Yes. Most AC units work without water from plumbing. But people often ask whether AC units can run when water is turned off, partly because AC units tend to create moisture as a side effect of cooling. This piece will explain the relationship between air conditioners and water, and answer common questions about AC moisture.
Does Home AC Use Water?
Most home AC systems are not connected to water. These ACs use an air cooling system where hot air passes through the coils in the machine. The air is cooled using a refrigerant and passed into the house to provide a cooling effect or passed outside the house to bring a warming effect.
However, some large commercial AC systems are connected to plumbing systems. They tend to be too expensive for household use, but they actually are more energy efficient when they're running at scale.
A commercial AC system that uses water can consume up to 5 gallons of water per day. However, the water needs of AC systems vary depending on how often it is used and the energy balancing needs of the property in question.
Why Do Home AC Systems Leak Water?
The main reason why most people say that AC units use water is that they may leak water at times. One of the most common pieces of advice you will get from your AC maintenance company is to drain it once per month.
The constant build-up of water in the AC and the requirement to flush the system makes some people assume that it is connected to the water.
The main reason why an AC system that does not use water produces water is condensation. As hot air goes into the system, it is refrigerated and cooled. The water in the hot air is cooled and collected through your house plumbing without your knowledge.
However, from time to time the AC may leak or may need flushing to get rid of water.
If you are leaving your home for some time and you wish to turn some devices off, it is okay. You are free to turn off all electronics and even the water. You should never leave your water on when traveling.
However, leave the AC on since it plays a vital role in regulating the humidity and temperature indoors. If you turn it off you are likely to come back to a house full of mold and unwanted insects.
Even so, if you will be leaving the AC on, make sure you flush it first. If you do not flush your AC there is a chance that it may flood when you are away. This is a situation that can lead to water damage especially if you will be away for periods longer than a month.
How to Drain Your AC
Draining the AC is not a big issue. Start by turning off your AC and locate the condensation drain line. You will spot the condensation line easily since it is usually filled with moisture or water.
Find the access point to the drain line and flush it with distilled water or vinegar. Let the drain line sit for about 30 minutes so as to drain all the water inside. With that, you will have drained your AC.
AC Water FAQ
The idea of the AC giving out water fascinates many people, especially those who do not understand how AC works. As observed, there are AC systems that use water; the one in your home is less likely to be using water.
The AC in your home primarily operates on the principles of air cooling and condensation. While this topic addresses most of the common issues that cause ACs to produce water and why you do not need your water running to use AC, there are still many questions that have not been answered.
Below are some of the commonly asked questions in regards to the functioning of air conditioners and water. These questions should help you understand how your AC works much better and clear the air on how water gets into your AC.
Why Do Air Conditioners Produce Water?
Air conditioners that do not use water such as window AC and the central home AC produce water due to the cooling process involved. The water is needed to help cool the air while the rest is sent back to the unit
The water in the AC is purely condensed from moisture-loaded air that passes through it. During a hot and moist day, fresh air coming from the outside should be loaded with moisture.
The condenser captures this moisture, turning it into ice and water. The water then flows out of your AC, making it appear as if the AC is producing water or using water.
Do Window AC Units Produce Water?
Just like the central AC which condenses moisture into the water window AC units also condense moisture into water. While a window AC system might seem like a much smaller unit that should not produce water, it actually operates on the same principles as any other AC.
It draws hot air from outside cools and purifies it and pumps the cool air into the house. Through this process, moisture in the air is condensed and drained out like water.
With that said window ACs may produce less water than larger units. If the AC is serving just one room, you cannot expect it to produce as much water as a unit that serves an entire apartment. In other words, the amount of water an AC produces is directly proportional to the work it does.
Can You Drink Water from the AC?
Most traditional air conditioners came with a drainpipe, which should drain out the water. For a simple window AC, you can collect up to two gallons of water on a hot and moist day from the drain pipe. The amount of water collected can even be more if you collect from a central AC.
The water collected from the AC looks very clean and can be used for some purposes. However, since the AC also collects dirt and contaminants from the air outside, this water should never be used for drinking.
Ideally, the water could be collected for irrigating backyard plants. If you are keen on saving and recycling water, collecting AC water for such chores is one way of ensuring that we preserve it.
Why Is My Window AC Not Releasing Water?
There are several reasons that may cause your AC not to release water. If you are living in a locality where the air is very dry, chances are that there is not enough moisture in the air to be condensed. Without moisture, you should not expect your AC to give out much water.
The second reason could be that your AC is not positioned to drain well. If you are using the traditional old window AC with a drainpipe, make sure it is slightly tilted. This way, as the water accumulates it starts to drip out.
Lastly, chances are that you could be using a newer version of window AC. Most modern ACs do not come with drain pipes but rather have a drip pan. The pan is used to collect all the water that drips from the system until it attains a certain level.
When the water attains the required levels it is splashed by the fan back into the system to help with cooling while some may drip away.
With new AC models, you are less likely to see water coming out. You should not worry so much if your window AC is not producing water. However, if you are using a traditional AC that has been giving out water and it stops abruptly, you should be worried.
Why Is My AC Leaking Water?
There are many reasons why an AC may leak water. One of the causes may be that heavy stormwater got logged in the system. In such a situation, the water will be dripping out over time.
However, the water from a heavy storm should not last more than a few days. If your locality experienced a heavy storm of late, give your AC some time to see if the dripping will go away.
The other possible and the most common cause of AC leakages is a clogged condensation drain. The condensation drain is responsible for draining, out all the water that remains in the system after hot air is condensed.
When the drainpipe is clogged and cannot pass water, the water builds up and starts leaking through alternative routes. If your AC has been leaking for quite some time, try cleaning your condensation drain.
What Happens If AC Does Not Drain Water?
As mentioned, there are AC systems that should not be expected to drain out water. Most of the newer models of window ACs do not drain water out. This is because they do not have a drainpipe. On the contrary, they have a drain pan that holds the water and recycles it back to the system
The other reason why your AC may fail to drain is that it may have a clogged drainpipe. When the drainpipe is clogged, the water retained from the moisture will remain within the condenser. This is a big risk since the water will eventually turn into ice. Once the condenser gets chocked with ice, it becomes less efficient.
In simple terms, if your AC stops draining the water as it has been doing, you need to get it fixed. Stopping to drain may mean that it is blocked and may lead to inefficiency. Such matters should be solved faster.
Do All Air Conditioners Have a Drain Hole?
No, there are some AC systems that do not have drain holes. This is especially true with most modern AC systems that come with a drain pan. Most systems that have a drain pan drain their water to the pan.
The pan has a fan over it that blows the water back to the system once it reaches a certain level. The water propelled back to the system can be quite instrumental in cooling the air that is flowing in.
Where Is the Drip Pan on the Window AC Unit?
The drip pan on most systems is usually located at the base of the AC. For the central AC, the drip pan is located close to the condenser. If you can locate your condenser, you will find a drain pipe that drives water from the system to the drain pan.
On the units that do not have a drain pan, you will find a drain hole that comes out from beneath the air conditioner. In some units, the hole might be too small that it is hard to view unless you observe carefully.
What Happens If My Drain Pan Is Broken?
If the drain pan is broken, which happens after some years of use, you should expect leakages. Leakages that emanate from your AC may be a result of a broken drain pan. The drain pan could be replaced or repaired if it is causing leaks in your home.