Full, Rusty, Clogged HVAC Drip Pans

South End Plumbing, Heating, & Air Expert Tips

Rusty, clogged HVAC Drip Pan

Introduction to the Drain Pan


Even if you’re not an HVAC Technician, you know finding water somewhere it’s not supposed to be is not good. But, when it comes to your air conditioner’s drip pan, also known as the drain pan, the presence of water is perfectly normal… but only if it’s flowing out of the pan.

If you ever find your drip pan full of water, it usually means your drainpipe going outside of your house is clogged. When not taken care of, a clogged drainpipe can cause serious mechanical problems for your air conditioner as well as potential damage to your attic and ceiling. The good news is, the issue is usually an easy fix. Here’s more about what causes drip pans to fill with water and what you can do to help.

The Purpose of the Drip Pan

Before we talk about drain pans filling with water, it’s important to understand the role a drip pan plays within your air conditioner. Your AC system contains a drainpipe, which removes excess condensation from the evaporator coils. Before reaching the drainpipe, this water drips down into a drip pan. It then flows through the drain pipe, to the exterior of your home. In essence, your drip pan serves as a reservoir that carries water from the evaporator coil to the drainpipe. When clogged, the water will not be able to drain properly.

Why is my Drip Pan Filling with Water?

More common is a drain pipe clog that causes water to not drain. If something is blocking water from flowing through the drainpipe, it will back up into the drip pan. Due to moist conditions, water deposits, calcium, algae, and bacteria can easily clog a drainpipe. If too much build-up, a clog may occur. An overflowing drip pan could potentially damage other parts of your air conditioner or your home.

How Do You Fix It?

While a professional HVAC technician from South End Heating & Air will be glad to help, a clogged drainpipe can usually be fixed without professional help. If you feel comfortable giving it a shot, follow these steps.

1. First you must turn off the AC unit.

2. Then empty the drain pan using a wet/dry shop vac (you may also use a mop, sponge, and towels, with a bucket).

3. Remove debris and build-up from the drain and surrounding areas. Then check the end of the drain pipe, which is located outside your home, to see if anything is blocking it. Make sure it’s all clear.

4. remove the cap from the top of the drainpipe and use a small, wire brush to clear the clog.

5. When the pipe is clear, pour a cup of bleach into the drip pan and top of the drainpipe. This will help remove any algae or other growth you might have missed and prevent it from growing back. You can also use CLR to break up calcium deposits.

6. Now replace the cap and turn your air conditioner back on. If the problem continues, contact South End Heating & Air for a more thorough cleaning.

A Little Preventative Maintenance Goes a Long Way.

When you come home and your attic and ceiling is flooded, repairs can get costly. Schedule a preventative maintenance visit with South End Heating & Air today! In addition to making sure your drainpipe is clear, we’ll inspect each part of your air conditioner to make sure everything is running smoothly and is properly tuned. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

Call today and ask to speak to Eddie for a FREE Quote 704-684-5339.

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