Learning About Furnaces

Potential Condensate System Issues That Can Thwart Your AC Unit

The condensate system in a central air conditioner is located inside your home within the furnace's air handler. The condensate system starts at the evaporator coils that perform a phase change on liquid refrigerant and ends at a drain pipe that carries the produced condensate safely out of your home.

Problems in the condensate system can leave you with lower cooling efficiency and potential water damage. What are some of the potential problems in a condensate system – and how can a HVAC sales and repair service, such as Triad Heating & Cooling Inc, help?

Evaporator Coils

The evaporator coils receive liquid refrigerant that was produced in the outdoor condensing unit. During the phase change from liquid to gas, the coils become cold on the surface. A blower fan circulates your home's warm ambient air over those coils then pushes the cooled supply out your vents for your comfort.

Condensate forms on the coils during the cooling process. The condensate drips down into a drain pan at the bottom of the air handler. But lingering wetness on the coils can lead to dirt buildups that impair the phase change and can cost you cooling efficiency. You can clean grimy coils by turning off the power to your unit and then using a no-rinse foaming cleanser according to the package directions.

If the coils are clean but you're still losing efficiency, the problem might be in your refrigerant levels. Call an HVAC technician for a service call.

Condensate Pump or Drain Pipe

Do you have water leaking out around the bottom of your air handler? The drain pan might have overflowed. The overflow can happen due to the water having no way to escape or due to an overproduction of condensate.

The water in the drain pan needs to exit through the attached drain pipe and gets to the pipe either through a tilt and gravity or a motorized condensate pump. If your system has a pump and the pan isn't draining, you likely need a new pump. Gravity systems that aren't draining might have a clogged drain pipe. Call in a plumber for a drain cleaning.

If the drain pan seems to drain correctly but there's too much water coming down at once, the evaporator coils might freeze too much due to a refrigerant issue, which can produce that oversupply of refrigerant. Call an air conditioning services technician to make sure your system has the correct type of refrigerant and that the chemical doesn't need refilling.