How to Repair an Air Conditioner Drip Pan

A central air conditioning unit connected to a home from the outside.
What You'll Need
Wet vacuum
Water sealant
Fine-grit sandpaper

Air conditioner repair can be costly when left to a professional. In many cases, there is no reason to shell out the money they charge. Simple problems can be fixed by most DIYers, as an air conditioner is not a terribly technical piece of equipment. Repairing an air conditioner drip pan is one of the projects a DIYer can take on themselves by following these steps.

Step 1 - Turn Off the Power

Even though many air conditioners will shut off as soon as you open the panel, you are much safer if you simply shut off the power to the unit first. This can be accomplished through the switch nest. If you do not have one, you will need to locate the proper fuse in the fuse box. Only after the power is shut off should you attempt any work.

Step 2 - Remove the Front Panel and the Drip Pan

There are two drip pans your machine uses on a constant basis. There is a primary one which is directly under the coils and another which is at the bottom of the unit. The primary is generally permanently affixed, so if this is the one which is dripping, you will need to work on it in place. Use a wet vacuum to remove any water inside and the towel to dry the rest.

If you can remove the pan, or if the problem is the secondary pan, all the better. The secondary pan at the bottom of the machine is designed to be removed easily. Once you've taken the affected pan out, make sure you drain it thoroughly and dry it completely.

Step 3 - Seal the Leak

Inspect the pan thoroughly to find the source of the leak. Then, place water sealant over the problem area. Self-repair will require a steady hand in order to make sure you actually fix the issue, so take care. It is best to add the sealant to both sides in order to allow the compound to adhere to itself. This will create a much stronger bond than anything else. If this is not possible, use fine-grain sandpaper to clean and rough up the surface you are adding the sealant to. Once the sealant has had a chance to cure—at least two hours, sand down any excess glue and replace the drip pan.

Step 4 - Run the Air Conditioner

Test your repair by turning the power to the unit back on and running it. If the drip pan still leaks, there may be a problem with the air conditioner creating too much condensation for the drip pan to accommodate. Another problem could be that the drainpipe is not correctly attached to the drain pan or that there is a corruption in the drain line. These problems will require a deeper search into the machine in order to determine the real source.