An air conditioned room is the perfect place to take shelter when it gets too hot. But did you know air conditioners protect against high humidity as well? The concept of air conditioning actually came to be about 100 years ago, developed as a defense against high humidity levels. Today, these systems are much more advanced, and one of the key components in humidity control is the condensate drain.
To understand the role of the condensate drain in humidity control, you must first understand the concept of heat exchange. Air conditioners move heat from inside of your home to the outdoors. This is usually done with a split-system air conditioner consisting of an indoor unit and an outdoor unit which refrigerant moves through repeatedly. Inside, the evaporator changes refrigerant from a liquid to a gas and heat is absorbed in the process. Outside, the condenser coil changes refrigerant from gas to liquid and heat releases into the air.
The indoor coil stays relatively cool as warm air blows over the evaporator and cool air returns to the home. Any moisture from the air begins to collect on this coil as condensation. Much like a glass of ice water on a warm day, the evaporator coil forms water droplets on the outside of the coil which eventually need some place to go.
This is where the condensate drain comes in. First, the water droplets fall into a shallow tray called a condensate pan. Then, water flows either directly into a condensate drain or through a condensate line that leads to an outdoor drain.
Sometimes, condensate drains encounter problems. If the drain line is clogged by debris or because of faulty installation, the condensate pan may overflow and harm your system, or else water may leak into your home. Water leaks are one of the most common reasons homeowners call for air conditioning repair, but these may be prevented with annual maintenance by an air conditioning technician.