A question often asked by building engineers and AC service staff concerns running into frequent dirty AC condensate pans. Maintenance staff reason ” I am using the best AC filters economically possible. I make sure the filters fit tightly (no areas of blow-by) and I change my filters out quarterly without fail. So with these good filters and my procedures, how can it happen I run into fouled and dirty condensate pans? What am I doing wrong?”
Most often, there is nothing wrong with your filters or procedures. You may have to look at another area to take action.
Specifically, tests of air show that the number of course particles in urban air is over one-thousand times LESS than what is called ultra-fine particles. Even so, this amount of 1/1,000 of the amount of incoming particles accounts for up to ninety-nine percent (that’s 99%) of the mass of the particles.
Realize that a typical 5-ton air conditioning unit (60,000 BTUs) will pull in around 2,000 cubic feet of air per minute. Since outside air contains from 500,000 to one million particles, there is an good amount of particles available for contamination. Since the limit of human visibility is 30 microns, the vast majority of these particles can not be seen.
Accepting that some particle intrusion into the system is unavoidable, keeping condensate pans clean must therefore rely on other methods.
Some vendors state the answer is UV (ultra-violet) lights within the HVAC system. Many promote that not only will this keep condensate pans clean, but it will help the overall indoor air quality by killing airborne bacteria and fungi.
Both of these statements are not true. One cannot kill something that is not living in the first place – these small particles for a major example. Common dirt particles account for the vast majority of incoming particles. UV light will do absolutely nothing to get rid of these particles, and they continue to build up in the water collection pan.
Secondly, the effectiveness of UV light on killing microbes depends on the energy or watts of the UV lamp, the distance between the light and the microbe particle, and very importantly, the time the UV light is in contact with the microbe. Of course, air passing through a cooling coil travels at about 400 feet per minute – microbes within the air do not slow down so they can be effected by UV light. They pass by readily, and are unaffected.
One solution that always works is to use a timed or controlled-released EPA registered anti-microbial such as our Algae Guard, containing a certified active-ingredient concentration of 32%. In use for over two decades, Algae Guard is a place and forget solution, lasting up to 6 months without any maintenance intervention. It is a proven and rewarding solution avoid to odor-laden, biological soup often seen in condensate pans.
Algae Guard is guaranteed to work.
Lynn Burkhart is the founder and president of Controlled Release Technologies, Inc. located in Shelby, North Carolina. More information about the company, and its products, can be found at http://www.cleanac.com and by calling (800) 766-9057.