A standard central air conditioning unit has two main components — the exterior unit and the interior air handler. The air handler is equipped with a condensate pan, which is designed to catch the condensation that drains from the unit so that water damage doesn't affect your home. Sometimes, though , problems can lead to issues with this system.
Overflowing Drain Pan
Condensation that drips into the drain pan should be funneled to the drain and out of your home. Sometimes, though, the water won't drain and instead the pan overflows. If this happens often, water damage is a real risk. The cause is typically a clogged drain. Mold and algae may grow in the drain, eventually blocking it. A repair tech will clean out the drain and then use a bleach-based cleaner to kill any mold or algae spores that remain.
Damaged Drain Pan
Drain pans are durable, but they can become damaged as they age. Rust or corrosion can lead to leaks, or damage may occur that leaves the drain pan cracked. When this happens, water will leak out and collect around your air handler. There should never be any moisture around the unit that isn't confined to the pan. If you do find moisture on the floor, it's time to have the drain pan inspected and possibly replaced.
Broken Drain Line
Although drain pans do sometimes break, it's actually more likely that the drain line has broken. This issue will also result in water leaking around the air handler instead of staying within the drain pan. Most drain lines are made of flexible piping, so creases and cracks can easily occur if the piping gets bent the wrong way. Fortunately, drain lines are simple and inexpensive to replace.
Drain Line Clogs
Clogs within the drain line itself can cause the pan to overflow, similar to when the drain itself is clogged. Once again, mold and algae are the most common culprits, but sometimes mice or insects may nest inside the line and cause a blockage. Cleaning out the line or replacing it with a new line solves the problem.
Modern AC units often have a sensor inside the condensate pan. If the moisture builds up to the point of overflowing, then the system will shut down in order to prevent water damage. If your AC shuts down unexpectedly, check the condensate pan to see if there is standing water inside of it.
If you suspect that something is affecting the condensate system, contact an AC repair service like Bud's Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning & Electric promptly so you can have the problem fixed before damage occurs.