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Cooling and Ventilation Systems Category: Central Air Conditioners


Central air conditioner is creating a water puddle around its unit base.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

  • Screwdriver (or other fastening device as determined by the manufacturer's use of fasteners)

  • Circuit breaker fuse replacement

  • AC flexible tube replacement

  • AC rigid tube coupling

  • Hacksaw

  • Condensate pump replacement

  • Solution of bleach and water (1:16 mixture of bleach and water, respectively)



Air conditioners and even combustion furnaces of a high efficiency, as a consequential result of their normal operation, create a lot of condensation (i.e., the formation of water), water of which should be properly carried out in tubes to a floor drain or further removed away through the operation of a condensate pump.  So, having this understanding of the tube- and pump-system that properly withdraws the condensation, whenever you notice water puddles around your air conditioner, the most probable cause of such puddles is either the failure of your air conditioner tubing, the condensate pump or both.  (Of course, being low on refrigerant may be a contributing factor to your problem as well.)

If your central air conditioner creates water puddles, do the following:

  1. First and foremost, make sure that the air conditioner tubes are not leaking, and if one is, replace it with another tube.

  2. If the tubes are fine, take a look at your condensate pump:  To make sure the condensate pump is properly working, pour water into the pan of the pump to see if it starts working.  If it doesn't start, two causes of this failure are possible:  1) It is is not receiving electrical power; or 2) It is bad and no longer operational.  As to the former cause of not receiving electrical power, make sure that the cord of the condensate pump is properly plugged into an outlet and that the circuit breaker has not tripped.  In fact, make sure that your circuit breaker is turned to "on," and if need be, replace any burned out circuit breaker fuse.(See the electrical section.)  If the circuit breaker is in order, the latter cause--the condensate pump is bad and no longer working--is the applicable cause of your water puddles, requiring you to replace the condensate pump with another one, which can be purchased from a home improvement store, appliance store or online.

  3. If, on the other hand, the condensate pump starts when you pour the water into its pan, but it does not remove all of the water from the pan, this is a sign that your air conditioner is experiencing some blockage, most probably due to the existence of algae or ice.  More specifically, the pump's incapability to drain out all the water in the pan is likely because, as a result of the blockage, the check valve located near the discharge tube, is stuck.

Caution: When dealing with any device that requires electrical power, make sure you take precautions before you work on it, including disconnecting the power.

  1. Upon disconnecting the power to the air conditioner, unscrew the check valve and work loose the ball-like object therein so as to look for your exact obstruction (again, probably algae or rarely ice) in the drain tube that follows.

  2. Your air conditioner drain tube is most probably made out of flexible plastic, which makes it easier to work with.  However, some air conditioners may come with rigid, stiff tubes that are a bit harder to check and clean.  If you have the flexible plastic drain tube, pull it off the drainage port of your air conditioner and clean out the clogging algae by poking through it with a pipe cleaner (or simple wire) so as to clear the tube; otherwise, you can easily just buy replacement tubing if you want to spend a few bucks more. If you have the rigid tube, cut part of it off with a hacksaw (to be repaired with a coupling later or entirely replaced with a flexible tube), clear it out with a pipe cleaner (or wire) as you would do with the flexible tubing.

  3. Taking all precautions for your eyes and hands, then pour a solution of bleach and water (1:16 solution: 1 part bleach and 16 parts water) into the tubing (flexible or rigid) so as to really make it clean of any algae growth.

  4. Then before reconnecting the tubing back to the drainage port of the air conditioner unit, take the pipe cleaner (or wire) and gently clean out any debris that may be lingering in the beginning part of the drainage port pipe that is attached to the air conditioner.

  5. If ice is blocking your tubes, this is a sign that your filter is dirty or that your refrigerant is low. Call a licensed technician to recharge your air conditioner with refrigerant.  If it is the filter, it must either be cleaned (see step 9 of the "Central air conditioner does not cool" section) or replaced with another filter.

  6. Having cleared the blockage from your tube and cleaned out any debris from the drainage port, reconnect your flexible tube back onto the drainage port, and for those of you have worked with the rigid, stiff tube from the beginning, and chosen not to replace it entirely with a flexible tube, purchase a coupling to replace the earlier cut part of your rigid, stiff tube.

  7. Having reconnected your tube, reconnect the power to your air conditioner and it should be working fine without the accumulation of water puddles.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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