How Does a Condensate Pump Work?

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A condensate pump is a pump designed to be used with air conditioners, refrigerators and other appliances that create a buildup of water. The water condensates from water vapor that is created from steam, exhaust or warm air meeting a unit that is cool. The pump removes water from the system and pumps it through a pipe, normally to an outside drain.

The pump is triggered when a float in the water reaches a height. This triggers a switch that turns the pump on. Once the float goes down to a lower level, the float signals the pump to turn off. Some pumps have a safety switch that turns the entire system off if the pump fails to turn on when needed. It does this at a second switch higher than the first. If the float reaches the second switch, the system turns off to keep the condensation tank from overflowing.

In the pump, an impeller is located at the bottom of the condensation pump. This is the mechanism that does the pumping. The motor attaches to the impeller with a metal bar and is located near the top of the tank or someplace out of the water. As the motor runs, the impeller suctions the water and transfers it through piping and out of the storage tank or tray.

Some larger systems are set up to not only collect the condensation, but to reuse it. This is normally in a steam system, where the water can be pumped to a treatment area and then sent back to the steam area.


Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.