Our HVAC systems consist of multiple components with very specific functions. When any one of these parts is faulty or stops working, it can compromise the entire heating or cooling process. Read on to learn more about your unit’s condensate pump, and what to do if it stops working.
Looking for Duncan air conditioning services? Give the pros at Dial One Johnson Plumbing, Cooling and Heating a call at (972) 388-3310 or visit us online today.
What is a Condensate Pump?
It may seem like our HVAC units produce and blow out cold air, but they really work by removing heat and humidity from the air inside of your home. During this process, condensation tends to collect on the condenser coils in your indoor air handler. This condensation drips down and collects in your unit’s condensate pump.
Once the water level in a condensate pump reaches a certain level, a float inside the pump triggers a float switch. This kicks the pump into action, making it work to drain the water to the outside of your home. These components may collect dust, dirt and other types of debris over time, potentially clogging up the system. A clog can cause several issues, including preventing the unit from triggering the float switch, or making it impossible for the water to drain. There’s also the matter of regular wear and tear, which can cause components to malfunction over time.
If water cannot drain efficiently, it may back up into the system’s overflow drain pan. While this provides an extra measure of precaution, the overflow drain pan will eventually… well, overflow. Once this happens, water may leak into your indoor air handler cabinet, where it can cause damage like rot, mold growth or damage to other components.
How to Fix a Broken Condensate Pump
Depending on the exact issue at play, homeowners may be able to fix condensate pump problems themselves. Let’s look at some basic troubleshooting tips.
Check the Power Source
The condensate pump requires electricity to operate. A good first step when troubleshooting a broken pump is to ensure it is getting power. Be sure to check that the pump’s power switch is set to “ON” and that the wire connecting the condensate pump is connected to an outlet. If all seems well here, check for a tripped circuit breaker.
Test the Microswitch
If your condensate pump’s water reservoir is overflowing, it could indicate that either the microswitch for the main float has failed to activate, or the microswitch that is supposed to kick the pump’s motor into action has failed to activate. With caution not to touch nearby connections, use a long plastic or rubber object to gently tap the main float’s microswitch on and see if this activates the pump. In some cases, a light tap can fix a faulty switch, essentially getting it “unstuck.”
Inspect the Float
When dirt, debris or pollutants like algae build up inside of a condensate pump, it can cause the main float to become stuck. This may cause the pump to simply shut down. If you notice that the unit’s main float appears to be stuck, give it a gentle tap to free it. Be sure to inspect it for damage, like cracks, and clean or replace the float if necessary. Homeowners can also empty and clean the pump’s reservoir.
Check for Clogs
Your HVAC unit has a condensate drain line, which is the section of tubing that carries water to the outside. As dirt and debris infiltrate the drain line, clogs can form and prevent water from draining, leading to backups and potential water leaks. Homeowners can check for clogs by adding water to one of the holes at the top of the condensate pump to make it work. It’s important to ensure the pump does not run without any water in the reservoir, as this can cause damage. If you can physically see water moving through the drain line without backing up, then you probably don’t have to worry about a clog.
If the drain line does appear to be clogged, homeowners can use a wet/dry vac to suction the clog out, or try using a funnel to flush the drain line out with warm water. Stubborn clogs may be dissolved by using a funnel to add up to one cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar to the drain line in small amounts. Allow this solution to work for about 15 mins before flushing with warm water.
Clean Condensate Pump Valves
Algae and other forms of debris can build up around the valves in your unit, preventing them from working properly. Luckily, this is an easy fix. Simply remove the drain line, take out the valve to clean it and replace it again. Ideally, this should get water flowing again.
Clean the Condensate Pump
A condensate pump that has fallen victim to algae or mold growth will need to be cleaned thoroughly. Be sure to completely turn the power off both at the pump and for the HVAC system itself, then wash the pump with dish soap and warm water, removing any old water from the pump and its reservoir. The wet conditions of a condensate pump make it an ideal breeding ground for algae and mold, so this process needs to be repeated every few months to maintain a clean, functional system.
Annual HVAC tune-ups by a Duncan air conditioning professional can help prevent condensate pump problems. Each visit from an air conditioning repair professional ensures your unit is cleaned and inspected for loose or damaged parts on a regular basis. See our Advantage Plan for more information on our HVAC maintenance services.
Best Air Conditioning Repair in Duncanville, TX
If you’re ready to skip the troubleshooting and call in a fully trained, licensed and insured HVAC technician to repair your condensate pump, give us a call at (972) 388-3310 or visit us online for more information.
Dial One Johnson Plumbing, Heating and Cooling proudly serves Duncanville, Grand Prairie, Desoto and the surrounding metro Dallas areas. Our customers receive a 100% guarantee on all our workmanship, and we have flexible financing options available to help cover unexpected costs.