My central air has a drain line that drains into a drain in the
basement. The water/fluid is not coming from that drain. Besides
that, the outside unit has water around the base. I just noticed it
at sun down. I haven't noticed water there before. Can that be
normal or am I looking at a refrigerant leak?
A small amount of water at the condenser is normal in humid weather. The
refrigerant line heading into the house is insulated, but the
refrigerant lines inside the condenser unit are not and condensation
will form on the cold portions of those internal components and drip
down and run outside. In less humid weather there won't be enough to
make it outside the unit before it evaporates.
Check for a clog in the hose that comes from the AC to the drain.
It's quite common for a clog to form. Disconnect it from the AC and
try to blast a garden hose thru it. Lots more pressure will often
clean out the clog.
It's probably sweat on the return line from the evaporator still being
cool enough to cause condensation. As someone else said, the
refrigerant will evaporate if there is a leak, there might be a little
residual oil stain from the lubricant that is in with the refrigerant,
but not enough to drip.
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