Replace An Air Conditioner Overflow Pan
LESLIE: Mike in Georgia is up with an air conditioning question. What can we do?
MIKE: I’ve got an older down-flow air conditioner and the pan under the coil is rusted out and it’s leaking onto the ceiling downstairs.
TOM: OK. Right. OK.
MIKE: And everybody wants to sell me a whole new unit (Tom chuckles) and I’m trying to figure out a way to see if that pan can be fixed or replaced or somehow rigged; something so that I don’t have to buy a whole new HVAC unit. Now I have been told that that pan is welded – you know, the coil is welded to the pan.
TOM: Right. Right. Well, here’s what you can do. First of all, you could have another drip pan put under the existing unit. Is that possible? Has that been discussed?
MIKE: Well, that’s what I’ve been thinking I could do but most of the people who come – or all of the people who come out here are just saying that’s not going to work. But I’m …
TOM: Yeah, I don’t see why it won’t work, Mike. I think that they want to – that those guys want to sell you a whole new system and if you’re not ready to buy one, I don’t think you should be forced to. I mean, frankly, most of the time, you have an overflow pan under an air conditioner, so I don’t see why you can’t put a bit of a beefier condensate pan underneath that and simply go with that. Have that drain properly into a condensate pump and take the water out that way.
Now if there are just small areas that are rusted out, you can also repair the metal with an epoxy patching compound. You can use auto body filler on metal to seal areas that are rusted out. That’s how you would do it on a car; there’s no reason you can’t do it on the metal jacket of an air conditioner as well.
MIKE: Do you know if they make something for that? Because I just – I thought I might be able to just go to Home Depot or something like that.
TOM: No, I mean typically those pans are made up at a sheet metal shop or HVAC contractors make them themselves back in their own shops. Anyone that makes ductwork can make an overflow pan for you.
MIKE: So just got to find the right person, huh?
TOM: That’s right. That’s right; somebody who wants to sell you a repair and not a replacement because I don’t think you need it yet.
MIKE: OK, well I’ll keep looking.
TOM: Good luck, Mike. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.