If you think your home’s central A/C is just a cooling system, you’re missing a second essential function of an A/C, dehumidification. Both heat, energy and moisture are pulled from household air in order to provide comfortable home cooling, and all that moisture has to go someplace. The bad news is that removal of that moisture can cause A/C condensate drain problems. Fortunately, regular professional maintenance can prevent a leaky A/C unit.
A/C Condensation Drain Problems
- Overflow. Here’s how a correctly operating condensation drainage system should work. Water pulled from the air during home cooling drips from the evaporator coil into a pan under the coil, then flows to the household sewer pipe via a condensation drain line. That condensation collector can become an ideal environment for algae growth, which can collect in the pan and expand into the drain line. The consequent blockage can cause water to back up and flood areas around the air handler, damaging floors, carpeting and walls. Frequently, the homeowner doesn’t realize this is happening until it’s too late to prevent the damage.
- Drain trap issues. Most central air systems route condensation from the cooling process through a U-shaped trap in the drain line. The trap prevents gases and fumes in the sewer line from backing up through the condensation drain into the A/C equipment. If you smell unpleasant odors coming from air conditioning supply registers, that could mean a defective drain trap. An A/C technician or plumber should address this issue immediately.
- Mold growth. The damp, dark environment around the condensation drain system is a perfect breeding place for mold. In this location, the mold spores can easily infiltrate household air during A/C operation. This is a threat to the health of home occupants, especially those with allergies or respiratory issues. Mold and bacteria growth also can spread to the evaporator coil, restricting heat exchange.