Here’s Why Your RV Air Conditioner Is Dripping Water

Are you having trouble with your air conditioner dripping water on the floor in your RV? Let's walk through 3 reasons as to why it may be happening and how to solve it.

So, you’ve noticed that your RV’s air conditioner is dripping water. And you’ve also probably worried that this dripping of water is a sign of a hard to resolve problem with your air conditioner.

An air conditioner that drips water is actually a pretty common occurrence with RV air conditioning units. While it generally isn’t an indication of a large problem, it can be a sign that your RV’s air conditioner could use a little TLC. Also, it’s important to know if the water you’re seeing is from the air conditioner itself or if the water leaking from your air conditioner is precipitation seeping through a bad seal.

Also, it is important to remember that your air conditioner will create condensation, and water during normal operations, so water is a normal part of the air conditioner working properly. Water and your air conditioner is only a problem when the water goes from being outside to dripping inside your RV.

Also read: How to Clean an RV Air Conditioner Filter

3 reasons why your RV air conditioner is dripping water

man changing filter in an rv air conditioner
Image credits: YouTube

There are really only three reasons why you might be seeing water drip from the air conditioner in your RV. And fortunately, all three of these problems are relatively easy to resolve with just a little bit of maintenance.

1. Your air conditioner drain pan isn’t draining

All air conditioners generate a bit of water, especially if they run a lot and you’re in an area that is hot with high humidity. When the warm humid air comes into contact with the cold coils of the AC unit, water condensation occurs. As water builds up, it drips off the coils and into a drain pan. The drain pan diverts water away from the air conditioner, and away off the RV to a place on the ground.

In many cases, the dripping air conditioner is caused by the drain pan getting too full because it is full of dirt or debris from traveling or from the coils as condensation drips off. Your RV air conditioner drain pan should steadily divert water away from the RV, but if you’re seeing the water drip down into your RV, this is a good place to start your trouble shooting.

Solution

As we mentioned, water is a standard by-product of running your air conditioner. So, all air conditioner units have a drain pan and a drainpipe. If your drain pan is full of junk, it won’t drain appropriately, so you’ll need to clean it, and most likely the coils of the unit as well. To do this, use the following steps:

  • Turn off the power to your air conditioner, and if possible, switch the breaker to off, for extra safety.
  • Climb onto the roof of your RV and locate the air conditioner unit.
  • Using a screwdriver, carefully remove the screws holding the outer cover of the air conditioner unit (or shroud).
  • Once you’ve removed the outer cover of the AC unit, you’ll likely find that the drain pan is located behind the evaporator cover. You’ll want to remove this cover as well.
  • Clean out the drain pan by scooping out as much of the debris as possible. You can use a damp sponge to wipe away any additional dirt or debris from the drain pan.
  • While you’re here, this is a good time to clean the evaporator coils. Use a gentle stream of water from a pitcher or hose to rinse dirt and debris from the coils.
  • After washing the coils, make sure to collect any debris in the drain pan so that it doesn’t continue to cause a clog.
  • Replace the evaporator cover and then the shroud of the unit.
  • Turn the breaker back on, and then turn the AC unit back on. 

2. The drainpipe is clogged

Also another good possibility if your RV air conditioner is dripping water into your RV is that the drain pipe from the drain pan is plugged. If you’ve cleaned out the drain pan, and you’re still noticing a leak, it’s time to check the drainpipe. 

If the drain pan of your RV was filled with dirt and debris, there is a good chance that something has worked its way down the drainpipe and gotten stuck. It’s very common for leaves, twigs, tree cotton, bugs and even small rocks to get stuck in the drainpipe for your RV air conditioner.

Solution

So, you’ve cleaned the drain pan and the coils and fired your AC back up, and it still has a drip. Now it’s time to check the drainpipe. The drainpipe runs from the drain pan out of the air conditioner unit and on to the roof of your RV. From here the water finds the most direct route off of the roof. If you’ve cleaned the drain pan, but are still getting a drip inside of the RV, you’ll want to head back up on the roof and check that the drainpipe isn’t plugged by something.

  • Once again, turn off the AC unit, and set the breaker to the off position.
  • Climb on to the roof of your RV and locate the AC unit.
  • Using a screwdriver, remove the shroud and the evaporator cover.
  • Pour out any water in the drain pan.
  • Gently remove the drainpipe from the drain pan and the lower shroud of the AC unit.
  • You can clean out the drainpipe using a bit of compressed air, a small, soft brush or a bit of running water.
  • If you can’t remove the plug, you may need to replace the drainpipe.
  • Replace the evaporator cover and shroud.
  • Turn the breaker back on and turn on the AC unit.

3. The gasket between the AC unit and the RV roof isn’t properly sealed

When your air conditioning unit was installed on your RV, a rubber gasket was placed between the AC unit and the roof of your RV. The purpose of this gasket is to keep water from leaking into your RV from around the AC unit. 

If you’re noticing the dripping water from your RV only when it’s raining and when the air conditioning isn’t running or hasn’t been running, a bad gasket is likely the cause of your mystery water.

Over time, these rubber gaskets can break down and start to fail. At some point, they just stop being soft and compressible, and become stiff and start to break. When this happens, the space between the AC unit and the RV roof becomes the perfect place for rainwater to pass into your RV.

Solution

If you’re only experiencing a drip from your AC unit when it’s raining, you’ll want to replace the gasket between the AC unit and the roof of your RV. This is a task you can do on your own, provided that you purchase the correct gasket from your local RV store. However, if done incorrectly, you can cause more problems for your air conditioner, and continued leaks from precipitation can damage the interior of your air conditioner.

Our recommendation for this repair is to take your RV to your local mechanic or repair facility and have them replace the gasket. This is work they do often, and they have the correct parts on hand.

How do you prevent a leaking RV air conditioner? 

A leaky RV air conditioner will eventually happen on every RV, but the frequency that it occurs can be greatly reduced with just a bit of good maintenance practices. If you properly care for your air conditioner on a regular basis, you shouldn’t have to worry about the drain pan or pipe getting clogged. Unfortunately, if you own your RV for a long time, you’ll probably have to replace the gasket at some point, but there’s not much you can do about that. Here are some tips for reducing the risk of your air conditioner dripping into your RV.

  • Take the time to inspect your RV air conditioner unit on a regular basis. If you’re using it year-round, this means at least quarterly. Getting on the roof of your RV is a good time to clean the drain pan and check for clogs in the drainpipe. 

You can also look at the gasket while you’re here and check the roof for any other cracks or damage that might cause a leak in another part of your RV.

  • If you’re going to be putting your RV in storage, or if you only use it during the summer months, make sure you cover the outside air conditioner unit. This will keep junk from finding its way into your air conditioner, and it keeps dust from settling on the evaporator coils. The best solution is to cover the AC unit and store your RV in a garage if possible.
  • Even if you don’t use your air conditioner often, it’s a good idea to run it from time to time. This will let you know that the unit is working properly and will keep it operating efficiently.  You don’t have to run it for a long time. A half-hour or hour every month will be enough to keep your RV air conditioner working and in tip-top shape.
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Jason Gass

When I'm not working, I spend most of my time camping, hiking, and road-tripping with my wife, my daughter, and my two dogs.