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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Condensate drain issue...photos included

    I received a call from my tenant that the AC system was leaking water. Immediately I thought condensate line must be clogged. As you can see from the second image, the installer did not connect anything to the left side port, which is where the water was leaking (ignore that male connector for the purpose of this discussion).

    It appears the original installer did not install anything on the open port because he ran the drain line across it, so that the filter could be removed, which is another question (why installed right there, instead of on the side). With the drain going across the open port, the installer just left it opened, which does not seem right.

    Question: Should this port have been plugged, or should an adapter and piping been connected, so that a cleaning solution can be dumped into the evaporator to aid in keeping the drain line clear (I notice my unit has this and I was told by the installer to add a cap of bleach to the unit once or twice a year to keep lines clear)

    1st image is my house; 2nd image is rental property

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    Thanks...Al

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    If I understand correctly, the open male pvc connector is something you added to the open port?

    If port is left open then if the condensate builds up, it could leak out that hole. Why would condensate build up, clogged primary drain hole, clogged pvc line, poor draining and high humidity are the most likely.

    pouring bleach into anything is not necessarily a good thing as it is caustic and can cause damage to the equipment and possible health issues.

    many companies do NOT connect the secondary, the open one, drains.
    The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and stamps EVER.
    Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to "Please Do Not Feed the Animals". Their stated reason for this policy "... the animals become dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."
    from an excerpt by Paul Jacob in Sun City, AZ

  3. #3
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    The code says when spillage from a backed up coil pan could cause damage to the building (such as that drywall visible in the second pic) then you must have a secondary safety from 4 choices:
    -drain pan under the unit to approved drainage
    -secondary port to approved drainage
    -drain pan under unit with wet switch
    -secondary port wet switch

    Now the second pic appears to be a pull-through where the blower is downstream of the coil. If that's the case, you'll need a plug in that secondary because it is sucking room air into the coil and can cause spraying. That trap is not approved either so it should be replaced. The weir of the trap must be sufficient to hold a seal against the static pressure created by the blower. The trap must be vented.

    The filter slot must be covered. You can use magnetic strips available at home centers or cheap removable tape.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by pacnw View Post
    If I understand correctly, the open male pvc connector is something you added to the open port?

    Yes, I put it there (not permanent) to see how much room was available for a plug or something - just testing.

    If port is left open then if the condensate builds up, it could leak out that hole. Why would condensate build up, clogged primary drain hole, clogged pvc line, poor draining and high humidity are the most likely.

    The tenants said it didn't start until the 4th (at least noticed it) when they were constantly in and out of the house from the deck - maybe that did it, but I don't want to leave that port open though.

    I vacuumed the drain pipe and only a small amount of black soot came through. Plus, I could feel the suction from the open port as I was vacuuming the drain pipe, so I assume there's no blockage.

    pouring bleach into anything is not necessarily a good thing as it is caustic and can cause damage to the equipment and possible health issues.

    I agree that it's caustic, but I've read where many HVAC folks suggest this method, even the company that installed our unit, but only suggested using this method when the unit is producing water to flush it out of course. If not bleach, what should be used to pour into the unit to help keep lines clear?

    many companies do NOT connect the secondary, the open one, drains.

    Why is that?
    Quote Originally Posted by hearthman View Post
    The code says when spillage from a backed up coil pan could cause damage to the building (such as that drywall visible in the second pic) then you must have a secondary safety from 4 choices:
    -drain pan under the unit to approved drainage
    -secondary port to approved drainage
    -drain pan under unit with wet switch
    -secondary port wet switch

    On option #2 could that be tapped into the existing drain?

    Now the second pic appears to be a pull-through where the blower is downstream of the coil. If that's the case, you'll need a plug in that secondary because it is sucking room air into the coil and can cause spraying. That trap is not approved either so it should be replaced. The weir of the trap must be sufficient to hold a seal against the static pressure created by the blower. The trap must be vented.

    You are correct that it is sucking in air. When I was vacuuming the condensate drain pipe, I could feel suction at the open port.

    The filter slot must be covered. You can use magnetic strips available at home centers or cheap removable tape.

    There's a plate that goes over the filter housing, but the tenants did not know what it was for and left it off, but they know now.
    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

    Al

  5. #5
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    If water is coming out of the open hole then the drain line is backing up.
    As for the open hole, there should be some kind of safety device attached to it to shut off the system if water comes out of that hole.
    Gary
    -----------
    http://www.oceanhvac.com
    An engineer designs what he would never work on.
    A technician works on what he would never design.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by hearthman View Post
    .......... The trap must be vented........................
    You shouldn't need to vent a trap unless the drain line goes uphill somewhere afterwards or if there's no air gap at the drain termination.
    I've seen one or two manufacturers recommend venting the trap but most that I know of do not recommend it.
    Gary
    -----------
    http://www.oceanhvac.com
    An engineer designs what he would never work on.
    A technician works on what he would never design.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyed View Post
    You shouldn't need to vent a trap unless the drain line goes uphill somewhere afterwards
    did you really mean this?

    if drain goes uphill how does it drain, out the vent?
    The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and stamps EVER.
    Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to "Please Do Not Feed the Animals". Their stated reason for this policy "... the animals become dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."
    from an excerpt by Paul Jacob in Sun City, AZ

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Mount Holly, NC
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    3,223
    NO, do not connect the secondary drain to the primary.

    I would remove that drain trap, and install a similar drain trap to what's in your house. field built traps made from 90 elbows are not reliable, especially in rental houses where service is minimal. the trap in your own house is deeper, smoother, and easily cleaned. then I'd install a safety switch to shut off the system if water reaches the secondary port.
    The TRUE highest cost system is the system not installed properly...
    The three big summer hearththrobs...
    Mel Gibson
    Dwane Johnson
    The A/C repairman

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by pacnw View Post
    did you really mean this?

    if drain goes uphill how does it drain, out the vent?
    I'm sure you've seen where the horizontal drain pipe has not been properly supported and it sags at a point forming an unintentional second trap as it droops down and back up. It will still be lower than the main drain in the unit but it will at that point be going uphill. That's what I meant by "goes uphill somewhere" and that's where a vent after the trap helps to keep the drain flowing. I usually put a vent after the trap whenever I can't see the slope of the horizontal portion of the drain line in places like between floors or in a slab. But if I install the drain line and know its sloped properly I don't install the vent.
    Gary
    -----------
    http://www.oceanhvac.com
    An engineer designs what he would never work on.
    A technician works on what he would never design.

  10. #10
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    You can discharge into an approved drain. That incorporates a lot of ways. The common denominator is an air gap. The discharge must exit through an air gap to de-couple the drain from the discharge. The drain will require its own trap if its in any way connected to the building DWV system. This can be a standpipe off the DWV with a trap, air gap, to drain. The discharge point must be "accessible", visible and serviceable.

    Traps without vents don't work any better on condensate drains than they do in sanitary sewers or DWV systems. Under high static pressure, regardless of direction or whether positive or negative pressure, it can syphon/ blow out a trap and thus lose the seal. A vent downstream of the trap assures equalization to atmospheric pressure so the effluent can flow by gravity without losing the seal. This is rarely done but in some cases becomes a must.

    There is much debate as to whether or not an air conditioner's condensate drainage comes under the auspices of the Plumbing Code. When in doubt, contact your local AHJ. Also, they may have local ordinances against discharging condensate into certain places such as basement sub-slab, DWV unless neutralized if acidic, etc.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by vstech View Post
    NO, do not connect the secondary drain to the primary.

    I would remove that drain trap, and install a similar drain trap to what's in your house. field built traps made from 90 elbows are not reliable, especially in rental houses where service is minimal. the trap in your own house is deeper, smoother, and easily cleaned. then I'd install a safety switch to shut off the system if water reaches the secondary port.
    Ok. I see your point. Oh, and another thing the condensate drain line is only 1/2". I know mine is 3/4. Shouldn't it had been 3/4"? Maybe code was different when the house was built or that's all the installer had on the truck. Did the code ever allow 1/2" condensate drain lines?

    Thanks...Al

  12. #12
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    All I see is 3/4" PVC in the OP--not sure where you see 1/2".

    yes, always has been 3/4" min.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by hearthman View Post
    You can discharge into an approved drain. That incorporates a lot of ways. The common denominator is an air gap. The discharge must exit through an air gap to de-couple the drain from the discharge. The drain will require its own trap if its in any way connected to the building DWV system. This can be a standpipe off the DWV with a trap, air gap, to drain. The discharge point must be "accessible", visible and serviceable...
    I'm looking into the safety switch as mentioned by vstech. The problem is the filter location, which looks to make it difficult to get one in the secondary discharge port.

    Quote Originally Posted by hearthman View Post
    All I see is 3/4" PVC in the OP--not sure where you see 1/2".
    yes, always has been 3/4" min.
    It's definitely 1/2" pipes. The 2nd picture kind of makes them look fatter I guess. So, the installer did a bad thing, huh. Btw, the property is in Northern VA.

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