Central AC systems and furnaces can produce excess moisture, even in the best of conditions. If the unit is outside, draining the excess condensation isn’t an issue, but in other cases, these units will need a condensate pump.
While small, these pumps are critical in some installations which means eventually you need to think about replacements or repairs. If you’ve been on the fence about a malfunctioning pump in your home, this guide will help you diagnose common issues so that you can find the best course of action to take.
Common Problems with Condensation Pumps
There are two common issues with condensation pumps, both of which can be caused by a variety of smaller problems. The first would be pumps that won’t turn on or have power so you can’t tell if it’s working. While this may sound obvious, you’ll want to ensure that the pump is fully plugged into the electrical outlet and no breakers have been flipped.
Once you are sure there is power going to the unit, you simply need to add water to the pump. This should fill a reservoir enabling a float that triggers the switch to the pump. While there are a few more tricks you can try, if the unit has power and water is in the pump, it’s generally time for some light maintenance or a minor repair.
Another issue that plagues homeowners each year are condensate pumps that won’t turn off. To address this you’ll need to remove the reservoir at a minimum, and could need to replace the switch or a worn float. Unless the discharge line simply needs to be unclogged, you’ll want to look into our guide on condensate pumps that run continuously.
Condensation Pump Repair
Compared to a wall air conditioning unit or even a dehumidifier, condensation pumps are simple with very few moving parts. Most only have a switch, water tray or reservoir, and a float. Some models may have two switches, and all will have two lines – one for incoming condensation and one that discharges water outdoors or to a drain.
The easiest part to replace on a condensate pump is the water lines or check valve. While the latter can be challenging to access on some models, both are typically easy to replace. These lines are cheap to purchase, but should be replaced with high-quality tubing that’s clear. This allows you to see the water flow and any mold growth before it becomes an issue.
There may be a few clamps to remove, and you need to ensure it’s the right diameter line, but it’s a simple fix overall. As for the check valve, they slip right into their old spot, but the size is just as important. There are OEM valves for pumps along with third-party alternatives that work on many systems.
A condensation pump switch is another affordable part, but one that requires a bit more patience to replace. You’ll need to be more cautious matching this part to the correct model, and a few simple tools for the repair. To get a better idea of what to expect, check out the video below.
Whether you’re tired of dealing with leaking tubes or a float that constantly sticks, sometimes you are better off replacing a condensate pump than repairing it. That’s due in part to the low price point of these devices, and the high cost of getting someone to work on a condensate pump that’s tied to your HVAC system.
Little Giant VCMA-20
Superior Pump 97154
Our table will give you a good idea of what to expect with the price of a new condensate pump in a variety of sizes. You should make sure that the output is at least 2-3 times the input rate from your system and that it has enough “lift” to pump the water where it needs to go. These systems typically don’t require any special tools to install, although you may want to think twice before doing it yourself.
A faulty condensate pump can leak which could lead to water damage depending on where it’s installed. While we feel the installation process is fairly straightforward on most air conditioners and furnaces, choosing a professional ensures peace of mind when it comes to leaks or a poorly placed discharge hose. If you want to go with a prof, you can use our quote tool to get a quote from a professional HVAC technician in your area.
The decision on whether to repair or replace a condensate pump in your home isn’t something that should not be taken lightly. While we do feel these pumps are easy to repair, unless it’s a simple clog or a leaking tube, you may be better off choosing a new unit along with a professional to install the system on your AC unit or furnace.
Related Article: 4 Common Furnace Condensate Pump Problems & How to Fix?