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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SE Texas
    Posts
    459

    Walk-In-Freezer Condensate Drain Questions

    I have a walk-in-freezer that, whenever it went into defrost, condensate water was dripping from the drain onto the floor. The drain runs outside and I knew I had big problems because no water was coming out of the drain.

    I pulled the insulation off the drain line and found two gaping splits in the copper tubing. Not only that, whoever fabricated the drain, field fabricated a trap from copper tubing and elbows. The trap was about 3" deep. Also, the braided pipe heat cable was shorted out. Further investigation revealed the leads from the cable ran over the top of the drain pan, over the drain pan heaters and finally to the evaporator coil terminal board. One lead was connected to "N" and one lead was connected to "3" on the evaporator coil terminal board which meant, even if the heat cable wasn't shorted out, it would be energized only when the system went into defrost.

    So, to solve the issue once and for all, I plan on re-piping the drain and doing away with the trap. I plan on replacing the drain line heat cable with a 15' 120V heat cable, wrapping and securing the heat cable around the copper drain line, insulating with 1" wall tubing insulation, installing a dedicated 120V GFCI receptacle behind the evaporator coil and plugging the heat cable into it.

    I asked our staff electrician what he thought and he said he had never heard of installing a receptacle inside a walk-in-freezer for a drain line heat cable. I told him I had seen it done this way many times. Is this what you would do in this situation? In not, what do you suggest I do? Thanks.
    With your chrome heart shining in the sun, long may you run.

  2. #2
    Yes, I see it done. It then gets replaced with a commercial grade 20a device. The sparky showed me the code where it was acceptable. Mostly, it just gets wired in hot off of coil power.
    Oh, the trap...you're gonna want to keep it, just outside the box, above freezing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Mid-Mo
    Posts
    3,596
    Sounds like you are on the right track. I do not have any freezers with receptacles in the freezer itself. We do have a few that the outlet is outside near where the line comes out though. I will usually land one wire on one of your incoming power terminals and the other to ground. I've had a lot of trouble with it only being on during defrost.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    So-Cal
    Posts
    582
    I would just wire it directly to the junction box no plug. Is the trap on the out side of the walk-in or in side? The trap needs to be out side to prevent air being sucked in and causing icing problems.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SE Texas
    Posts
    459
    Quote Originally Posted by smilies View Post
    Yes, I see it done. It then gets replaced with a commercial grade 20a device. The sparky showed me the code where it was acceptable. Mostly, it just gets wired in hot off of coil power.
    Oh, the trap...you're gonna want to keep it, just outside the box, above freezing.
    The evaporator coil is 240V, fed by one hot leg from "N" on the defrost clock. "N" on the defrost clock is one side of line at the condensing unit. The other side of line comes from either "3" for the defrost heaters or "4" for the fans. There is no other non-switched 240V circuit going to the evaporator coil. That's why I think there were issues in the first place because the existing drain heater was being fed by the switched circuit feeding the defrost heaters. Therefore, the drain heater was only energized during defrost. I don't want to do it that way again.

    I do agree with installing a trap in the drain outside the freezer, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by ryan1088 View Post
    Sounds like you are on the right track. I do not have any freezers with receptacles in the freezer itself. We do have a few that the outlet is outside near where the line comes out though. I will usually land one wire on one of your incoming power terminals and the other to ground. I've had a lot of trouble with it only being on during defrost.
    There is no ground at the evaporator coil and, besides that, even if there was one, I don't think NEC allows using ground as neutral. It's no big deal running a dedicated circuit for the drain heater. There's a breaker panel right outside the freezer.

    Quote Originally Posted by jackintheboxtec View Post
    I would just wire it directly to the junction box no plug. Is the trap on the out side of the walk-in or in side? The trap needs to be out side to prevent air being sucked in and causing icing problems.
    Yeah, doing that is an option. Thanks for the suggestion. Definitely installing a trap outside the freezer, too.
    With your chrome heart shining in the sun, long may you run.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    So-Cal
    Posts
    582
    They make those heaters 240V also.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    6,577
    Why not wire it to the fans ? It would be on a lot longer and the pipe would be well heated during the defrost period. If you use a 120v cable where is the neutral coming from ?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SE Texas
    Posts
    459
    Quote Originally Posted by VTP99 View Post
    Why not wire it to the fans ? It would be on a lot longer and the pipe would be well heated during the defrost period. If you use a 120v cable where is the neutral coming from ?
    That's how it was wired before. Besides, if I were to wire the new heater the way it was done before and the way you're suggesting I do it, the leads of the heat cable aren't long enough to get back to the evaporator coil terminal board. I would have to splice onto the leads and the wires would be exposed on the backside of the evaporator coil, which I don't believe is code. Whoever installed the heat cable before, ran the leads over the drain pan, under the evaporator coil and across the drain pan heaters to the terminal board because the leads weren't long enough to run them on the backside of the evaporator into the coil where the terminal board is located. In other words, it was a jack-leg installation.

    As I stated, I plan on running a dedicated circuit from the breaker panel right outside the freezer to a 120V GFCI receptacle behind the evaporator coil. None of you guys have seen receptacles for heat cables inside walk-in-freezers before?
    With your chrome heart shining in the sun, long may you run.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    So-Cal
    Posts
    582
    Yes I've seen it done that way before but its better to wire it directly. With it being plugged in you run the risk of it getting unplugged then your redoing the pipe again.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    6,577
    You said it went to #3 and I'm saying move it to # 4
    Also if you have to splice just use butt connectors with heat shrink tubing.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    NE Alabama
    Posts
    301
    Since we have so many answers I'll add mine. The cheapest fastest most effective method is a heater designed to go inside the drain pipe (available at a refrigeration supply store). You wire it to be on continuously and there is no need for insulation on the drain line. These heaters are braided metal on the outside and feed in to the drain line right at the start in the drain pan with the wiring going to the terminal block where the fans and defrost coils land. On a 208/230 volt system you use the available 208/ 230volt heater or you can get one that is voltage specific 208 vac or 240 vac and land on the incoming terminals supplying voltage to the terminal strips. You'll find only one leg on the fans/heaters is switched on/off by the defrost timer, and choosing the correct terminals will get you power all the time even if you end up jumping to a separate unused terminal to supply your power during fan/heater switching. The braided heaters are available in multiple lengths but aren't designed to go through bends other than the one or two close to the pan so this doesn't work if your running around the walls of the freezer before you exit the freezer wall, but work very well for drains that after 2 or so bends head through the back or side wall.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    376
    I have always prefered Frostex heat tape for freezers. It's self-regulating and since it's not a series heater, it won't burn out even if wrapped over itself. In some cases, I have even ran it through the drain line. It's available in 120 and 240 volt and you cut it to the length you need. I don't think I have ever had one fail on me.

    As far as an outlet inside the box, or one dedicated to the drain line heater, I have seen this on rare occasions. It's fine but it's more costly than you need and you always stand the risk of it getting unplugged.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    543
    I've seen outlets inside the freezer for the drain line heater.

    Powered from the light circuit.

    Convenient place to plug in the light when your working in the freezer.

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