Common Signs of a Malfunctioning Air-Conditioner Condensate-Drainage System

17 August 2016
 Categories: , Blog

When an air conditioner's refrigerant changes from a liquid to a gas, it absorbs heat. This process usually has a cooling effect on the warm air passing over the system's evaporator coils. It also causes moisture particles in the air to condense. Your air conditioner's condensate-drainage system is charged with getting rid of this water.

Given the damage that water can cause to the air-conditioning system and your home, early detection of a malfunctioning condensate-drainage system is important. The following are common signs of a condensate-drainage system that needs your immediate attention or the attention of an air-conditioning service.

Air-conditioner water leak

When you see water leaking from your air conditioner, chances are that it is finding it hard to get rid of the formed condensate. This may be because its condensate drain lines are clogged with dirt, because the condensate collector tray is undersized, or because sections of the drain line are sloped uphill. Any of these things is enough to cause the condensate to not only fill up the collector tray but also overflow onto the floor of your unit's housing. The collected water may thereafter flow out of the housing through gaps in the screws or at soldered joints, hence the water leaks.


There are times when the water that flows out of the condensate collector tray isn't enough to escape through gaps in the unit's body. In such cases, the moisture in the metallic housing of your unit will be enough to encourage rusting but not enough to cause air-conditioner water leaks. This makes a rusted air-conditioner unit container a reliable indication of condensate drainage problems which when not fixed on time could cause extensive property damage and mold growth around the home. It is for this reason that regularly unscrewing your unit's fasteners and checking for traces of rust is advisable.

Sewer smells

Bad odors can be a sign that there is a problem with the installation of the condensate drain lines. This is so especially if the bad odors seem to be coming from the supply vents of your air-conditioning system.

This is a problem that is common in homes which use the main home drain piping to get rid of the condensate. By simply connecting the condensate drain lines to the main drain piping, homeowners usually give the contents of the drain an easy way out. Any blockages that occur in the drains will therefore force sewer gases up the drain lines and into the air-conditioning system, which will then use its ducts to distribute this smell to every room in the home. This is a problem that is usually solved by installing a moisture trap between the condensate drain line and the main drain system. Rerouting the drain lines in such a way that they dump the condensate outside will also work so far as stopping bad odor attacks in your home is concerned.