When you listen to your air conditioning system running, what are the typical sounds you hear?
- The whirring of the fan
- The hum of the compressor
- The whoosh of air through the ducts
- The drip of water from …?
Yes, let’s talk about that last one. You occasionally hear water dripping inside the air conditioner. That is normal—it’s part of the condensate drainage system of the air conditioner. Like any other part of the AC, it can malfunction and lead to problems requiring air conditioning repair in New Braunfels, TX. We’re going to take a look at what can happen when your cooling system isn’t getting rid of the water correctly.
Why There Is Water Dripping in the AC
An air conditioner doesn’t use water to cool down the air in a home. (Unless it’s a specific type of system called a swamp cooler.) It uses refrigerant. The cold refrigerant passing through the indoor coil of the AC evaporates to draw heat from the air, which cools the air for the house. But evaporation also causes moisture to condense from the air and form on the coil. This is similar to how dehumidifiers work, although the standard AC doesn’t pull out enough moisture to work as a dehumidifier. But there’s enough moisture to collect on the coil that it will start to drip off. That’s the sound you hear from the AC.
The Condensate Pan and Drain
Where does this water moisture go when it drips off the coil? Into a condensate pan placed below the coil. The water exits the shallow pan down a condensate drain, helped by a motorized pump. The water goes through a small pipe and is deposited outside.
The Clogged Drain and Overflowing Condensate Pan
The condensate drain can become blocked, much like a sink or shower drain. Small debris inside the AC can cause it, but the most common problem is the growth of algae in the drain. When this slows down drainage or blocks it, the shallow condensate pan will rapidly overflow.
When this occurs, it trips a limit switch in the air conditioner and shuts the system down. If your AC stops working abruptly and the screen on the thermostat goes blank, it’s probably because of this limit switch. Look to see if there is water dripping out of the indoor AC cabinet, then call for technicians. You’ll need professionals to detach the drain from the pan and clean out the drain.
The Broken Condensate Pump
The pump that pulls the water down the drain may also malfunction because of a burnt-out motor. This will create the same problem of water overflowing the pan. HVAC pros need to replace the broken pump with a new one.
The Loose Condensate Drain
Corrosion along the condensate system can lead to the drain breaking away from the condensate pan, which will allow water to drip right through the pan and out of the air conditioner. This won’t trip the limit switch, so it may be harder to detect at first. Keep a lookout for signs of water dripping out of the air conditioner cabinet and be ready to call our technicians for help.
Thayer Air Conditioning serves the Greater New Braunfels, TX Area. Schedule service—we’re already on our way!