How to Deal with a Rusted AC Drain Pan

hand cleaning AC part

Most home AC systems contain a drain pipe and a drain pan. The pipe is designed to remove excess water from the evaporator coil. The water then flows through the pipe to the drain pan which acts as a reservoir for the water coming out of your home.

Traditional air conditioner systems were made with metallic drain pans that could rust. Most modern systems, however, come with a plastic pan that is less likely to rust.

Traditional metal pans may rust after several years of use. Given that most ACs have a long lifespan, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to repair the pan. However, you can also prevent the pan from rusting by carrying out regular maintenance.

The main reason AC drain pans get rusted is that the drain pipe gets clogged. If bacteria and algae build up in the drainpipe, it stops the pipe from draining water properly.

This will lead the AC to activate the emergency shut-off mechanism. Consequently, your AC may start shutting off before it has properly cooled the house.

Why Is the Drip Pan Rusty?

Well, the fact that the pan holds water means that there are ripe conditions for rust. Water and metal only need a little exposure to oxygen for rusting to start. If water is allowed to sit on the pan for way too long chances are that it will start rusting.

Eventually, deep rust will cause the pan to start leaking. If the pan starts leaking you have a big problem, since you're starting to run the risk of water damage. If you notice that your pan is looking rusty, or orange in color, chances are that you have a blocked line, a condensate pipe leak, or a condensate drip pan leak.

How to Prevent Pan Rust

The best way to prevent the pan from rusting is by coating it. A preventive coat such as a pan seal coat will help the pan retain water without necessarily getting rusted. The seal could also help close any holes in the pan.

Sealing the pan doesn't only stop leakages but also reduces the chances of rust. The seal also reduces other issues such s fungus and mold growth. When your AC is infected with mold or fungus, the air quality is reduced significantly.

How to Fix a Rusted and Leaking Drain Pan

For a pan that is already leaking, you have a few options that can help solve the problem. Some of the solutions you may opt for include using a sealant to prevent the pan from leaking out. Use paint if possible to ensure that there is no leakage.

Get a New Pan from Metal Fabricator

The other alternative would be getting a new pan from metal fabricators. This is probably one of the best solutions considering that it will be cost-effective. Getting a new pan will ensure that you get a durable replacement without having to spend much. A new pan from the fabricators will cost you below $100.

To ensure that you get just the right size pan, make sure you remove the old pan and take it to your fabricator. You may alternatively invite the fabricator to your home for analysis but this may attract higher charges.

Whichever route you choose, make sure you have the right dimensions so you don't have to do the job twice.

Get a New Pan from AC Manufacturer

The other option you have is to get a new pan from your AC manufacturer. While most manufacturers have moved away from metallic pans you may still get one if you make inquiries.

Provide the AC model number and your manufacturer may easily get a replacement for you. The only problem with this approach is that they may come at a quite high cost that you can handle.

Replace the Entire Coil

Finally, if you do have the funds, you may opt for replacing the entire heating coil. This is by far the best solution. This is because it solves both the rust and the cause. If you only deal with the rust without addressing the cause you are more likely to run into a similar problem.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that you have to maintain your AC coil pan if you do not want to undergo expensive repair processes. If you experience rust or leakages in the AC pan, get a replacement pan through the suggested methods above.