How to Tell If Your Condensate Pump Is Working

How to Tell if Condensate Pump Is Working

There are lots of important components that make cooling and heating your home possible. Take for example the condensate pump, which works to remove water that accumulates within your air conditioning system.

The condensate pump has a big job to do, but like all other components of your AC, the condensate pump can break or malfunction as it wears down.

If your condensate pump has stopped pumping water out, or if you’re unsure whether or not it’s working, here are a few potential reasons why and what you can do about it.

Why Is My Condensate Pump Not Pumping Water?

First things first – what exactly is a condensate pump?

In the simplest terms, a condensate pump is a small sump pump designed to pump water from a central collection point to a remote location like a floor drain or utility sink.

When it comes to your air conditioning system, the condensate pump works to collect the water that builds up within your system. As the water level rises within the reservoir of the condensate pump, a float rises as well. Eventually, the float rises until it reaches a specific point. The float then hits the float switch. The float switch triggers the condensate pump to turn on and remove the water to the outside of your home.

While this is what happens when your condensate pump is working as it should, there are a few factors that can affect its performance.

Over time, the float and float components can accumulate debris, which will gunk up the system and possibly prevent it from triggering the float switch and draining the water. The float and float components are also susceptible to wear and tear over the years, which can contribute to a condensate pump malfunction. Also within the condensate pump is a motor, which can wear with normal use.

How to Troubleshoot a Broken Condensate Pump

If your condensate pump isn’t working, there are easy ways you can troubleshoot the device without the help of a professional. Here’s where to start.

Step 1. Check that the condensate pump is receiving power

In some cases, the condensate pump may not be working simply because the power was shut off by accident or because the circuit breaker tripped.

Check that the condensate pump’s wire is plugged into an outlet. If the pump is hardwired, make sure that the switch is on the ‘On’ position.

Step 2. Gently tap the microswitch

If the condensate pump has power and there is water overflowing from the top of the reservoir, it’s likely that the microswitch for the main float has failed or the pump motor has failed.

Take the plastic end of a screwdriver and gently tap the microswitch for the main float and see if this makes the condensate pump run again.

Many times when microswitches fail, they will work again with a light tap. Keep in mind that some of the neighboring connections are high voltage, so always take caution to not touch any of the connections.

Step 3. Inspect the float

Similarly, sometimes the float can become stuck thanks to a buildup of algae or debris. When this happens, it can cause the condensate pump to shut off. If the float is stuck, gently tap on it until it moves freely.

Take notice of the condition of the float. If it’s cracked or damaged, it will need to be replaced.

Step 4. Empty the water from the reservoir

If your condensate pump has a safety switch and your air conditioning system has stopped running, try emptying the water from the reservoir of the pump. This will buy you more time before you need to replace the condensate pump, but keep in mind that this is only a temporary fix.

Step 5. Check for clogs

Locate the drain hose and place a cup underneath. Next, pour a cup of water into one of the holes at the top of the condensate pump and see if this makes the device run. Make sure you don’t run the condensate pump without any water in the reservoir since this can damage the device.

If water comes out of the drain hose then you know that the hose is not clogged. If the water doesn’t come out of the drain hose then it’s possible that there is a clog. It’s also possible that the impeller and valve are dirty or broken and need to be cleaned or replaced.

Step 6. Clean the condensate pump valve

Over time, algae and debris can build up inside of the condensate pump, forming clogs throughout the device – especially on the valve. Cleaning the valve is relatively simple. All you have to do is remove the drain line from the valve, remove the valve, clean it, and reinstall it. This should restore the proper flow of water.

Step 7. Clean the condensate pump

Sometimes only the condensate pump valve needs to be cleaned. Other times, it’s best to clean the entire condensate pump. Because the condensate pump is continuously pumping water, it can be a breeding ground for algae and other debris. This can clog components of the condensate pump, which can make the device malfunction.

If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned the condensate pump, we recommend doing it now. To clean the condensate pump, simply turn off the power to both the device and your air conditioning system.

Once the power is off, clean the condensate pump using warm water and dish soap. Remove the outer housing of the condensate pump and remove the water from both the pump and the reservoir.

Condensate Pump Repair and Replacement in Pinellas County and South Tampa

If your condensate pump has stopped pumping water or is experiencing another issue, the professionals at Blair’s Air want to help. Our experienced HVAC professionals will get your condensate pump back up and running in no time. In other cases, we can determine if your condensate pump needs to be replaced and help you find the right device for your budget.

If you need assistance right away. We offer 24/7 emergency AC repair services, and we’re open 365 days a year.

Call (727) 800-4148 to schedule service.