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How Much Water Should Drain From Your Air Conditioner?

By September 13, 2021No Comments
How much water should drain from your air conditioner

Did you know your air conditioner does more than just cool air? It actually is responsible for pulling the humidity out of your home as well. This is why water should drain from your air conditioner. But how much water should drain from your air conditioner? Technically, however much it needs to, but on average we say 5 gallons to 20 gallons per day depending on the humidity level outside.

To start answering this question in more detail, we must first learn why an air conditioner drains in the first place.

Condensation lines near air conditioner.
Condensation lines near the air conditioner.

Why Does An Air Conditioner Drain Water?

As mentioned above, an air conditioner does more than just cool the air, it removes the humidity as well. And it’s not the actual air compressor that drains the water, it’s your air handler.

Your HVAC system comprises your air compressor (outside) and your air handler (inside). When your HVAC system is on cooling mode, the copper coils inside your air handler are filled with a freon gas that gets very cold.

And as you know from basic science, when you leave a cold water bottle outside in the heat, what happens? It condensates!

Your air handler coils begin to condensate water because the coils are so cold compared to the inside temperature of the home.

Once this happens, the condensation falls through the coils, hits the drain pan, and gets placed into the condensate line, which travels outside the home to drain the water (noted in the pictures above).

Air handler and condensation line.

Important Notes

If your air handler does not drain condensate properly, you could end up in a moldy situation like the one below. Be sure to insulate your condensation line (the white PVC pipe) to ensure further condensation does not occur and turns into water damage or mold.

Mold on Air Handler
You should always insulate the condensate line to prevent mold and further condensate on the PVC pipe.

How Much Water Should Drain From Your Air Conditioner Then?

Well, it’s hard to give an exact amount, but on average we say 5 to 20 gallons per day.

If Your Air Conditioner Is Not Draining Water

If your condensation line is not draining at all, then your HVAC system is not pulling the humidity out of the air, or your condensate line is clogged (read more about that below).

Consider testing the humidity in your home using a hygrometer which can be purchased from your local hardware store. If the humidity level is well above 50% then you should call an HVAC professional to take a look at your system. More than likely, your system is not cooling the home either.

Your system could also have the following:

  • Frozen evaporator coils (over-cooling)
  • Damaged condensation pump (if you have one)

If Your Air Conditioner Is Draining Too Much Water

The only case your air handler is draining too much water is if your condensation line is getting clogged or is backing up.

This could lead to water damage around your air handler, mold, and wood rot like the image above.

To ensure your condensation line does not get backed up or clogged, pour 1/3 cup of vinegar every 1-3 months down the condensate line.

If your condensate line is clogged, use a wet/dry shop vacuum to suck the clog out.

On the other hand, you could have a rusted/damaged drain pan. The drain pan is responsible for catching the condensation from the evaporator coils and placing it inside the condensate line.

Is your air handler sweating instead?

Final Thoughts

Your air conditioner should naturally drain water that was once humidity out of your home. On average, you can expect 5 to 20 gallons of condensate per day. If water is not draining, your climate may be too dry or your system is not functioning properly. If condensate is backing up into your home, you should call a professional as there could be a clog or damaged drain pan.

Waypoint Property Inspection conducts inspections of HVAC systems during our home inspections in the Tampa Bay, FL Area.

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