Should the Drip Pan of a Home AC Unit Have Water in It?

Mar 17, 2022

Should my AC Drip Pan have Water In It?

Water plays a crucial role in the performance of your home A/C unit. Sometimes, you will see water in places that is should not be, and that could spell problems for your HVAC equipment.

If you do find there is water in parts of your home air conditioning system that is not right, it could lead to big HVAC maintenance issues. The question becomes, is the A/C drip pan an area that you should not expect to see water?

What is an AC Drip Pan?

Your A/C unit drip pan is a plain metal pan located under the evaporator coils. It is also referred to as a drain pan. This part of your home air conditioner unit is designed to stop water from seeping inside the A/C system, which could cause major damage.

If you find water pooling in your air conditioner, and in your drip pan specifically, it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

How a Drip Pan Operates

When you have your air conditioner on, the chilling process will generate droplets of water. This process resembles water droplets that form on a glass of cold water. The A/C water droplets will in time begin to drip. That is why a condensate drip pan is placed underneath to allow it to capture those drops of water.

You’ll find the drip pan connected to a water drain that will safely force the water out of the house. If your A/C unit did not have a drip pan, you would very quickly experience major maintenance problems with your air conditioner unit.

What It Means to Find Water in Your Drip Pan

The purpose of your drip pan is to collect water droplets. It is normal to find water on the drip pan, provided that water is able to smoothly flow out of it through the line. A problem arises if water accumulates in the drip pan, and overflows.

That signals your drain is plugged up. If you don’t remedy this problem, the water will overflow uncontrollably. It could leak into your house, permeate inside the system, and also trigger microbiological growth. That is why this issue calls for immediate action.

hvac drip pan

Reasons Your A/C Drip Pan Has Accumulated Water

Evaporator Coil Freezes

A frozen evaporator coil can cause dripping water that will result in moisture in your drip pan. If the refrigerant levels happen to be low, the evaporator coil will probably freeze. If you are experiencing low refrigerant levels, this usually signals a refrigerant leak somewhere in the system.

Our certified technicians at Apollo can resolve this issue for you by identifying leaks and repairing your system. After there is no longer a leak, your refrigerant can be recharged.

Drain Pipe is Clogged

The most common cause of standing water in the drip pan is a clogged drain pipe. As the air circulates over the evaporator coils in your air conditioner, it cools down and loses a portion of its humidity. That humidity is left behind in the form of condensation on the coils. The condensation drips off and into the condensate drip pan and leaves the system through the drain line.

In addition to water being left on the evaporator coil, dust and dirt can be found there also due to the air that blows over these coils. A clog occurs when the dirt drips off in the water and it moves down the drain line.

A/C System was not Properly Installed

If your home A/C unit was installed incorrectly, the drip pan could be angled in the wrong direction. The outlet for the drain must be on the lower side of the pan so water can flow toward it. However, if the outlet is instead on the opposite side of the pan, water will accumulate before having the chance to drain.

You also need to have stable supports below the drip pan in order to keep the pan in place and to support the bottom. Without this in place, the pan could sag, which allows space for water to pool.

Ways to Prevent Water from Accumulating in the Drip Pan

If your home A/C unit was recently installed, you can try taking a half cup of vinegar or Clorox, and mixing it with half a cup of water. Pour this solution down the drain line once a month.

If you have an older model air conditioning unit, you may have to take other measures. There may be a solvent cleaner available that you could use for the A/C drain line that could eliminate any buildup inside.

Look to Apollo Heating and Air Conditioning for Expert Maintenance of Your HVAC

Look to the HVAC experts at Apollo to ensure your energy system is in excellent condition and operating at optimal efficiency so you can stay cool and comfortable this summer. Our experienced team of highly trained technicians will work with you and exceed your expectations during HVAC repairs and A/C unit replacements.

Apollo field technicians will work closely with you in deciding what HVAC system is the best, and tailor it to fit your unique needs and preferences! We are committed to delivering premium quality HVAC service, maintenance, products, and documentation in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and beyond!

Learn more by contacting Apollo Heating and Air Conditioning! Call us at (509) 396-COLD (2653).