Water Safety for Your Home: AC and Plumbing Systems Work Together

When you own your own home, the maintenance for your home’s upkeep and repair belong to you. Every home is going to need regular care to keep its air conditioning and plumbing systems working properly. Sometimes the maintenance tasks are simple and easy. And sometimes, they might require a licensed plumber or air conditioning contractor’s help. A good REALTOR, like my friend Susan Hutson who specializes in home sales on Houston’s Westside, is a great resource for referrals for many kinds of contractors to help with home maintenance and repair. If you purchased your home brand-new, your builder may be able to give you a maintenance schedule to help you learn how to maintain your home. Perry Homes, a local builder in the Katy area, suggests these fall home maintenance tips to get ready for fall which includes addressing mold and moisture.

Mildew and Mold Form Quickly

When a home experiences a leak or build up of moisture, it is important to clean up the water as quickly as possible. Mold and mildew can begin growing in a very short time especially in warmer climates like ours. It’s easy to identify by its distinctive musty smell and the telltale dark spots when it really gets going. It can also be a hazard to health if left untreated. The Environmental Protection Agency offers much more information about the safe identification and removal of mold after a flood, leak, or moisture buildup in your home. To preserve a home’s indoor air quality, it’s important to dry things out quickly if they get wet. Ultraviolet lights  placed in your duct work and/or the installation of a high-end air purifier like the Air Knight IPG  that actively removes airborne contaminants can also help purify the air in your home.

Ways to Spot Water Damage

Sometimes it’s easy to spot water damage because water is pouring through a wall or a ceiling, in which case the first thing to do is to shut off the water to the home. Know the location of your home’s water shut-off switch and how to to shut it off in the event your plumbing has a leak. Many more times, water leaks may be less apparent. Here’s a few ways to watch for damage:

  • Examine your water bill. Is is much higher than usual with no explanation?
  • Be observant and watch for stains in carpet, walls, and ceilings, especially around appliances.
  • Is there a new dank or musty smell in the home?
  • Is your flooring warping or not laying flat?
  • Is paint or wall paper peeling for no reason?
  • Are plumbing fixtures damp or showing signs of rust or corrosion?

Maintaining Your HVAC’s Condensate Drain

Attic drain pan showing condensate drain

Inspect and maintain your HVAC System’s Drain System by pouring a half-cup of vinegar, not bleach, in the attic condensate drain once each quarter. If you can only remember to do it twice a year, it will be better than never doing it. If you don’t have a ceiling saver switch, have one installed. These handy switches turn off your air conditioner in the event that your drain clogs and your drain pan fills up. A reputable contractor will be happy to show you where the drain is located, how to maintain it, and if you might benefit from a drain pan ceiling saver switch. As per municipal code, newer systems require their installation, so you may already have one or two!

If you observe water pouring from your ceiling and you suspect it is because you have a clogged condensate drain, the fastest way to make the water stop is to shut off the air conditioning system. Occasionally, if you have a very big clog in your condensate drain AND another clog in your plumbing system in a newer home, it could cause a back-up in your plumbing system. This does not happen often, but it is possible, which is why it is so important to keep an eye on your plumbing system regularly.

Check Your Plumbing Regularly

bathroom sink with running water

Make sure to watch for clogs and slow-draining sinks, especially in bathrooms that aren’t used often.

Make it a regular part of your spot-checking maintenance schedule to observe that all of your sinks, toilets, tubs, showers, kitchen disposal, and water heater are working properly and don’t have any clogs or seeping water around them or their pipes. One way to check the drains is to fill the bathroom sink and see how quickly it drains. If you have a slow sink, it is usually pretty easy to address. I installed a nifty Drain Strain on my kids’ sink because it kept getting clogged and this makes it easier to clean out.  Your shower or tub should have a strainer to catch hair so you can remove it before it slows down the drain. There are many more options for strainers at your favorite home improvement store.

Do not make the mistake of skipping inspections because your guest bathroom is not used often. In newer homes, air conditioner condensate drains are plumbed into a bathroom sink most commonly. If you get a clog in your condensate drain that is dislodged and there is another hidden clog in that bathroom, it can cause an unexpected backup into your plumbing system, which may require a plumber’s help.


Another source of water leaks can come from faulty hoses on your clothes washer.

Inspect Your Home’s Appliances

Don’t forget to check your home’s appliances that use a lot of water because their hoses and connectors can be the source of water leaks. Your washing machine, automatic dishwasher, and ice maker/water dispenser attached to your refrigerator/freezer also have water lines connected to them.

Get in Touch for Expert Help

Maintenance and inspecting your plumbing, appliances, and air conditioning equipment will go a long way toward preventing most leaks in your home. Terry’s A/C and Heating specializes in an expert diagnosis and repair of your HVAC system. Call us today at 281-495-7830 and ask us how we can help you prevent destructive water leaks from your HVAC system as it removes water and humidity from the air in your home. We are happy to give referrals to plumbers that we use regularly if it turns out that your leak is related to your plumbing system and advice about homeowner’s insurance that may be able to help you cover any unexpected damage if water damage does occur.