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  1. #1

    Please help - Which condensate drain is leaking, primary or secondary?

    Hi, I am so confused, hoping someone can shed light… In a nutshell, what appears to be a secondary condensate drain is dripping water outside. I understand that usually means clog in primary drain -- so I’m looking for where primary drain exits house, but I can’t find it, so I have no idea how to clean it out.

    Now for some details…

    Recently moved into this 7-yr-old two-story house, have run a/c only few times. Couple days ago, I had been running the a/c, and I was outside on side of house, and noticed water dripping profusely from a pipe above the kitchen window (pipe is between 1st and 2nd stories). Here’s a photo of that pipe:
    Name:  window.jpg
Views: 2220
Size:  44.6 KB

    Googled, and started thinking this is a secondary condensate drain pipe that’s meant to alert us to a problem with the primary drain.

    The Carrier indoor unit is located on 2nd floor, in a closet. Vertical positioning, with the return air coming from underneath. There is no visible drip pan. There are 2 pvc drain lines coming from the unit. One line (slightly lower) is on left, has a trap installed. What I assume is the secondary drain line (slightly higher) is on right, no trap installed. Both run out the wall, and I can’t see where they go after that. Also, unit has a sticker on it that says: “This unit is equipped with an AquaGuard condensate shut-off switch. If unit is not operating properly, check for condensate in drain pan or tray.” Here are photos:
    Name:  trap.jpg
Views: 2168
Size:  48.0 KBName:  hvac.jpg
Views: 2210
Size:  40.4 KB

    So, I’ve been assuming the exterior pipe coming out from wall above kitchen window is the secondary pipe, because why would they run the primary line to drip in such a conspicuous place all the time, hitting the window ledge and splashing water…

    But the strange thing is, from what I can tell, there is no other drain outlet outside – it seems in researching online that the primary drain outlet is usually a pvc pipe near the outdoor HVAC unit -- and I’m seeing people use a wet/dry vac on that to clean out primary drain clogs.

    But ours doesn’t appear to have one at all. I’ve checked around entire house, and the only thing resembling a pipe anywhere on the first floor is a set of two pipes, not pvc, built into the brick wall, and they’re behind the laundry room, so I’m guessing they have to do with washer/dryer? Here’s that photo:
    Name:  pipes.jpg
Views: 2663
Size:  67.7 KB

    So I’m stumped. Where is my primary condensate drain line draining?... How can I clean it out if there’s no exterior outlet?...

    Also, I just talked to my neighbor who also has 2-story house (he also has no obvious drain pipe near outdoor unit) – and he said that he too has a pipe on back of house, right above kitchen window, that drips water sometimes. So do I have this all wrong, and that 2nd floor pipe is actually the primary line? Am I worrying for nothing?

    Thanks for wading through the details, and thank you for any help you can offer.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    North Dakota
    Posts
    518
    all any one can do is follow and or inturpret where they travel to as it may tie into a waste line inside the house or dump into a floor drain theres no two installs the same with the exception of an identical house in your sub. ?
    they start out going in two directions I assume as you have thats the secondary drain above the window
    it is likely they'll have to open the plenum to acess the coil/pan for cleaning and or drain flush?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Northern VA 38 degrees N by 76 degrees W
    Posts
    5,060
    Quote Originally Posted by beth32 View Post
    Hi, I am so confused, hoping someone can shed light… In a nutshell, what appears to be a secondary condensate drain is dripping water outside. I understand that usually means clog in primary drain -- so I’m looking for where primary drain exits house, but I can’t find it, so I have no idea how to clean it out.

    Now for some details…

    Recently moved into this 7-yr-old two-story house, have run a/c only few times. Couple days ago, I had been running the a/c, and I was outside on side of house, and noticed water dripping profusely from a pipe above the kitchen window (pipe is between 1st and 2nd stories). Here’s a photo of that pipe:
    Name:  window.jpg
Views: 2220
Size:  44.6 KB

    Googled, and started thinking this is a secondary condensate drain pipe that’s meant to alert us to a problem with the primary drain.

    The Carrier indoor unit is located on 2nd floor, in a closet. Vertical positioning, with the return air coming from underneath. There is no visible drip pan. There are 2 pvc drain lines coming from the unit. One line (slightly lower) is on left, has a trap installed. What I assume is the secondary drain line (slightly higher) is on right, no trap installed. Both run out the wall, and I can’t see where they go after that. Also, unit has a sticker on it that says: “This unit is equipped with an AquaGuard condensate shut-off switch. If unit is not operating properly, check for condensate in drain pan or tray.” Here are photos:
    Name:  trap.jpg
Views: 2168
Size:  48.0 KBName:  hvac.jpg
Views: 2210
Size:  40.4 KB

    So, I’ve been assuming the exterior pipe coming out from wall above kitchen window is the secondary pipe, because why would they run the primary line to drip in such a conspicuous place all the time, hitting the window ledge and splashing water…

    But the strange thing is, from what I can tell, there is no other drain outlet outside – it seems in researching online that the primary drain outlet is usually a pvc pipe near the outdoor HVAC unit -- and I’m seeing people use a wet/dry vac on that to clean out primary drain clogs.

    But ours doesn’t appear to have one at all. I’ve checked around entire house, and the only thing resembling a pipe anywhere on the first floor is a set of two pipes, not pvc, built into the brick wall, and they’re behind the laundry room, so I’m guessing they have to do with washer/dryer? Here’s that photo:
    Name:  pipes.jpg
Views: 2663
Size:  67.7 KB

    So I’m stumped. Where is my primary condensate drain line draining?... How can I clean it out if there’s no exterior outlet?...

    Also, I just talked to my neighbor who also has 2-story house (he also has no obvious drain pipe near outdoor unit) – and he said that he too has a pipe on back of house, right above kitchen window, that drips water sometimes. So do I have this all wrong, and that 2nd floor pipe is actually the primary line? Am I worrying for nothing?

    Thanks for wading through the details, and thank you for any help you can offer.
    Looking at your second picture, the pipe exiting on the left and turning right with the trap and vent is the primary

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Joplin,Missouri
    Posts
    310
    The one on the left is the primary no doubt about it. The secondary is the one draining above the window. The primary probably drains in a plumbing line in the wall somewhere or it could possibly be lne of those other lines in tbe pics.What I would do is get an air tank and blow pressure through that vent on the trap and see if you can clear the restriction. If not you may have to a pro to clear it. I usually used compressed nitrogen but if the clog isn't too stubborn an air tank should clear it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Joplin,Missouri
    Posts
    310
    Sorry for the spelling small buttons on my phone drives me nuts

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Northern VA 38 degrees N by 76 degrees W
    Posts
    5,060
    A wet and dry vac will work better and will not cause damage from pipe separation if not glued

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    2,981
    Quote Originally Posted by second opinion View Post
    A wet and dry vac will work better and will not cause damage from pipe separation if not glued
    I learned that lesson the hard way. Un-glued joint in the wall....

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by second opinion View Post
    A wet and dry vac will work better and will not cause damage from pipe separation if not glued
    Confused -- How can I use a wet/dry vac if there is no external outlet to the primary drain?

    Also, for the future, I would like to do the yearly bleach trick -- but I don't see a hole for that in the primary line, so... I'm just out of luck?
    If I poured enough bleach in the trap cleanout hole, I guess it would eventually rise to the level of the pipe... but then I'd have bleach sitting in the bottom of the trap, which I understand is not good for PVC... Right?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    7,681
    The ptrap's probably just gunked up.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,818
    look under the bathroom sink downstairs to see if the drain ties in there. also could be tied in to the back of the washer drain.
    We really need change now

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,818
    with summer upon us i would call for service and a complete cooling check .
    We really need change now

  12. #12
    Thank you everyone for the input. The leaking from the secondary pipe has miraculously stopped, so we'll wait and see what happens. So appreciate your help!

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