In general, when you find water leaking from a pipe anywhere on your home or property, your first instinct is probably to call a plumber. Before you reach for the phone, however, you should understand that in some cases, pipes leak water intentionally! If you’ve noticed a pipe leading to the outside of your home that drips water, there’s a good chance that this is actually just your AC condensate drain, which is supposed to carry water outside your home.
Still, this isn’t always the case, and some pipe leaks do need to be investigated. By having a better idea of what’s normal versus what may be problematic, you can more confidently decide when it’s time to call for help (and who to call for the best service).
AC Condensate Drains vs. Pressure Relief Valves
Most homes here in the Phoenix area have two separate pipes leading out to the side or back of the residence. One pipe is an air conditioning condensate drain, also commonly referred to as an AC drain line. These pipes are usually white in color and are made from PVC piping.
Another pipe you may find on the outside of your home is a water pressure relief valve, also known as a PRV drain line. These pipes tend to be made out of copper and are designed to prevent water heaters from building up dangerous amounts of pressure.
By knowing what each of these common pipes look like, you can better determine whether a leak is normal or something you need to have looked into further.
When is Leaking Normal?
In general, it is normal to see water leaking out of an AC drain line; therefore, if you see water leaking from a PVC pipe on the side or back of your home, you probably don’t need to be concerned. AC drain lines are meant to drain water away that is produced by your home’s air conditioning system. During times of higher humidity, it is likely that there will be additional condensation generated. As a result, you may notice greater amounts of water draining from the PVC pipe during this time.
Water draining from this pipe is actually a good thing, and indicates that you don’t have any clogs in your AC’s drain lines.
Keep in mind that some Arizona homes will have AC systems with two drain lines; one is the main drain line as explained above, and the other is an emergency drain pipe that may be located towards the top of the home. If you see any water draining from your emergency line, this needs to be addressed as soon as possible because it likely indicates a clog somewhere else in the system.
When is Leaking a Problem?
While water leaking from an AC condensate line is generally normal, water leaks from a water heater’s pressure relief valve is not normal and needs to be looked into as soon as possible. This means that if you’re noticing large amounts of water coming from the copper pipe on the side or rear of your home, this could be the sign of a larger underlying problem.
If water is simply dripping out of this pipe at a slow pace, you may be able to tighten the valve yourself to resolve the problem. However, it is generally best not to attempt any major DIY repairs on a pressure relief valve, as this is an important safety feature on your home’s water heater.
Who to Call About a Pipe Leak
If you’re dealing with a troublesome pipe leak at your home, you may be wondering who to call for the repair. In general, an emergency AC condensate drain leak should be addressed and repaired by an HVAC professional. On the other hand, water heater PRV repairs should be handled by a plumber.
Even if you don’t have a problematic leak in your AC condensate drain, it’s still a good idea to have these drain lines blown out at least once a year. This will help to prevent clogs from forming and keep these lines clear of any debris. This is something that an HVAC professional can do, often as part of an annual inspection and tune-up service.
One Stop Heating & Cooling is Here to Help!
At One Stop Heating & Cooling, we’re proud to offer HVAC maintenance and repair services to customers in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. If you’re dealing with a leak in your emergency AC condensate line or are simply looking to schedule an annual tune-up to avoid these kinds of problems down the road, we have you covered with a wide range of HVAC services.
Contact our experienced and knowledgeable team at One Stop Heating & Cooling today to schedule your appointment. You can reach us 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling our office at (623) 688-6556, We look forward to serving you!