Air-Conditioning Problems: How big an issue is this when selling?
February 16, 2016 | Richard Sites
Here in South Florida air-conditioning systems can run year-round. Last year our winter was especially warm and this year we have had not only warm weather but a very, very wet season. They say it’s caused by El Niño. But one of the problems that can occur is the overflow pan from an air-conditioner can cause extensive damage if not properly drained and maintained. Here are my thoughts.
During my 13 years in the Jupiter real estate market I have run across this problem several times and been a victim of it myself. I have seen it on luxury homes over $1 million as well as more modest ones.
What is the problem?
As A/C systems remove moisture from the air inside the home the units are designed to drain this water away from the coils. Typically, the water leaves the unit through a length of PVC and is channeled through the house to the outside. On older homes, the air handler units might be in the garage, like mine, so the distance this water has to travel to the outside is short. On the other hand some homes are configured differently.
Other homes have the units deep inside or on the second floor. Some units are even located in the attic. In these situations, the drain lines can be long and have multiple bends and corners in them making the draining of water even more difficult.
As the water travels along, molds grow in the line and can plug them up which in turn causes the water to back up. Now, there is a cut-off switch that is supposed to turn the A/C off if the water in the pan gets too deep. I have seen them fail too which causes the water to accumulate unchecked and eventually spill into the house.
If your air handler is inside or upstairs, you’ve got a problem.
The DIY solution is to pick up some “anti-mold” tablets at your local hardware store. Add these to the pan and in theory they will kill the mold and keep the lines clean. The best solution however, is to hire an A/C company to provide semi-annual service maintenance at which time they will blow out the lines.
Since there is no way to tell if the cut-off switch is going to fail so it is imperative that the drain lines stay clean and open. So even if the switch fails, the water can continue to flow outside.
As with my thoughts on water intrusion, if you have a second home in Florida and the A/C could be running all the time, take care to have the system maintained. Even if you have a “Home Watch” type of service checking on the house once a week, plenty of damage could occur between visits.
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