Why Doe My Air Conditioner Have a Drain?

Common questions about air conditioners often come from a lack of understanding of how they work, and understandably so.  When it comes to home appliances, the HVAC is one of the most complex.  There are multiple types of air conditioners, adding to the complications of understanding how they work, but at their core most of their functions are the same.  One thing all AC’s have is a drain line, which leads homeowners to make some false assumptions about how it all works.

Does My AC Use Water to Cool or Heat My Home?

Learning that your HVAC has a drain line prompts the reasonable question of whether or not water is used in the heating or cooling process.  While there are such systems in existence, the typical home air conditioner does not use water as part of its process.  It does, however, produce water as a byproduct.  Water accumulates on the indoor evaporator coil and drips off into a drain pan.  As the pan fills, the water runs out the drain line, also known as the condensate line, and empties outside of the home.

How Important is My Drain Line?

Your air conditioner’s drain line is a critical component of your heating and cooling system.  When your drain line becomes clogged or otherwise nonoperational it can cause a number of problems.  One such problem includes flooding out your home.  If the water cannot drain properly, it can backup and overflow the drain pan into your home.  This leads to expensive repairs and terribly inconvenience for homeowners.

A nonoperational drain line can also shut down your AC unit.  As a safety precaution against water damage, most units are outfitted with a float switch.  These devices will trip and cut the power to the unit when they detect water backing up out of the drain line.


In conclusion, drain lines are very important.  They allow condensation to safely evacuate your home and are necessary to the successful function of your air conditioner.

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