Where Is This Water Coming From?

Annison-Bitter Truck

Believe it or not, if your air conditioner is running like it’s supposed to, it will produce quite a bit of water. One of the ways it keeps your home comfortable is by pulling water vapor out of the air around you, a process known as dehumidifying. How much water you ask? In a humid climate like south Louisiana, your air conditioner can pull as much as 20 gallons of water out of the air in your home per day!

What does your system do with all of this water it creates? The answer is a simple one: inside your air handler, located beneath your evaporator coil is a drain pan which is connected a line known as your “condensation drain.” While most people don’t really pay attention to their condensation drain, it can quickly become an area of concern if not properly maintained.

So what’s causing the unit to overflow making water stains on my ceiling? There are really only a few causes that will create this problem, so we’ll start with the simplest reason and move to the most expensive.

A Clogged Drain Line

As we stated previously, your primary drain pan is located beneath your evaporator coil inside your indoor air handler. This simple part has one mission: catch the water that drips off your coils. Attached to this drain pan is a drain line which connects to your drain stack, creating an easy and safe path to remove the water from your home. Algae and fungi will grow in these lines over time if you don’t consistently maintain them, resulting in clogs.

It’s very simple to keep the line clean and free flowing; here’s how:

  • Locate the white, PVC drainpipe coming out of the unit in your attic
  • A short pipe should be sticking straight up from the drain line (with or without a cap)
  • Take the cap off (if necessary) and pour about 1-2 cups of commercial grade vinegar into the line

This simple process prevents algae and fungal growth in the line and can help prevent those pesky clogs. Include this as part of your monthly routine after changing out your air filter.

A Dirty Air Filter

Your indoor unit contains your evaporator coil—a metal coil which has cold, liquid refrigerant flowing through it. Your blower fan pulls air in from your home and then pushes it across the coil. The freezing cold refrigerant in the coil absorbs heat from the air, which cools it off before it’s sent back throughout the house.

If airflow is restricted by a dirty air filter, your evaporator coil will ice up, causing water to drip into the drain pan as it thaws. Another possible cause for icing is a restriction in the coil itself. An iced evaporator coil can cause your compressor to overheat, which causes your system to shut down and even damages your compressor itself.

The easiest solution? Simply change your air filter! Your air conditioner will run longer and more frequently during the hotter temperatures of summer, so you should change out you filter more often.

Cracked Secondary Overflow Drain Pan

If you take a quick look at the unit in your attic, you should see a steel pan sitting directly beneath it. This is your secondary drain pan, which is there to provide protection from a faulty primary drain pan. If your secondary pan is holding water and looks rusted, there is a good chance that your primary drain pan has developed some cracks or holes. These cracks or holes allow water to leak out, and water that leaks out but isn’t contained can cause damage to your home.

  • Using a wet/dry vacuum, suction the standing water out of your primary drain pan, or use a cup to bail the water into a bucket
  • Check your empty primary drain pan for cracks and holes
  • You can try to repair your pan with a sealant or call Bitter to change out your drain pan

A Bad Float Valve

Your secondary drain pan is there to catch water in the event your drain line clogs or the primary drain pan fails for whatever reason. Usually there is no drain line attached to the secondary pan, which means that if water continually drips without being stopped, the secondary pan will also eventually overflow, and that could mean considerable damage to your home.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, we install a float switch on the inside of your primary drain pan. When water rises to the level of the switch, it trips the switch and shuts down the AC system before the pan overflows. However, these switches do go bad after a while, and that could cause the drain pan to overflow. Replacing a bad float switch is a simple fix for a trained technician, so don’t hesitate to call us.

As you can see, dripping water could be an easy fix, but could also point to a more serious and complicated problem. Many of these issues can be avoided by joining our club membership and having your system cleaned and tuned twice a year. At Bitter Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., we make sure that your system is running properly and ready for the long and warm summer season. Whatever may be causing water to appear beneath your air conditioner, you can always count on Bitter to find and correct the problem quickly.

Let us diagnose your issue with your air conditioner today! Call Bitter Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. at (225) 500-2035 today.