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Problem: Air Handler Leaking Water in the Attic on to Ceiling.

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Problem: We had a brand new air conditioning unit installed about 9 months ago. The air handler is in the attic and about two months after installation, we saw water damage in the ceiling. When we went to look, we saw the location is where there is ductwork. Since it was not a major problem, we waited a couple of months before the guy returned to the area. When he stopped by, everything was dry, but he acknowledged the obvious leak and seemed puzzled by the next steps. He thinks maybe we need all new ductwork, not an inexpensive undertaking. The house is about 40 years old, but no idea if the ductwork is original.

Anyway, I wonder if when they installed the new unit, they somehow just loosened part of the ductwork causing the leak? I would like an expert to look at the problem and wonder what kind of expertise they should have. I welcome your feedback, recommendations, help.

Answer: Any ductwork that is installed in an attic must be either wrapped with insulation or you must use flex duct which is already insulated. If the metal anywhere on the ductwork is exposed to ambient air from the hot attic then it will cause the ductwork to sweat, leak and cause damage in your attic. Please make sure all ductwork is insulated. If you do not have enough ductwork and if the ductwork is too small it can cause the temperature inside the ductwork to get real cold and cause sweating. The air handler itself should have a secondary drain pan installed under the air handler in case if the air handler leaks then the secondary drain pan will catch the condensate and take it to another drain. It is code in many states to have a secondary drain pan and secondary drain pan safety switch installed on all attic air handlers and furnaces. The secondary drain pan safety switch cuts off the air conditioner if the water level gets too high in the secondary drain pan so it does not cause water damage to your home. Below we have a real good YouTube video made by AC Service Tech LLC that explains how to install an air conditioner secondary drain pan switch. Please click here if you would like to see the Hartell secondary drain pan switch that we sell. If you do not see anything obvious then I would recommend getting a licensed contractor to figure out what size ductwork you need and how many outlets registers you need. If you have any questions please email us anytime. Our email address is We would love to help you out and earn your business!

2 thoughts on “Problem: Air Handler Leaking Water in the Attic on to Ceiling.

  1. My air handler is not in the ceiling but i have a leak from the ceiling. There is a round installation above my air handler going into the ceiling? What do i do?

    1. Hi Benny! More than likely you have a duct that is exposed to the hot attic air and it is condensing and causing water to form and drip down from your ceiling. I have been in restaurants where water was dripping down on our table from the cold duct work above. Not good, we asked to be moved from that table! The cure for this is to insulate the duct work. Hope you are able to get into the ceiling and insulate the duct work that is condensing and leaking.

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