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Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. Blog

Problems with the Condensate Drain in an Air Conditioner

If you listen to the indoor cabinet of your air conditioning system while it is operating this spring and summer, you will occasionally hear the sound of water dripping and then draining away. This happens because of the condensation of water vapor along the indoor coil during the evaporation stage. The moisture from the coil drips down into a shallow pan, and then a pump moves the water through a condensate drain and away from the air conditioner. This prevents the excess water moisture from overflowing out of the pan and entering your house where it can cause damage and raise humidity levels, or possibly harm the operation of other parts of your HVAC system. (If you have a furnace positioned below your AC, leaking can cause potentially harmful corrosion across the heater.) If you notice water leaking out of your air conditioner, or if you see water damage around the cabinet, call for repairs right away.

For fast and accurate work on air conditioning systems in Northern Virginia, contact the team at Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc.

What might go wrong with the condensate drain

The leading cause of leaking from the condensate pan is trouble that occurs with the drain or the drain line. There are two principle issues that can afflict the drain and lead to water leakage:

  • Organic clogging: Humid climates encourage the growth of a number of organisms that can clog or close off the condensate drain. These include mold, fungus, algae, and even small plants and weeds. (There’s also a small chance of non-organic debris, such as rocks and grit, entering the drain.) Even a slow drain will cause leaking to occur quickly because of how shallow the condensate pan is. To repair this, a technician will need to remove the pan from the unit, disconnect the drain, inspect it and the pipeline to find and remove the contamination using special wet/dry vacuum equipment.
  • Drain or drain line breaks: The drain might break off from the pan entirely, which will cause the water condensation to leak directly out of the pan. A break along the connection between the drain and the line will also start leaking. Usually, this problem will require a technician to completely replace the drain and/or line.

Water leaking from an AC is something you should stop as soon as you notice it—especially if you have a furnace beneath it. Although leaking will rarely harm the air conditioner itself, it will lead to damage to your house and discomfort from humidity. Don’t try to tamper with the drain line on your own. Call the Northern Virginia air conditioning specialists at Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc., and we’ll solve your troubles.

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