Learning About Furnaces

3 Problems to Fix in a Leaking Condensate Drain Pan

The condensate system in your AC air handler has evaporator coils that are vital to the cooling process. Those coils produce condensate that drips down into a drain pan to safely run out of the system through a drain pipe. If the condensate system encounters a problem, the drain pan can overflow and potentially cause water damage to the surrounding floor and unit.

There are a few different ways to fix a leaking condensate drain pan depending on the source of the problem. Call a HVAC contractor to perform the more difficult fixes.

Broken Condensate Pump

The water in the drain pan has to get to the drain pipe somehow. If your system is in the basement and the pan is tilted, gravity can take care of the job. Otherwise, your system likely has a condensate pump. The motorized pump pushes the water down to the drain pipe and out of your system.

If the condensate pump stops working, small amounts of water might still make it to the drain pipe but the drain pan will soon become overwhelmed with water. The excess water will spill over the edges and out into your home.

Clogged Drain Pipe

Does your system have the gravity setup but your water isn't draining? The drain pipe itself is likely clogged and preventing the water from leaving the pan. Clogs can occur due to a variety of factors and can occur quite far down the drain pipe.

If you suspect a clog, call in a plumber or a drain cleaning service to work on the pipe. Replace the pipe, if necessary, to ensure that your system drains properly so that you can avoid any long-term water damage.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

The evaporator coils are the origin of the condensate. The coils become cold while changing refrigerant into a gas and the temperature change produces the condensate. If the coils didn't become cold at all, you wouldn't have cold air in your house. But the coils can also become overly cold, freeze, and produce excess condensate that can make your drain pan overflow.

Freezing coils will also start to impact your system's cooling efficiency since the phase change will disrupt. So fixing a frozen coil problem will help more than just your drain pan leak.

Frozen coils usually trace back to a refrigerant issue; either the wrong refrigerant was loaded or the system needs a top off or recharge of its refrigerant supply. An HVAC contractor easily handles both of these problems.