My closet ceiling is leaking a brown liquid. Right above it is an air duct for my central air. I think the liquid is dirty or rusty water that has accumulated in the duct. I can hear it dripping inside the duct.

I live in a rented apartment so they will come check it out soon. I would like to know what I can do immediately to alleviate the problem. I have my A/C set to 75 °F-- the temperature outside reaches 90 °F most days. If I shut it off completely, will the leak dry up? Is there anything else I can do?

  • Are you sure there isn't a neighbor vent above yours? – DMoore May 26 '13 at 4:16
  • yes, i have an upstairs neighbors. i think the leak may be coming from there. i have stopped my AC and the leak seems to have slowed. i have also tried to use a handheld wetvac to soak up some of the liquid but i can't reach all of it. – Jeff May 26 '13 at 6:14

It sounds like you have a condensation draining problem. Air conditioners capture a lot of water from the air. Most of the time A/C water leaks are caused by a problem draining this condensation. Stopping the a/c will stop the condensation, and eventually (depending on how much water is backed-up) the unit will stop leaking.

  • thanks! would it make a difference if i just started keeping the AC at a higher temperature (e.g. 80F), or will i need to do some maintenance on the duct itself to fix it permanently? – Jeff May 26 '13 at 3:53
  • It depends on how bad the drainage problem is, probably won't make much of a difference, unfortunately. You just have to figure out why it's not draining. Sometimes the problem is that a pump has failed and water is overflowing a pan. If this is the case, you can manually drain the pan until the landlord fixes it. – Edwin May 26 '13 at 4:02

I think your neighbors AC is leaking. Making your apartment warmer is reducing the water because it is evaporating faster. I am guessing that this is near an outside wall and there is probably poor insulation - causing the warm/cool condensation.

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