Do you want to find the best condensate pump for your furnace or A/C?
Condensate pumps are sometimes needed to pump condensate (water) to the outside or to a distant drain.
In this product review guide, I will go over...
- My #1 top pick for the best condensate removal pump
- How condensate pumps work
- Things to consider when buying a new condensate pump
- Common malfunctions with condensate pumps
Let's get started with this guide!
My Overall #1 Rated Pick
My overall top pick for the best condensate pump goes to the Little Giant VCMA Series Condensate Pump. This 1/2 gallon pump has a stainless steel cover and will automatically remove condensate from your A/C or furnace.
It is specially equipped to handle the acidic condensate from high efficiency furnaces. It also comes with a safety switch to automatically turn off your A/C (or also wired to a water alarm).
Little Giant VCMA Series
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Little Giant VCL Series
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Little Giant VCMX Series
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My Top 5 Picks For Best Condensate Pumps
Are you short on time? To skip the details, and see my top picks, check out my list below. If you want more information and their pros and cons, keep scrolling.
What Are Condensate Pumps?
Condensate pumps are specialized water pumps design to remove water (condensate) from air conditioners, high efficiency furnaces, boilers, and dehumidifiers when using gravity isn't feasible.
These water pumps are usually installed in homes when a floor drain isn't close by, or if installing condensate piping to a drain would pose a tripping hazard.
When the A/C is on, it naturally produces condensate or liquid water as part of the air conditioning process. Many homeowners are not aware that air conditioners dehumidify the air (removing moisture) when the air is cooled.
Especially in humid areas of the country, an air conditioner can produce up to 20 gallons of condensate per day.
High Efficiency Furnaces
In addition to air conditioners, modern high efficiency furnaces can produce a significant amount of condensate.
Since these furnaces are so efficient --- up to 98.5% --- much more heat is pulled from the heated gas unlike low/medium efficiency furnaces. In fact, there is so much more energy pulled from the heated gas, that it actually allows it to cool down and produce condensate.
Condensate pumps are also used together with dehumidifiers so homeowners don't have to worry about constantly pouring out the water tank. If you have a moist basement, having a dehumidifier and a condensate pump can greatly help to automatically remove basement moisture.
Damaged HVAC Systems From Poor Drainage
I have seen many air conditioners that have been damaged by an inadequate condensate draining system.
If the condensate piping gets clogged, water can back up into the evaporator coil, and cause significant rusting and damage. I have also seen many blower motors and even furnace burners damaged by water and rusting.
Installing a quality condensate pump, and making sure the condensate lines are working properly (clear of debris and sloped downwards) can help avoid future HVAC damage.
Read Also: Top 5 Best HVAC Leak Detectors
How To Install A Condensate Pump?
Installing a condensate pump is a pretty simple DIY job for a handy homeowner. Here are a few general steps to install a condensate pump, though every install will be a little different. Here it goes...
#1. Unpack The Pump
New condensate pumps will have a cardboard insert that secures the float switch during shipping. This insert will have to be removed prior to operation.
#2. Mount The Pump
Even though many condensate pumps are loosely laid on the floor, they are supposed to be secured to either the air handler or to a wall. Condensate pumps have two slots on the side that are used to screw the unit to the furnace or wall. You want to make sure that the pump is flat and that it is below the condensate drain pan.
#3. Connect Drain Piping
Its time to connect 3/4" PVC drain piping from the furnace or A/C into one of the top inlets. Its a good practice to cut the end of the PVC in a sharp slant (not flat) in order to prevent any type of suction. Insert PVC drain piping at least 1-inch into the pump.
#4. Connect Discharge Tubing
The standard size for the condensate discharge tubing is 3/8" and is usually clear and made out of vinyl. Clear tubing will help you notice any blocks to the line such as algae or mineral deposit build up. Its a good idea to secure vinyl tubing with a small clamp to the check valve.
#5. Secure Discharge Tubing
You will want to install the vinyl tubing at first vertically to your required height, and then horizontally. You want the horizontal portion of the discharge tubing to be sloped downwards to help draining. Most lids on condensate pumps can be reversed if you want the discharge tubing on the other side of the pump.
#6. Connect Safety Switch Or Alarm
If the condensate pump has extra wiring for a safety switch, then you must connect these wires in series with the low voltage thermostat circuit. This will turn off the furnace or A/C automatically if the condensate pump fails or overflows. You can also connect these wires to a water alarm instead.
(An update to the International Plumbing Code requires a safety switch to be connected if the condensate pump is located in an unfinished space such as an attic or crawlspace. Without this safety precaution, an overflowing condensate pump can cause significant structural damage to the home.)
#7. Plug In Pump
Now is the time to plug in the pump, usually just a 3-pronged plug to a standard 120-volt outlet --- usually GFCI protected. If there is no plug, you will have to hardwire the pump to the furnace.
#8. Test The Condensate Pump
I recommend verifying that the pump is working by pouring in water into one of the extra inlet holes on the top of the pump. You can use a watering can used to water flowers. Pour it up to the top of the pump until the float activates.
Read Also: Top 5 Best Rated Washable AC Filters
How to Pick the Best Condensate Pump?
1. GPM Or GPH (Gallons Per Minute Or Hour) Rate
This measurement is critical in determining how much water can the pump remove per minute or per hour. To determine this number, each unit comes with a pre-determined or pre-tested discharge rate.
The GPM /GPH rate lists how many gallons can be removed per minute once the pump is activated.
In general, the average AC condensate pump can remove twice the amount of condensation depending on its tank size. As a result, it’s best to invest in a unit with at least a 1-gallon tank for maximum results.
2. Safety Switch
Its a smart move to buy a condensate pump with a safety switch. This special switch is connected to the furnace or A/C so that it will turn it off automatically if the condensate pump fails or overflows. These low voltage wires can also be connected to a water alarm instead if you prefer.
Depending on the system, a certain amount of power is needed to remove water from the drain pan. With a traditional residential unit, it’s acceptable to use a 120 volt outlet.
For larger units, the system may require a 220 volt outlet for more power.
It’s important to assess the property’s needs along with how much condensate is produced by the A/C unit.
The amount of horsepower generated by the HVAC condensate pump can help determine how much water it can pump out. In most cases, the average residential condensate pump is going to have no more than 1/30-1/50 hp.
With larger units, the furnace condensate pump may offer up to 1/3 hp.
Just like the voltage, it’s important to begin by assessing the property’s HVAC system and how much condensate it produces per day. This can help determine how much horsepower is required to keep the system in check.
Measure the pump to make sure it can be placed next to the A/C unit.
Remember, the condensate pump needs to be installed nearby the condensate drain pan and will actively remove excess water once the HVAC is operating. This means it needs to have enough space so the pump doesn’t get in the way or so the drain line doesn’t get damaged with people walking over it.
How durable is the air conditioner condensate pump?
The best A/C condensate pump should be made of high-grade materials such as galvanized steel. This is the only way to make sure the pump doesn’t break down as soon as the HVAC system produces condensate.
When a condensate pump can’t remain durable, it starts slowing down. This can compromise the system, how it performs, and how consistent it is throughout the day.
Read Also: Top 5 Best Rated UV Lights For HVAC
Where to Buy the Best Furnace Condensate Pumps?
To buy the best ac condensate pumps, it’s highly recommended to find a top of the line online retailer such as Amazon.
Amazon is well accepted as one of the finest options for property owners. It offers a wonderful selection of A/C condensate pumps. These pumps come equipped with great safety standards, top features, and the ability to work with any HVAC system.
What Are The Best Condensate Pumps?
Here are my top picks with their pros and cons...
My #1 top pick for the best condensate goes to the Little Giant VCMA Series.
This 1/30 HP pump will automatically remove condensate from your air conditioner, high efficiency furnace, or even a dehumidifier.
It comes with a safety switch that can be wired to automatically turn off the A/C or to an alarm in case of an overflow. This Little Giant pump is also suitable for high efficiency furnaces that produce acidic condensate.
- 1/30 HP to automatically remove water
- Suitable for high efficiency furnaces with acidic condensate
- Comes with safety switch to automatically turn off A/C
- Mostly plastic parts
- Poor instructions
The VCL Series is a power-packed option by LITTLE GIANT offering a 1-gallon tank, state-of-the-art features, and a well-designed look.
It’s ideal for residential properties and quietly removing condensate without hurting the HVAC system’s overall performance.
It comes with all the necessary equipment and offers a straightforward installation process for those requiring a seamless addition to their room.
- Easy to Set Up
- Professional-Grade Design
- Fast-Acting Results
- Average User Manual
The Beckett A/C Condensate Pump is a new addition to the company’s top-tier line of medium-sized pumps.
It is designed in accordance with modern safety standards and remains engineered to uphold user-friendly requirements.
The pump has a unique design with Beckett’s patented look and promises to offer a quiet addition to the room. The pump includes an all-encompassing dual-float design to improve the system’s quality, durability, and consistency.
- Quiet Operation
- Easy to Install
- Consistent Results
- Below-Par Float
- Average Build-Quality
- Beautiful Design
- Powerful Removal of Water
- Quiet Operation
- Discharge Can Leak a Bit
- Small Tank
- High Safety Standards
- Easy to Set Up
- Powerful Output
- Too Large for Some Setups
- Can be Noisy at Times
My overall #1 top pick goes to the Little Giant VCMA Series pump. Here's why...
1. Automated Removal
With the VCMA Series, LITTLE GIANT impresses using automated features to remove condensate from the A/C unit. For a modern condensate pump to remain effective, it needs to detect the water, automate the removal process, and ensure the HVAC system continues to work. In this case, the LITTLE GIANT Condensate Pump is packed with quality and works wonderfully as soon as it is set up.
2. Galvanized Steel
To emphasize the pump’s durability, LITTLE GIANT offers a complete galvanized steel cover to protect the motor and pump. This comes with a stainless steel finish based on UL and CSA standards. The condensate pump is also equipped with special inlet openings for more control.
3. Built-in Safety Switch
Safety is always important and that’s what the VCMA Series is all about. LITTLE GIANT promotes high safety standards using an automated safety switch when the tank overflows. This keeps both the A/C unit and condensate pump safe when the system isn’t functioning as needed.
4. Large Tank
A large tank is essential when it comes to managing the condensate being produced. Due to its half gallon tank capacity, this LITTLE GIANT Condensate Pump is a wonderful addition to any setup. It also comes with a versatile 6-foot power cord to make the installation process easier.