Every air conditioner comes with an overflow drain pan which is usually located underneath the evaporator coil inside. This drain pan is responsible for catching the condensate formed due to the warm air getting in touch with the cold evaporator coils. The drain pipe takes this condensate through a PVC drain line and throws it outside.
This may seem like a basic process, but if not checked upon, this can damage your air conditioner and create a mess. An overflow of condensate can cause AC drainage issues and flow down to walls and floors. In usual cases, when an AC does not start, it is a cardinal rule to check the condensate drain line and the drain pan first.
How to Inspect AC Drain Pan and Condensate Drain Line?
This article aims to address this issue and inform you about the proper ways of how to access the condensate drain pan and how to inspect the AC drain pan and condensate drain line.
Step 1: Turn on the Air Conditioner
It is highly recommended that you turn on your air conditioner for thirty minutes before you start your inspection. This will give the air condition system the time to create enough amount of condensate and help you understand if the process is functioning correctly or not.
While you keep your AC on, we recommend you keep a close eye on the surroundings of the indoor unit of your AC. If you find the surrounding getting moist or damp, it may be an indication of problems in the AC drain pan or condensate drain line.
Step 2: Unplug the Air Conditioner and Remove the Access Panel
Once you get the idea about the way your AC drainage system is functioning, you need to turn off your AC and remove the access panel from the indoor unit. This is a precautionary step; this will ensure that there are very few if not no possibilities of electric accidents.
Once you remove the access panel, you will find two of the drain pans inside the system; one attached with the air handler, and the auxiliary one is located above that. We suggest you do not touch the permanent drain and let professionals deal with it as a small mistake here can cost you a lot.
Step 3: Inspect The Drain Pan and The Line
To inspect the drain pan and the condensate drain line, you will need a flashlight. In this step, you will need to use the flashlight to look closely at the drain pan and the line and to see if there is any damages, waste, or any external material hoarding up the line or the pan.
If found any form of obstacles in the pan or the line, that could be hampering the process, safely remove them. In some cases where the drain line is working in perfect order, the leaking water was caused by a crack on the drain pan.
Step 4: Testing The Drain Pan and The Line
For this step, you will need a gallon of water and a funnel to pour the water into the PVC cleanout tee. PVC cleanout tee is the small upright section of the line with a cap on. You will need to remove the cap, place the funnel and slowly pour the water. This will let you know if the drain mechanism is functioning properly.
If the water starts to back up or go down slowly, that may indicate clogging or blockage in the drain line. If the water goes down perfectly, that means your line and pan are functioning perfectly.
Step 5: Repair Minor Issues or Replace
As mentioned before, sometimes, a crack on the drain pan can cause water to leak. If the crack is comparatively small and something a bit touch up with glue can fix, use epoxy glue to plug the crack. That being said, if the crack is beyond what glue can repair, we suggest you replace it. Repairing it, in that case, will pile up a bigger problem in the far future.
Step 6: Clean The Drain Line
It is important to clean the drain lines with a small brush so that dirt, waste, or anything of that sort piles up in the line and clogs it. Another way of cleaning the line is by slowly pouring a cup of vinegar down the line in order to stop the microbes from growing in the line. The cup of vinegar will kill the microbes.
Bear in mind that it is important to clean the line on a regular basis to prevent any form of clogging. If left unchecked, it can lead to bigger problems.
Step 7: Restore
This last step depends on your satisfaction level with the state of the drain pan and the condensate line. Once the condensate line, auxiliary pan, and permanent pan are fixed, you need to restore the access panel the way it was before, keeping the air handler concealed.
Once everything is set, we suggest you power up the air conditioner and check if it is running properly or not.
Like every other home gadget in your house, an air conditioner requires maintenance. This maintenance should not be delayed until there is a big problem. Rather it should be a regular thing.
In the majority of cases, when air conditioners are not working properly, experts will suggest you inspect the AC drain pan and the condensate drain line. The process of inspection is pretty simple, yet it is usually forgotten or avoided as some might consider it to be a hassle.
However, this inspection process can help your air conditioner function in a better, healthier manner and save you a lot of money in the long run. That being said, if you feel like the process can be a bit too complicated for you, you can always get help from the servicing center of the manufacturers.