Condensate pumps are widely used in heating and cooling systems to ensure proper drainage in the system. During the cooling process, condensate, or water, is formed when air passes through the evaporator coil and drips down to the drain pan under the coil. Some HVAC systems would require a condensate pump to drain water out through a tube and into an outdoor or basement drain. A condensate pump has a float switch which activates the pump to drain water out of the pan when it reaches the set limit. When water is drained, the float switch turns the pump off. Condensate pumps also have tanks which can store up to one gallon of water. Some cooling systems have smaller pumps, so instead of having a tank, the condensate pump is placed directly on the drain pan where it pumps water out of the pan.

A condensate pump needs to work properly to prevent condensate from building up inside the HVAC system, otherwise, it may cause damage to the unit. Condensate pumps also prevent water from dripping to the floor which can ruin the surface or turn the area into a health and safety hazard. Regular maintenance checks must be done to inspect whether the condensate pump or any other part of the HVAC unit is in good condition. However, some issues may not occur during maintenance checks so it is important to be aware of the signs which may indicate that the condensate pump is not working properly.

Leakage

Water leaks inside the house is an obvious sign that a condensate pump may not be working. Leakage could be the result of any of the following:

    • Faulty float switch: The float switch monitors the water levels in the unit’s drain pan. If it is broken, then it wouldn’t be able to tell if the water level in the drain pan has gone too high. This may cause water in the drain pan to overflow and leak out of the unit.
    • Clogged or cracked condensate drain line: The condensate drain line is where water travels through as it is pumped out of the drain pan. Due to its wet surface, the condensate drain line is prone to bacteria, algae, or mould formation that may cause blockage in the drain line and prevent water from being properly drained. Cracks in the drain line may also cause leakage.
    • Broken drain pan: The drain pan collects water from the evaporator coils. If it is broken or cracked, it will not be able to hold water properly.

Noise

Opened AC unit

Condensate pump don’t operate very quietly, but neither do they make too much noise. If the condensate pumps produce a loud, gurgling sound, then it could be malfunctioning. The gurgling sound may be caused by the pump itself which is trying to pump out excess water out of the drain pan.

If the condensate pump continues to run but it isn’t pumping water out, then it could mean that the condensate drain line is either blocked or frozen.

A condensate pump is an important part of an HVAC system. It is important to determine if it is encountering any problems at an early stage so that it may be repaired or replaced immediately.

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