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Why Is My Air Conditioner’s Drain Pan Full of Water?

So, something terrible happened that you don’t understand. After a long day of working, you came home to realize that your air conditioner was operating improperly. After giving your AC unit a quick inspection, you realize something that doesn’t look quite right: the HVAC drain pan is full of water.

What does this mean? What’s wrong? And most importantly, what should you do about it?

Read along, and we’ll explain what the AC drain pan is, some reasons for why the water might have pooled up in your drain pan, as well as what you can do about it.

 

What is an AC Drain Pan?

Your AC unit is a complicated appliance that’s designed to keep the air in your home cool. As it completes this process, moisture is released. Warm air makes contact with the cooling evaporator coils of your AC unit, resulting in drops of water falling from the coils. This is similar to the condensation you might see dripping on the outside of a glass holding ice water.

The AC drain pain is designed to catch these drips. It rests beneath your system’s evaporator coils in order to catch all the liquid that drops. Without this pan to catch the collecting moisture, water would drip onto your unit and cause unpredictable amounts of damage. Thankfully, the drain pan is directly connected to the condensation drain line so the water can be safely drained away from the system and out of your home by way of a nearby drain.

When everything is in full working order, your AC unit can run smoothly, the drain pan drains excess moisture out of your home, and nothing is negatively affected. That means that an AC drip pan full of water is a clear indicator that something has gone wrong.

 

Why is My HVAC Drain Pan Full of Water?

While drainage problems are one of the most common reasons your AC drain pan is full of water, there are actually several possible issues. Here are a few of them.

Drain Pipe Is Clogged 

A clogged condensate line can cause water to build up in the pan gradually until it is full or overflowing. Serious AC damage can occur when this happens, since it prevents the unit from performing optimally. This issue can also cause water damage or flooding. Serious repair costs can arise from this issue if it’s not corrected quickly. Typically, a drain pipe clog occurs due to lack of proper routine maintenance.

The Coil Is Frozen

Standing water in your AC drain pan can also occur due to a frozen evaporator coil. Frozen coils most likely occur due to a lack of system maintenance. If you aren’t getting your AC unit checked or tuned up regularly, or if you’re not implementing regular filter changes, then the coils could freeze.

Installed Incorrectly

Improper installation is always a possibility when issues with your AC unit occur. If a poorly trained technician or someone who was unlicensed installed or worked on your unit, then it’s possible for several maintenance issues to result.

Low Refrigerant Levels

Typically, low refrigerant levels are brought about by poor maintenance or a refrigerant leak. Always be sure to have your AC unit handled by a professional in order to prevent as many issues as possible and keep your unit in the best working condition.

 

How Do I Fix My AC Drain Pan Full of Water?

If you notice that your AC drip pan is full of water, you want to cut the power to your AC unit. Now you can safely check the tubing around your unit to look for any cracks, holes, or leaks in the drain line. If you see any of these issues, then you know your drain line must be replaced and that’s most likely the issue at hand.

Feel free to carefully remove the water from the drain pain with a wet/dry shop vacuum and then dispose of the excess water in a safe location. Remove any dirt, grime, or debris that might be in and around the drain to make sure the outlet isn’t blocked and water can drain easily.

Even with the water gone, you must be sure to address the heart of the issue. While you could clean out the condensate pipe and drain with a small wire brush, you should always consult an HVAC professional when handling big, complicated appliances like your AC unit. One mistake when re-installing a pipe could lead to your entire unit breaking down. So call in the team you trust most and get a licensed technician to fix your drainage issue.

Keep in mind that regular maintenance is the easiest way to prevent your drain pan from filling up with water.

 

Ready to Fix Your Drain Pan?

If you can’t figure out why your AC drain pan is full of water, trust the plumbing experts at John C. Flood. If you have any questions, give us a call at (703) 752-1266 or schedule service online.