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Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. Blog

What is the Condensate Pan in My Air Conditioner?

You know that your air conditioning gives you a cool place to escape the summer heat, but did you know it helps dehumidify as it cools? One of the parts that helps remove moisture from the air in your home is the condensate pan. So how does this part work?

To understand the purpose of the condensate pan, you must first know about the indoor components of your AC. An air conditioner cools your home by collecting the heat from indoors and releasing it outside. The indoor unit absorbs heat with the evaporator coil, which is located in the indoor unit of your AC system. Refrigerant reaches the evaporator as a cool, low-pressure liquid. The evaporator changes the liquid into a low-pressure gas, and heat is absorbed when household air blows across the evaporator coil.

These same components also collect moisture from inside your home via the process of condensation. Picture a glass of ice water on a hot day. The outside of the glass forms water droplets in the same way your evaporator does. Water from the air collects outside of the evaporator coil as the household air blows across the cool refrigerant line.

As condensation forms on the evaporator coil, it must drain quickly and continuously so that your system won’t overflow. Before draining, the condensation drips into a condensate pan. The condensate pan is a shallow tray located underneath the evaporator coil. Water collects in the tray before making its way into a hole that sends it through a drainage system.

Sometimes, you may run into problems with this particular portion of your AC unit. The condensate line may be blocked, which means water can’t drain and may overflow, damaging parts of your AC system. The condensate tray may also develop a hole, or there may be a leak in the condensate line that can cause water to leak onto the floor or within the air handler itself. If this happens, call a professional for air conditioning repair.

At Polar Bear Air Conditioning & Heating, we can answer any questions you have about air conditioning in Northern Virginia. For repair, maintenance, installation, and replacement, call us today!

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