance

It’s easy to forget or put off planned maintenance when everything’s fine. Professional expertise can keep everything fine, longer, and for less money in the long run. An HVAC technician will take care of important tasks such as replacing filters, cleaning coils and other detailed parts, and checking for small leaks.

When It’s Time for a New Evaporator Coil

If you think you’ve got a leaking evaporator coil, now you’re faced with the: Repair? or Replace? While other issues or parts with an HVAC system can be repaired and that makes sense, an evaporator coil problem is different.

A coil is intricate with tons of small parts. A replacement is often less expensive than a repair. Plus, factoring in a repair, especially if on an older part, could just be leading to a replacement anyway in the near future. When refrigerant leaks occur within the evaporator coil, replacement is normally the better alternative.

At South End Heating & Air we specialize in furnace repair, call us for a free consult. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help with your heating needs. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? give us a call 704-684-5339

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