It’s the heat of summer or even the beginning of the season when you first turn on your air conditioner. Hopefully you’ve already had all the preventive maintenance checks done and there are no problems. Everything is working fine at least for now. Suddenly you notice water around the air conditioner and you know you have a problem. This problem is often referred as an air conditioner condensation water leak and often customers call an HVAC contractor and say their air conditioner is leaking water. This is not a unique problem and many people have dripping air conditioners during the season. Here are the likely reasons why your system is dripping water. Hopefully the AHU evaporator coil is not in an attic because you could be buying a ceiling unless precautions were taken.
Your AC has an evaporator coil. This evaporator coil is designed to operate below the dew point. Anything that is below the dew point will sweat. It’s like having an ice cold glass of ice water sitting on a table in the summer time. The ice water will sweat a small pool of water onto the table or coaster. The evaporator coil does the same thing. It sweats water from all the moisture in the air from your home. This moisture originates from the outside of the dwelling and it directly related to the humidity level of your geographic area. This is beneficial to you by dehumidifying the air which makes you feel cooler. All this condensate that is removed by your evaporator coil needs a place to go. Thus the reason you have a drain pan and drain line to drain the condensate which is produced by the evaporator coil.
Evaporator Coil Drain Pan and Drain Line
The evaporator coil drain pan and drain line are usually in dark moist places. Dark moist areas promote the growth of algae. Over time the algae can build up to the point where it clogs the drain line preventing water from draining. A simple solution to this problem is to treat the system with algae treatment or some people use Clorox. Take care in using chemicals including Clorox because many times the drain terminates into a flower bed or outside of the dwelling and not into a sanitary drain system like the municipal sewer system. A biannual treatment will in most cases prevent the evaporator coil drain from being clogged ever. Most air conditioner preventive maintenance plans from your local HVAC contractor include treating the condensation drain system with algae treatment tablets so you will not have to worry about a clogged drain.
Drain Line Plugs or Clogs
If your evaporator coil drain pan or drain line is clogged there are different methods contractors use to unclog the line. One way is to use a CO2 gun to blow the line. This CO2 gun uses little cartridges that provide high pressure to the line which will blow out the algae from the line allowing the water to drain. This should be done by an HVAC Contractor as sometimes the drain line needs to be cut and then redone after the line has been blown. Other methods to unclog the evaporator drain are to use high pressure nitrogen, a water hose, or a shop vacuum to suck the line out. Again, it is recommended that an HVAC technician perform the job of unclogging your drain line if it were to become clogged.
Why Hire and HVAC Contractor to Fix the Problem?
Because the technician brings experience to the job, experience that will be helpful in determining if the drain is actually the problem. It is likely that the drain line is clogged but it could be something else. For example; the HVAC unit may have a slow Freon or refrigerant loss. If this is the case the evaporator coil will freeze up because it will operate below freezing. All the moisture in the air will freeze to the coil. Eventually the ice will melt. Typically this melting overwhelms the drain and appears to be a clogged air conditioner drain line. There are other good reasons to hire an HVAC contractor to fix the problem but mainly you will have someone who is professional, identify the problem quickly, and make efficient repairs so you can enjoy worry free comfort for the rest of the season.