Water Leaking from AC Condensate Pan

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JD3263

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Rheem Model: RCHL-48A1G
MFG Date: 05/2009

Hello,

I have a lot of water dripping onto the AC filter and from what appears to be the condensate tray. The AC blows cold air and seems to be functioning normally; it's just the leaking that's a problem.

I used a shop vac on the drain pipes from the outside and also cleaned out the front part of the condensate drain. Unfortunately, this didn't help. After the AC runs for a while, there is a steady, heavy drip at the back of the pan (See red arrows in picture). I'm guessing there is blockage there that is preventing proper draining, but I can't figure out how to access this part of the pan to clean it out. Any ideas or other suggestions? Is there a way to get access to the pan without removing the coils?

This is looking up from underneath the unit with the filter removed. The red arrows show where most of the water appears to be leaking.
1.jpg


The following image shows the front AC panel removed with the front part of the drain pan cleaned out.
2.jpg


3.jpg




Thank you!
 

Fitter30

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Coil is dirty needs to pulled and hosed off with some deluted dish soap or evap cleaner. Pull the flue drains and hopefully can pull the coil out of the cabinet. Looks like a York evap coil. Blower wheel is more than likely dirty to. Blower assembly pulled, motor pulled taken outside with dish soap and hosed.
 
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JD3263

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Coil is dirty needs to pulled and hosed off with some deluted dish soap or evap cleaner. Pull the flue drains and hopefully can pull the coil out of the cabinet. Looks like a York evap coil. Blower wheel is more than likely dirty to. Blower assembly pulled, motor pulled taken outside with dish soap and hosed.

Is this a typical DIY job? I don't mind getting my hands dirty and prefer to do it myself if I can, but just wondering if any special tools are required, etc. to ensure it's done correctly. Do I need to remove the refrigerant in the system before disconnecting the coils (And then add refrigerant afterwards)?

Thank you for the help!
 

John Gayewski

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You don't disconnect the coil. And can't let the refrigerant out. You have to wash the coil inside of the cabinet. Without getting all of the insulation wet. Good luck with that. It's possible but you likley have to dismantle the cabinet it in.
 

JD3263

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You don't disconnect the coil. And can't let the refrigerant out. You have to wash the coil inside of the cabinet. Without getting all of the insulation wet. Good luck with that. It's possible but you likley have to dismantle the cabinet it in.

I cleaned it about six months ago using foaming coil cleaner and a wire brush, but I did it all by reaching up from underneath the unit. It wasn't perfect due to the space restrictions, but it looks better than it did. I should probably clean it again, but the unit is running fine at the moment.

At this point, my main issue is the water leaking from the condensate pan that the coil is sitting on. My theory is the track along the back and the two tracks running to the front are clogged, which is causing the water to pool and leak from those areas (Indicated with red arrows in the pictures of my first post).

With the above in mind, is there any way to lift the coil a couple inches so I can access the condensate pan and release any clogs? I tried looking to see if I could drop the pan without messing with the coil, but it's hard to tell.

Thank you!
 

Fitter30

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If coil surface isn't clean condensate can start running down the face of the coil get to a spot and instead of running into the pan it drips off the coil. Take a inpection mirror might be able to see if the pan is full of dirt.
 

WorthFlorida

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Your condensation line is plugged up. It seems to be the number one problem in Florida. Usually you can pull off the two elbows so just a straight pipe sticks out of the ground. Then with a garden hose shoot water into the pipe with the garden nozzle in a jet water stream. This usually will force water up into the pipe. Do it for about 5-10 seconds and let gravity do the rest. This backwash is easy since it is not possible to do it on the inside. Techs may use compressed air from the inside. I just had to mine a few weeks ago after seven years. All kinds of crud came out. My sons house, just up the street, plugged up so hard that a condensation pump had to be installed.

The condition of the tray is about normal and I'm guessing the unit is more than ten years old. It is steel framing, copper coils and a plastic tray. New air handlers are all aluminum with a plastic tray.

The other issue is there are two drains and one is probably the overflow And this is a cheap and wrong way of doing it. Both maybe plugged. The best way is to install a SafeTee switch on the overflow. You wire in with the 24 volts to the thermostat and when overflow water lifts the float switch it shuts off the unit. The SafeTee can be bought on line or at any HVAC dealers. Most will sell it to the public.
 

JD3263

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Your condensation line is plugged up. It seems to be the number one problem in Florida. Usually you can pull off the two elbows so just a straight pipe sticks out of the ground. Then with a garden hose shoot water into the pipe with the garden nozzle in a jet water stream. This usually will force water up into the pipe. Do it for about 5-10 seconds and let gravity do the rest. This backwash is easy since it is not possible to do it on the inside. Techs may use compressed air from the inside. I just had to mine a few weeks ago after seven years. All kinds of crud came out. My sons house, just up the street, plugged up so hard that a condensation pump had to be installed.

The condition of the tray is about normal and I'm guessing the unit is more than ten years old. It is steel framing, copper coils and a plastic tray. New air handlers are all aluminum with a plastic tray.

The other issue is there are two drains and one is probably the overflow And this is a cheap and wrong way of doing it. Both maybe plugged. The best way is to install a SafeTee switch on the overflow. You wire in with the 24 volts to the thermostat and when overflow water lifts the float switch it shuts off the unit. The SafeTee can be bought on line or at any HVAC dealers. Most will sell it to the public.

Thanks for the info! I'll add the SafeTee switch. I was surprised to find out there wasn't one installed after I started researching my problem.

Regarding the drain pipes, that was one of the first things I tried and I definitely got some gunk out, but the leaking was still happening. I used a shop vac on the end of the pipe outside after removing the elbows, but I'll consider your hose recommendation next time. Seems like a good option to really help force the crap out.

At this point, I think my issue is resolved. No leaking for the past 3 days. I ended up taking a compressor and blowing air down along all the condensate pan tracks along the coils. There were a couple decent size chunks of stuff that came out around the spot that seemed to be leaking.

Thanks again for the help and suggestions. I have a list of things to try for the next time things get clogged up.
 

WorthFlorida

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Is this a typical DIY job? I don't mind getting my hands dirty and prefer to do it myself if I can, but just wondering if any special tools are required, etc. to ensure it's done correctly. Do I need to remove the refrigerant in the system before disconnecting the coils (And then add refrigerant afterwards)?

Thank you for the help!
As others have stated, those coils are really dirty. This accumulated dust is where mold will grow on. If you have any it will look like black grease spots and they can be tough to remove.

The amount of dust that has accumulated on the coils is from using an ineffective filter and not changing it out often enough. Use a filter with at least a MERV-8 rating. Another source of poor performance is the filter size. If you insert a filter at the bottom of the air handler, you need to get the exact size and that can be a hassle to find one let alone you fight getting one out and in. Another source is the intake grill filter. If your grill is mounted on the drywall leading to the air handler, these use 1/2 size. That is a regular HVAC filter will measure, as an example, 17-7/8" x 23-7/8"(18x24). A grill filter will use 17.5" x 23.5".

To clean the coil without removing everything, get a can or two of an aerosol coil cleaner. Some are self rinsing using the condensate and others are not. Either way they can really stink the house up for a few minutes. Follow the directions on the can and from the bottom with the filter removes, spray the coils with the cleaner. let it sit as directed. I prefer to rinse it down with water by using a pump hand sprayer. Spraying from the top is usually not possible, however, if you remove the blower, doable by most, you see the coils but most of the crud is on the bottom.

As Fritter mentioned, the blower wheel fins are probably full of dust and crud where you maybe moving only half the amount of air. Removing the blower assemble, usually requires a few screws and disconnect a plug or two. Be sure to turn off the circuit breaker. There are YouTube videos on this but just note a furnace will have the blower on the bottom, an AC handler it will be on top of the coils.

If this it too much, any AC service company can do this.

AC COIL.jpg1661648886932.png
 
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