If you live in an area where drought is a concern but you would like to have lush grass in your lawn, there is something you can do – it's called condensate recovery. This is a process of using the condensation from air conditioning systems to meet various needs, which in your case is to water your lawn. Here's what you need to know.
The condensation inside your air conditioner
During the process of removing warm or hot air and replacing it with cooled air, your air conditioner also acts like a dehumidifier. The moisture (humidity) that is in the warm air condenses inside your air conditioner and is called condensate. The amount of condensate that collects inside a typical home air conditioning system largely depends on the humidity level and indoor and outdoor temperatures.
This condensate collects in a drain pan, which is usually located at the bottom of the air conditioning unit. The drain pan has a float device that activates a switch when the condensate level reaches a certain height. At that point, the drain opens and the condensate goes into either a sewer drain or a sump pump pit, depending on the way the system is configured.
Some air conditioning systems have a secondary pan that works to collect any overflow in case the main drain pan fails. This is to help prevent flooding and water damage due to the amount of condensation that air conditioners produce.
The amount of condensation can be alarming
Typically, this can be as much as almost 12 gallons of water on a day when the outdoor temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit with 71% humidity and the indoor temperature is 55 degrees with 40% humidity. Now consider how much condensation an air conditioner can produce when temperatures and humidity levels are more drastic, and you begin to understand how much water is going down the drain and being wasted.
Condensation is similar to distilled water but needs treatment
Since condensate comes from moisture in the air, there is little to no mineral content, which makes it similar to distilled water. Ground water is often high in mineral content due to the way groundwater collects minerals as it moves through soil and rock. Therefore, condensate from your air conditioning system is suitable water for many purposes, including watering your lawn.
However, microorganisms and bacteria (such as Legionnaires') could be present in the water, so there has to be some precautionary measures taken before this water can be used. The last thing you'll want to do is to shoot an aerosol spray of Legionnaires' disease throughout your neighborhood as you water your lawn with a sprinkler system using the condensate you recovered from your air conditioning unit.
Therefore, you'll need to treat the condensate to remove harmful microorganisms and bacteria. This can be done in several ways, including installing a water treatment system or heating the water to boiling to kill the microorganisms and bacteria. Speak with a water treatment specialist for the best system to suit your needs.
Install a condensate recovery system to use for your irrigation needs
After you've determined which type of water treatment system would work best, you'll need to have the condensate drain line reconfigured by your air conditioning contractor or a plumber. The new drain line will need to go to a holding tank or directly to your water treatment system, depending on the type of system you choose. From there, an irrigation system can be connected so your lawn can be watered automatically or at the flip of a switch.
If you do not wish to invest in a water treatment system, you may still be able to use the condensate to water your lawn. However, you'll need to install a sub-ground irrigation system so harmful bacteria is not able to become aerosolized and affect you, your family, or your neighbors. However, a water treatment system is the best idea.
For more information ,you may want to contact a local HVAC technician.