When it's hot and humid in the summer, your air conditioner does double duty. It removes both heat and humidity from your home so you stay cool and comfortable. The humidity is removed through the process of condensation on the evaporator coils. The condensation has to go somewhere or it will damage your floor or air handler.
That's why your air handler has a condensation drain system. Here's how condensation drainage works, what happens if it malfunctions, and how an air conditioning repair technician can get the condensation to drain again.
How Condensation Is Drained from the Air Handler
When condensation drips off of the evaporator coil, it lands in the condensation pan that rests under the coil. A drain is hooked up to the pan so water can flow in it and out the other side, which is usually outdoors, but it can also empty in a floor drain. The pan may have a float switch in it and a pump.
When the water gets full, the float switch triggers the pump to turn on. Some systems don't have a pump and they drain by gravity alone. The float switch can also trigger your air conditioner to shut down. This happens so the pan doesn't keep filling with water that flows on the floor.
When to Suspect a Problem with the Drain System
If your AC has shut down, and you can't figure out why, check the air handler to see if the condensation pan is full, as that could be the cause. Also, if you don't have a safety switch that turns your AC off, water might spill all over your floor. This can cause a musty odor in your home and even cause your floor to rot if the problem goes on long enough.
How an Air Conditioning Repair Technician Helps
A condensation pan overflows when the drain gets clogged with dust, algae, or other debris. Fixing the problem might be a matter of cleaning out the drain so the pan can empty. Another problem could be with the float switch. If it's bad, the air conditioning repair technician may have to replace it.
The repair technician will check the pan, drain, float switch, and pump if you have one to find the source of the problem. The float, drain, and pump can be replaced if necessary. However, the drain pan is often built as part of the evaporator coil system and it may not come out. So, if the pan develops a leak, the repair technician may need to patch it or figure out a solution so you don't have to replace the entire evaporator coil, which would be a costly repair.