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recycling air conditioner condensate

July 18, 2008

i decided to place a bucket under the pipe that drains water from my home central air conditioner unit as it was causing the exterior wall to be wet.

i was surprised how much water collects. it is probably about 2-3 gallons a day. i now use this to water my plants. with temps in north arkansas hitting 100 F this week, this is looking like a good idea.


Comments (33)

  • daniellalell

    I have been watering my rhodo this way for the last 3 years. Was worried about it at first when DH started doing it, but rhodo is doing great. The AC water & rain is all it gets.
    I also put containers under my down spouts to collect the rain water.
    Def a saver!

  • dorisl

    I remember getting FIFTEEN gallons in a day last year, the maters lerved it!

    unforunately, we had to reconfigure things and now it goes out thru the sump pump, which is good for the flower garden by the outlet, but no maters.


  • tuscanseed

    We added a plastic extension tube to the metal discharge pipe and the water drains to a nearby garden with clethra. They love it!

  • jroot

    Gosh, I wonder if it is legal in Colorado. LOL

    See previous posting:


  • billinpa

    lol The same thought came to mind.

    Mine runs into a condensate pump (its below grade) and pump right out into my tomato bed :) Only way they get watered except for the rain.

  • sean_m

    I've been (re)using my AC's condensate for over a year now. I initially started reusing it because I was getting terrible erosion problems with the sheer volume of water being produced by the unit (10-50 gallons/day). So, we dug a trench & ran a french drain through the top part of the garden (terrain slopes down towards the property line). There'a funnel receptacle w/dome screen at the top of the french drain pipe.

    Let's just say you could definitely tell the difference where the AC's water went during the dry season. And we even have an in-ground irrigation system here.

    I'd caution people to use some solution which allows the condensate to overflow outside if the "additions" fail, such as an air gap between the original pipe and the receiving end of your new plumbing, etc. You really don't want critters going inside your air con via your new plumbing hack, nor do you want water backing up inside your house when the add-on plumbing clogs.

  • pvel

    just a follow-up to my original post.i am very pleased with my idea to collect the a/c condensate. it is more than i had originally expected, maybe about 10 gallons a day and my vegetables and flowers love this extra water during our current 100 degree days.the ground near the a/c used to be soggy and is now dry, which is a bonus.paul

  • roseyp8255

    great idea - i am plannign to do some front landscaping around the foundation (currently bare) and have been worrying about watering - guess that could be why the weeds have no problems growing there even in this drought!

  • ladygreensleeves

    I has been collecting and watering my plants with the AC run off for years now. I have found that all my plants love this water. My gardenia's esp. love it and have had great success rooting cuttings with it.
    And with the dry seasons and water restrictions I had to find ways to save. I get a 5 gallon bucket and half another one a day. I use kitty litter buckets that have fliptop lids so that if I don't use the water that day, mosquitoes don't breed in them. Also collect rainwater in barrels.

  • dans_le_jarden

    I sit a large foam cooler(with drainage holes) and fill bottom with cans (so it doesn't take so much soil to fill) I fill with potting soil .Place under drip for the summer. when I take cuttings, I stick them in until new growth appears, then, pot up or plant in the garden. Barb in Ar.

  • mommix3

    We've started this summer. It works out great for our small flower bed and the hanging baskets. We get around about 10 gallons a day. Works out great!! And saves on the water bill.

  • roddydc5

    I came up with a way to recycle water and kitty litter plastic jugs

    Here is a link that might be useful: Air conditioner condensate recycle

  • mksmth zone 7a Tulsa Oklahoma

    i use those same jugs. The tidy cat ones hold about 2.5 gallons and I am getting 4-5 a day. sure helps the water bill.

  • gatorfilms_gmail_com

    since it is cold water, I wonder if sending it through a radiator connected to the ac return air would help cool the house somewhat, before dumping or saving the water somewhere. Also, could the water be used to fill toilets somehow?

  • bootscootengal

    great info guys. i crawled under the house and redid the pvc pipe to run outside the house and run into 5 gal. buckets. am getting 5/6 buckets A DAY. lov it. thanks guys. joyce

  • lizziem62

    i also do this with my dehumidifier. isnt it amazing how much it adds up that we can save!

  • capoman

    I use condensate from my ground source heat pump to top up my rain barrels during a drought. I've measured it, and it's 60ppm pH 5.5 compared to the rainwater which is 30ppm and pH 6.0. This is much better then my tapwater which is 260ppm and pH 8. Plant seem to love it.

  • pippi21

    I deliver the community newspaper to 32 houses in our Sr. Community twice a month and I noticed that the two bedroom units; their A/C/heating units are located in an outside corner of their garage and I often see people having a container to catch the condensation that comes out and I'm sure they are watering their plants with it too.

  • gunnersm8

    yep all summer ill get 5-6 gal a day. if i cant use it to water garden, ill pour in rain barrel. if thats full, ill find something to water, or give it to the dog. he likes it. helps alot here in VA during the mid-late summer when rain barrels get low, but AC is stroking.

  • KatyaKatya

    Nice! Mine drains under the bushes around the porch. It is a southern-looking slope, really baking in summer, and they are fine, I never water them.

  • Resident-Reviewer

    This is amazing how much water one can get in a day, huh!

    I wonder if there is any reason to believe that the water you get from the condensate is unsuited for human consumption. Maybe after cooking it?

    Has anyone given it to pets to drink?


  • toxcrusadr

    Resident, the only thing I'd be concerned about is mold or bacteria growing in the condenser or anywhere the water is stored, like in a dehumidifier bucket. It should be quite safe as far as chemicals are concerned though.

  • Resident-Reviewer

    Thanks, That sounds wonderful. So if one consumes the water quickly and not let it be stored or stale, sounds like the water would be kosher to drink.

  • S_J_D

    Is there any issue with using the water on edible plants? I read the water can contain lead and other contaminants. I'm not sure if the levels are enough to warrant concern

    Here is a link that might be useful: Alliance for water efficiency

  • toxcrusadr

    SJD, sorry I dod not see your post last week, but hopefully you'll check back and see this.

    There should be no concern whatsoever about using the water for plants. It is probably the better part of wisdom not to drink it, because it doesn't take much lead (15 ppb) to exceed the drinking water standard, and until someone actually tests it, you don't really know.

    It's different with soil, though. It actually takes a huge amount (relatively speaking) to contaminate a garden, which has tons and tons of soil, to a level that is even distinguishable from background. I found a reference on Wiki last year about this, and made comments on it. Simple calculations show that even a pound of pure lead (which is probably way more than there is in an entire air conditioner) could be distributed in a 20x20 garden and would barely increase the level in soil above the typical background in most soils. So there's nothing to worry about as far as watering with it.

    If there was a disaster and I had to drink AC condensate, I'd probably run it through a Brita filter, just in case. :-]

  • Resident-Reviewer

    S_J_D I agree with toxcusadr(sp?)... regarding the lead content.

    The link you are posting to "allianceforwaterefficiency" has some interesting quotes, one of them being:

    "The water should NEVER be used for human consumption as it may contain heavy metals from contact with the cooling coils and other HVAC equipment."

    They use shouting (all caps), but absolutely no evidence to substantiate their claims.

    Naturally, I go to Join/Charter Sponsors and see some big city governments, Home Depot Foundation, and other highly biased sources as sponsors...

    What if it turns out that anyone with the $100 air conditioner does not need access to public water supply? Ouch!

  • Michael AKA Leekle2ManE

    Personally, I have been using the run-off from my AC to keep my Butterfly Pool nice and wet. The pool is an old fountain base that was found in an overgrown and vacant yard. It needed a little work to plug a few holes, but once that was done, I filled it with playground sand and let the run-off fill it to the top. All leveled out, the sand is about 1" from the rim, but I keep it mounded in the center. Since putting it in, I have seen only a few butterflies at it. However, I have also seen prints from birds feet in the sand and one morning while doing my rounds I found a nice undulating trail through the sand that coiled momentarily at the center before slithering out the other side. I can only assume it is the juvenile Eastern Coachwhip that I see ever few months.

  • imagineaa

    Hi, this is an old thread but I do have some potentially useful info to add. My main question with reusing condensate has been safety for edible plants. I found the following info, which indicates there are concerns about contaminants with air conditioner condensate.

    So anyway, I'm going to use it for non-edible plants.

    I noticed others are saying the water is cold. Mine is hot, almost intolerable to the touch. (I'm in Phoenix.) And yes, I had a professional confirm it is not from the hot water heater--it's from the AC. Maybe I will try shading the spigot.

    I could easily just attach a hose to it, bring the hose to the plants and bury it. But...the water will probably be hot enough to kill the plants. I'm trying to think of an idea to cool it off. Any ideas would be helpful.

    I am planning to turn that part of the yard into a little oasis area with a hot tub, so I'd like to have nice plants nearby. Right now it has only a shed and that spigot from the air conditioner that's constantly dripping condensate.

    Link to info about contaminants from saws.org

  • bootscootengal

    imagineea.....mine is ice cold. need to have someone check yours out. it really does sound like it is coming from hot water tank. don't want that thing to run dry.

  • Ashwin Campbell

    I've been watering my garden for about 10 years using this method then yesterday I bought a kiddie pool for my son. Decided to try filling it with the air con and after 10 hours it's half full! Now I will double recycle, first my kid can play then I'll sprinkle it on the garden.

  • bootscootengal

    great way to recycle!!

  • Scott Thomas

    Ashwin Campbell... Please research this further before using in a child's pool. From what I have found there is a chance of contracting an illness from this in some cases.

  • imagineaa

    I just found more concerning info in this article. The author's credentials seem legit.

    He's saying it's not even safe to pump it directly into a swimming pool without treatment, because of Legionella.

    I was just about to buy a birdbath and pump to be fed by the condensate and overflow onto the lawn. Now I'm worried I'll give lead poisoning or Legionella to the birds. :(

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