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Are Your Air Registers Dripping or Leaking? 8 Causes & Their Fixes

inspecting a home heating and cooling vent

Spring is a happy time for most Canadians. We can let the stir-crazy kids (and pets) out to soak up some natural vitamin D and play.

For that matter, we can do the same ourselves! It sure feels good to throw open the windows on nice days to enjoy some fresh air while we work, cook and relax. 

But spring can also bring with it unexpected and unwelcome surprises, especially when it comes to HVAC systems and the air duct networks that support them. One of these surprises is air registers that begin to drip or leak.

In this article, learn about the different reasons air ducts retain moisture and the best way to fix this.

Are Your Air Ducts New, Old, or Somewhere In Between?

If you are living in new construction with a shiny new ducted HVAC system, you probably don’t have to worry about walking inside one day to see dripping air registers.

However, it is equally important to be aware of air duct hazards from the outset, because preventive, proactive inspections and maintenance can go a long way toward preventing you from ever having to repair these types of issues!

8 Reasons Your Air Registers Leak & How to Fix Them

These eight common reasons why air registers may suddenly begin to leak or drip are all quite fixable. The sooner you make the repairs, the less risk you bear of mould or mildew infestation.

1. Unsealed Air Registers or Air Vents

Over time, your air registers and exhaust vents can start to pull away from the surrounding drywall, wood or other material. This is part of the normal process of aging, especially as changing environmental conditions may cause warping, expansion or contraction.

But when you have leaking registers or vents, both air and water can easily escape. The easiest way to test for this is to simply place your hand near the register or vent and see whether you can feel air coming out the sides. 

If you see water dripping from the vents or registers, see if you can figure out exactly where it is leaking out – from the grate or around the sides.

How to fix it: Caulking can work wonders to keep air from leaking out the sides. But for leaking water, it is time to call in the HVAC pros.

2. Condensate Line Is Clogged

Clogged condensate lines are not an uncommon problem in the HVAC world today. After all, part of the benefit of indoor temperature control is humidity control. As your A/C unit pulls excess humidity from your indoor air, it may also pull in dirt, dust or debris.

Over time, this debris along with overgrowth of algae, mould or mildew can cause a blockage. 

How to fix it: Suction using a wet/dry vacuum is one way to clear a clogged condensate line. Then you can clean and flush it. You should also check for mould or mildew. Be sure to power off your HVAC system before you unclog the line, or call a pro.

3. HVAC Air Filter Needs to Be Changed

Changing your HVAC filter takes only minutes, but this also makes it all too easy to forget about. However, a clogged A/C filter can over time create a blocked condensate line and even back up into the blower motor and cause damage or an outage. 

Worst of all, if your air filter gets really dirty, it can cause a blockage to air flow and your air conditioner can literally freeze!

How to fix it: The best way to make sure you never forget to change your filter is to add a monthly event with alerts to your phone calendar. If your air conditioner has frozen up, you will need to thaw it out and dry the coils before you can use it again. If the blower motor has failed, it is time to call the pros

4. Refrigerant Is Leaking

Refrigerant is the “secret ingredient” that helps your HVAC system cool or heat your air. 

How to fix it: If you suspect a refrigerant leak, power down the system and call the pros. Refrigerant is a potent toxin and should not be handled or disposed of by anyone but a trained professional

5. Evaporator Coil Has Frozen

The most common reason the evaporator coil freezes is that the air filter gets so dirty your air conditioner can’t push the air through. This causes the A/C to freeze and, in turn, the coils.

How to fix it: If thawing out your unit and drying the coils, followed by changing the air filter, does not resolve the issue, you may need a pro's assistance.

6. Roof or Pipes Are Leaking

While not common, sometimes the source of the water dripping out of your ducts, registers or vents isn’t coming from your HVAC system at all, but from another source such as a plumbing or roofing leak.

How to fix it: If you have tried everything else and still can’t seem to stop the leak, it is time to talk to a plumbing or roofing specialist.

7. Sump/Condensate Pump Is Not Operational

When the sump or condensate pump fails, you can pretty much count on water backing up into your unit. 

How to fix it: Chances are good that what you need here is a new pump mechanism.

8. Duct Work Is Not Insulated or Sealed

Uninsulated duct work combined with ducting in uninsulated areas can naturally create condensate that then turns into moisture. As well, unsealed duct connection points can let in additional humid air that turns to condensate.

How to fix it: Insulating and sealing ducts should do it!

Get in Touch

Do you need help addressing suspected A/C leaks? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-549-4616.

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