Water Leaking From Air Vent— What To Do?

Water leaking from air vents can be a significant problem for homeowners. This issue might occur in all types of homes, but it is more likely to happen in older homes with outdated heating and cooling systems. Whatever type of home you have, here's what experts recommend.

Here are the most common ways you can stop water leaking from your air vent:

  • Replace rusted drip pan.
  • Change your air filters regularly. 
  • Fix or unclog condensate line.
  • Defrost frozen evaporator coil.
  • Patch leaking refrigerant.
  • Add proper insulation around the ducts.

To understand what to do when air vents leak water, you need to understand the common causes and how air vents work. Hang on and keep reading as we talk about this topic in-depth.

Home Room Ceiling Ventilation. Modern Interior Air Vent, Water Leaking From Air Vent - What To Do?

Air Vents [How Do They Work]

Home Room Ceiling Ventilation. Modern Interior Air Vent

Air vents are an essential part of your home's HVAC system. They help maintain the air pressure in your home and filter out debris like dust, pet hair, and dander.

Air vents work by balancing the supply of air to your home with the amount of air that leaves it. Air enters your home through the supply ducts, then is sent to different rooms through the return ducts.

The air flows through several filters before it leaves your home again.

Common Reasons Water Leaks From Air Vents

Framed home installation of air conditioner and heating ductwork in ceiling a new home HVAC

A water leak from the air vent is a primary concern for many homeowners. When a water leak occurs, it can cause significant damage to your home, leaving you with an expensive repair bill.

The most common places for a water leak to occur are in the living room or kitchen, but you should also be wary of any other areas in your home that are prone to leaks. Here are the common reasons water can leak from an air vent.

Rusted Drip/Drain Pans

A drain pan is a metal or plastic tray placed underneath the air vent to collect dripping water. If there is no drain pan, the water will spill onto the floor.

A rusted drain pan might lead to a leaking air vent because there is no place for water dripping from the evaporation coil to be collected. The drain pan differs based on your unit, but the most common drain pan materials are here.

Galvanized Steel Drain Pan:

When installing an AC vent, it is important to take note of the drain pan material. A galvanized steel drain pan will last for 20 years and is an affordable solution, making it a good choice for those who want to save money.

Stainless Steel Drain Pan:

Stainless steel is a metal with high corrosion resistance. This means that it will not rust or corrode easily. It is more expensive than other metals but is also more durable and lasts for 25 years.

Polymer Drain Pan:

A polymer drain pan is a type of drain pan made of synthetic polymer material. This type of drain pan is often used in commercial areas where the drainage needs to be quick and easy to clean.

This is the best air vent drain pan can, and it lasts longer than other pans because it resists corrosion and microbes better.

Dirty Air Filters

Air vents are a common point for air to escape from the home. When water leaks, it is usually because the air vent filter is blocked. This can happen when there is a lot of dust and debris in the area, leading to a buildup of ice in the evaporation coil, which has caused water to drip.

Damaged Condensate Line

The condensate line is a pipe that runs from the roof of a building, through the walls, and into an air vent.

The pipe is used to transport water droplets from the roof to the air vent so that they can evaporate. If this pipe becomes damaged or clogged, water will drip out of an air vent.

Frozen Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil is a core component of every HVAC system. It is responsible for cooling and removing humidity from inside the home. Dirty air filters can cause ice to form on the evaporator coil, which will freeze up and drip as water.

Leaking Refrigerant

Refrigerant is a type of fluid used in HVAC systems to provide cooling. It can be found in air conditioning units, refrigerators, and freezers.

A leak in the refrigerant can cause the AC air vent to leak, leading to mold growth and musty smells.

Improper Insulation of Surrounding Ducts

Air ducts are ventilation systems that move heat from one house area to another. It is important to maintain them as they can accumulate condensation and drip water through the air vent.

If you notice any signs of water dripping from your air vent, it is best to have it fixed as soon as possible. This can lead to mold and other health issues in your home.

Add Proper Insulation Around Air Ducts

Insulation is a material used to make buildings and other structures more energy efficient. Insulation can also prevent heat or cold from escaping or entering the house.

Properly insulating the air ducts in your home can help avoid leaking water. Leaking water can be a significant problem, especially when you have wood flooring.

How To Stop Water Leaking From Air Vents

Cleaning condenser coil, Condensing unit, Maintaining the air conditioner concept

Here are the most common steps you should take if water leaks from your air vent.

Replace Rusted Drip Pan

Drain pans should be cleaned regularly and replaced when they become rusty or damaged inside to prevent leaks from occurring in your home's air vents.

Change Air Filters Regularly

Water leak from air vents is a common problem caused by many different reasons. The most common ones are dirty air filters, dust and debris blocking the airflow from the vent, and water freezing then dripping.

The first step to fixing this problem is to clean your air filter. You should also make sure that nothing is blocking the airflow path for your vents.

If you have a hard time figuring out what's causing the leak, you should call an HVAC professional to come to inspect your system. You might have to replace old filters entirely.

Fix or Unclog Condensate Line

If you can't find a solution to the problem of water dripping from your air vent, you may have a blocked condensate line. The condensate line is the pipe that carries water from your air conditioner to the outside.

If you have a clogged condensate line, it can cause water to drip from the air vent.

There are different ways to unclog this condensate line. The first is to use vinegar or shop vac and suck up the water. The other way is to consult an HVAC professional for proper cleaning.

Defrost Evaporator Coil

A frozen evaporator coil in an air vent can be difficult to see and cause major problems.

The ice in the evaporator coil will eventually melt and drip. However, if it is not melted soon enough, it will cause a blockage of airflow and make the air vent stop functioning. It might also form a pool of water below your vent.

The simplest way to melt ice on an evaporator coil is by using a hairdryer. Turn on the lowest setting of the hairdryer and blow it over the coil.

It is important to point out that you should never use an open flame as this could damage your home's wiring or gas lines.

Patch Leaking Refrigerant

Refrigerant poisoning is a serious health hazard and can even cause death. The risk of exposure to this toxic gas increases when the system is not properly maintained.

The symptoms of refrigerant poisoning might include a headache, nausea, vomiting, frostbite, fatigue, and visual disturbances.

Refrigerant poisoning can be caused by old, leaking refrigerants in an HVAC system. If the leaks are not fixed, they will start to emit toxic gases that the people inside the building can inhale.

An experienced technician should always be called when there are any signs of leaks in your air vent.

How Do I Stop Condensation in My Air Duct?

air condition vent in office ceiling close up

It is common for cold air to be blown out of an AC vent that is not properly insulated in the winter. This can lead to condensation forming on the inside of the vent, which can cause water percolation and mold growth.

The best way to prevent this is by wrapping an AC vent with foil insulation and foam insulation. This will help keep condensation from forming.

In Closing

Man's hands removing air duct cover from ceiling

Water leaks from air vents are a common HVAC issue. They usually happen when the drain line is clogged or blocked by the air vent filter.

If you are experiencing water leaks from your air vents, contact an HVAC technician to fix it for you to avoid further damage.

To read more about air vents, check out these related articles:

Water Flooded Into Floor Air VentWhat To Do? 

How to Stop Condensation on Air Vent

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