When it becomes Summer in the Pittsburgh Area, air-conditioning is a big deal! Air conditioning was first invented in the 1920’s and involves the compression and evaporation of volatile gases called refrigerants in order to remove the heat from your home. While we’ve refined the process over the last century, there are still quite a few moving parts to contemporary cooling systems nowadays and they do require maintenance.
The Absence of a Secondary Safety Switch
Secondary condensation drains are not always installed unfortunately! These drains are technically optional, as long as another means of shutting down the cooling system is present should the primary condensation drain become clogged. But all too often, especially on older residences, we see an air conditioning system that does not have any type of secondary drain.
Clogged Condensation Drains
Have you ever seen water dripping out of the pipe in the sticking out of the ceiling of your porch or exterior wall above a window? That is probably your secondary condensation drain, and if water is coming out of that pipe, it probably means that your primary condensation drain is clogged!
Cooling systems operate like big de-humidifiers, removing moisture from the air. This moisture has to go somewhere, so it collects on the evaporator coil and drains into a drip-pan, which is connected to a drain to the exterior. Periodically, this drain will get very clogged, because the cool, damp and dark space inside the pipe is a prime spot for gunk and algae to grow. The primary drain line can periodically maintained by pouring dilute bleach or white vinegar down the condensate drain, such as when you change your air-filters, but eventually you will likely need to use compressed air to physically blow out the line. When you don’t, the line gets blocked and condensation then goes to the secondary condensation drain.
The condenser is the large, noisy, usually square shaped unit that exists outside. These systems contain a compressor that condenses the refrigerant and a large fan that blows air over the refrigerant lines to dissipate heat. These condensers are filled with aluminum radiator fins similar to a car’s radiator, and periodically these fins require cleaning. There are plenty of online tutorials about cleaning your own condensers as well as products that can be found affordably at your local hardware store, but you may consider contacting your local HVAC professional to provide a general cleaning and servicing of the system. Dirty condenser coils will reduce the lifespan of the equipment as well as reduce the energy efficiency of the equipment, so keep the coils clean!
Have more questions regarding what home inspectors look for? Feel free to contact your Crescent Township Area Home Inspector Pro today!