Cracked drain pan in newer Lennox
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  1. #1
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    Frown Cracked drain pan in newer Lennox

    Water drips out of the side of my Lennox GCS12 AC/heater unit that sits on the roof. The leak makes a large puddle on the patio.

    The unit was installed new in July 2005, three years ago.

    Week before last, the company that installed it came out for the twice a year maintenance service and changed the filter. I told him about the leaking. He checked it out, and i thought he said there was no problem.

    But the puddle kept returning and i can see the dripping coming out of the side of the unit.

    So last Monday i called them to say this was still happening. I was given an appointment for Wednesday between 4 and 6. At 5:30 no one had come and i called. I was told i didn't have an appointment on Wednesday, my appointment was from 4 to 6 on Thursday. I had stayed home from work on Wednesday. Apparently they wrote my appointment down for Thursday even though they told me Wednesday.

    I needed to be at work on Thursday. but, i took the afternoon off because i need to have the AC fixed. It was stressful to miss work and not be able to get work done, and to rush home through the traffic.

    I got to my home exactly at 4. The phone was ringing, it was the technician calling, asking if i was there and if he could come over. Then, we talked about the problem, on the phone, and he remembered when he was out the week before, and he said he had tried to fix the problem by sealing the leak when he was there but apparently it didn't work.

    So then he said the drain pan was cracked. He said there was no point in him coming over that day because he needed the drain pan part which would have to be ordered, and also the labor would take a while. I was upset about having to take time off from work just to be told he couldn't fix it until some time in the future. I missed work two days in a row because they gave me appointments and then no one came.

    He said he would call the office and call me back and tell me how much this would cost. He called back and said that usually it costs $750 but since i'm a regular customer, they will do the repair for $475, and he will let me know when the part comes in.

    I did not feel good about this, so today, i called another company and they came out to to look at the unit. The man said the other guy had wrapped duct tape around the drain pipe, which he had to peel off. He said the drain pan was cracked. He said this is a very unusual unheard of repair in newer models, the pan is made of plastic and is made to last many years. He said that the cause of the crack appeared to be that whoever installed it did not provide any support for the drain line. The drain line, as i could see, was hanging in the air, it was not laying on the roof but was suspended about 4 to 6 inches above the roof. He said when water is in the drain line, it can get heavy and the weight of the drain line pulling down has cracked the drain pan. He said that proper installation would've involved putting two by fours under the drain line so that its weight would be supported.

    He also said there was no P trap attached to the the parts and that a P trap needed to be installed.

    He also said that the return duct had come loose and was hanging free and was sucking hot air from my attic, instead of whatever it's supposed to be doing. He said the return duct needed to be reattached.

    So the needed repairs included a new drain pan, repair or alteration of the drain line so that it would either lay on the roof or be supported by 2x4s, installation of a P trap, and re-connecting of the return duct. He said that just replacement of the drain pan with parts and labor would be $375. But he said the additional work, installing the P trap, reconnecting the return duct, fixing the drain line so that it was supported, would bring the cost up higher, he wasn't sure what, but guessed it would be around $700 total.

    He said he recommended that i not have his company do the work. He said that the problems were all the result of improper installation, that i should not have any of these problems with this almost new unit, and that in the 10 years he's been working for this company, he's never seen a cracked drain pan since they've been using plastic. He said that's why the part has to be ordered, they don't keep them on hand because it's not a common repair.

    He said the damage to the drain pan is not from normal wear and tear, and is not from any kind of misuse. It's unrelated to maintenance or lack of.

    So, now, i'm waiting til Monday to call the company that installed the unit and ask them to fix it at their own expense and to make it the way it's supposed to be when installed properly.

    Because i know nothing about any of this, i am posting here in hopes of having some other opinions about the likelihood of a cracked drain pan on a Lennox 12GCS installed in 2005, and whether this is a failure that a customer should have to pay to have fixed. The guy from the second company said that Lennox has a 5 year warranty on parts, but that this is only if they are defective, and that it's probably not a defect in the plastic, in fact, he said there was no sign that the plastic was defective. He said it appeared that the weight of the drain line pulling down on the pan caused it to crack.

    If approaching the company who installed the unit is the right thing to do, i would like pointers on how to ask in a respectful way that invites the company to do the right thing, and i am nervous about the fact that i don't have any technical knowledge about this, and if they tell me that this is a normal wear and tear problem, i don't know what more i can say. I plan to say that i wanted to get a second opinion so i had this other company look at it, considering how new it is, i wanted to double check on having such an expensive repair, and tell them what the other company said--he put it in writing on the invoice for the service call.

    The guy from the second company said if the first company won't agree to fix it, i should call Lennox and ask them for help in solving the problem. He said they are a good company and they could either intervene with the company that installed the unit, or they could pay to have another company fix it.

  2. #2
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    For starters because the installation was done three years ago you are finished with any kind of liabilaties against lennox or the company that installed it. Second because it is on the roof you do not need a p-trap, that is only for noise suppression in a condensate line. And third yes the condensate line should have been dropped down to the roof and supported with 2x4's underneath it, and graded to 1/4" drop per linear foot, their should be no water stading in the condensate drain at any given time

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger93rsl View Post
    because it is on the roof you do not need a p-trap, that is only for noise suppression in a condensate line.
    i don't think you understand what you are talking about

    also, i think you could use some HVAC training

    when your not familiar with the issues you should not comment
    __________________________________________________ ______________________

    to JAW44, get the recommendations of the second tech along with pictures of the install

    ask the service manager or owner of the original installing company to have a meeting with you

    and see if you can get your problem resolved with a nice everyone is happy solution

    this is all common sense stuff, it "sounds like" the second tech. was correct with his diagnosis

    however i can not see your job from here, HVAC is a lot of common sense

    use that common sense to figure out if you think the original installing company

    should fix your problems for free, please let us know what happens



    .

  4. #4
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    Jun 2007
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    ohio
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    yes the install company should eat the cost if alls true, unless some1 else stepped on the drain an broke the pan.. and always use a p trap its not only 4 noise but also helps in proper draining of the pan...maybe a 50/50 deal could be worked out...

  5. #5
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    Mar 2008
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    dude i've never heard of a p-trap being use for noise reduction and most manufacturers spec are for 1/8" per foot......anyways sounds like someone bumped the condensate drain and cracked it IMO....i don't think the weight of the water would have done it. good luck!
    "The things you own end up owning you. "

    Tyler Durden

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by badboyheel View Post
    dude i've never heard of a p-trap being use for noise reduction and most manufacturers spec are for 1/8" per foot......anyways sounds like someone bumped the condensate drain and cracked it IMO....i don't think the weight of the water would have done it. good luck!
    If you ever run across a unit without a p trap and just a tee installed you will hear fan noise comming out the tee along with some air flow. I should say it is more for proper draining of the pan however it also cuts down on blower noise.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrcyber07 View Post
    yes the install company should eat the cost if alls true, unless some1 else stepped on the drain an broke the pan.. and always use a p trap its not only 4 noise but also helps in proper draining of the pan...maybe a 50/50 deal could be worked out...

    thanks. I am trying to find out what is considered 'proper installation.' Particularly, i want to find out about the effects of having or not having a P-trap on the pan, and i want to find out about the effects of the drain line being suspended in the air, hanging from the pan, instead of laying on the roof or supported by 2x4s. Is this considered proper to not have support for the line and not have a P-trap? Will it not harm anything to do it this way? The instruction manual that came with the unit says "the drain line must be properly trapped and routed to a suitable drain." The manual also has in italicized letters, "NOTE: The condensate drain must be properly trapped to provide proper drainage." Are they talking about a P-trap here or are there other kinds of traps that could be properly used by an installer?

    here's some pictures of what it looks like from the outside and the diagram from the Installation Instructions. The photos show the duct tape the guy used to 'fix' the problem when i reported it to him while he was there doing the regular maintenance. You can see that the drain line is off the ground for about 4 or 5 feet before it reaches the roof. It looks like there's a tilting or pulling to the side of the pipe that connects to the pan. i don't know if the diagram is much like the way mine is set up, they look different to me, but of course i'm sure there is variation in the proper way to do this.





  8. #8
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    Thanks for all of your feedback; it was helpful to get a consensus of what experienced people think about the issues involved.

    i called the company that installed the unit today, asked to speak to the head guy, she asked which one, she said there are lots of them. I told her the situation and she connected me to the same guy i talked to when i first contacted them to have the unit installed, the one who oversaw that project.

    I told him i was troubled by having such an expensive repair when the thing is only 3 years old so i called another company for a second opinion, and told him what the other guy said, the drain line unsupported, the lack of a P-trap, the disconnected duct, the extreme rarity of this kind of pan cracking.

    He said P-traps were only necessary if the unit drains into a sewer but not when they just drip off the roof. I pointed out that the installation instructions say installing a trap is necessary. He said he would put a P-trap in if it would make me happy and that it's not a big deal, just a small piece of plastic, but he maintained that it's not needed and that they install without traps all the time.

    He said he does not agree that the drain line needs to be supported with 2x4s, and said he installs lines all the time with them hanging in the air, and that there is "no weight" from the line and it would not cause the pan to crack. He said he's seen pans crack before, after i had said i was told it's extremely rare and they aren't supposed to crack, not on such a recent model. He said the plastic "can dry out" and then it can crack. He said the UV light on the plastic can cause it to become damaged. He said another possibility is that someone tripped over the line and broke the pan. I told him no one has been up there. He said he had no way of knowing that, which is true, he doesn't. Anyway, looking at the line, i can say that if it was laying along the roof and supported by 2x4s, it would be a lot harder for someone to trip over it than it is now with it hanging in the air unsupported. He said if i wanted he would put a strap on the line. I asked if that meant it would be supported by 2x4s. He said no, he didn't intend to do that.

    I told him about the disconnected return duct. He said someone must've knocked it loose. I said that the only people who had been in there were from his company. He said if it was not connected properly, he wouldn't charge me to reconnect it, but otherwise he would charge me for it.

    I asked him whether he thought it was right that when his guy was there the week before to do the maintenance that rather than checking out the leak, he just put duct tape on it. He said that wasn't right, the guy shouldn't have done that. But he was making excuses and justifying it.

    I told him i thought that when the guy came out to do maintenance he should've discovered the disconnected duct. He said they can't find everything.

    He said now, he would have that same guy come and reconnect the duct, replace the drain pan, and if it would make me happy, put in a P-trap and put a strap on the line, and he quoted me a price. The drain pan had already been ordered last week, before i called the other company.

    After i hung up, i called Lennox. They said they aren't responsible for the contractors' work. He said that UV light would not damage the pan for 40 or 50 years, it's been tested. He said in all the time he's worked there, he's never heard of a pan cracking.

    Later, they left a message on my phone machine saying they wanted to come and do the repairs on Thursday. By then, i'd already called the other company and arranged for them to do it (on Thursday). This evening i called them back, to let them know i was not going to have them to the work. It was about 9pm, i was surprised that someone answered the phone. I got his name and told him i wasn't going to have the work done. He said because the pan had already been ordered, "that might be a problem." He said he was "warning" me about that. He was friendly and pleasant but letting me know that because i gave them the go ahead to get the part, that would be some kind of problem (for me, apparently) and tomorrow he would have someone call me about it. I told him the story of why i wasn't having the work done, all the details. At first he said "when you get another company involved, that can be a problem, they will tell you things just to get your business." I told him the other company advised me not to have them do the work but to go back to the company that installed it and ask them to fix it because it wasn't properly installed, which i did, but their representative told me he did not agree with that. He then said i should call in the morning, it could be worked out, he said "We'll make you happy."

    anyway, unless they offer to do all the work for free, i'm through with them.
    of course. The other company's price is substantially more, but i hope and guess that that's because they will do what needs to be done and do it right, and not cut corners.

    Just to think, if i hadn't hired the other guy to come and check behind them, i still wouldn't know that the duct was disconnected and they wouldn't know either, and it would go unrepaired. The guy i talked to earlier was very interested in how the other company could see that the duct was disconnected, he sounded skeptical. He said the guy would have to go into my attic to see it. i dont know if he did. i don't remember him going into the attic. But based on this experience, i think that should be part of routine maintenance, just to check and make sure everything is ok.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airmechanical View Post
    i don't think you understand what you are talking about

    also, i think you could use some HVAC training

    when your not familiar with the issues you should not comment
    __________________________________________________ ______________________

    to JAW44, get the recommendations of the second tech along with pictures of the install

    ask the service manager or owner of the original installing company to have a meeting with you

    and see if you can get your problem resolved with a nice everyone is happy solution

    this is all common sense stuff, it "sounds like" the second tech. was correct with his diagnosis

    however i can not see your job from here, HVAC is a lot of common sense

    use that common sense to figure out if you think the original installing company

    should fix your problems for free, please let us know what happens



    .
    Been in the business for 15 years and I have never seen a P trap installed on a roof top that is indirectly waisted, it is to be disposed of down a storm drain only. However I do see a benifet of installing a p trap on a roof top unit but it will still drain without one installed.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airmechanical View Post

    to JAW44, get the recommendations of the second tech along with pictures of the install

    ask the service manager or owner of the original installing company to have a meeting with you

    and see if you can get your problem resolved with a nice everyone is happy solution

    this is all common sense stuff, it "sounds like" the second tech. was correct with his diagnosis

    however i can not see your job from here, HVAC is a lot of common sense

    use that common sense to figure out if you think the original installing company

    should fix your problems for free, please let us know what happens



    .
    thanks for the suggestion. I thought i would just call the manager or owner on the phone, but it seems better to have a meeting. I guess i will call and speak to him on the phone and tell him i need for him to come and look at the installation because my understanding is that the pan should not have cracked under normal use so i don't understand why i am having this expensive repair. I guess i should also tell him i had another company come out to get a second opinion and that they said the drain line needs to be supported and a P-trap is needed. I'm also concerned about the return duct being disconnected. Is that common? Shouldn't they fix that?
    anyway, thanks!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaw444 View Post
    I'm also concerned about the return duct being disconnected. Is that common? Shouldn't they fix that? anyway, thanks!

    they are not gonna fix that for free!

    but it deffinately needs to be fixxed!



    .

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airmechanical View Post
    they are not gonna fix that for free!

    but it deffinately needs to be fixxed!



    .


    Any ideas what could cause the duct to disconnect? Is this normal wear and tear? Is it something that i somehow caused by misuse?

    Is it very common for people to have so many different problems like this with a 3 year old unit? I don't remember hearing people with newer units talk about having problems. I hear people say "I've had my air conditioner for 15 years and i think i may need to get a new one," and things like that, but for $8500 three years ago, is it really normal to need re-running the drain line, replacing the drain pan, installing a P-trap and reconnecting the return duct after three years?

    wow. i had no idea that this was normal and acceptable quality. I never had an AC before. This is my mom's house, she's 90 with dementia. I lived by the beach and never needed AC. I just naively assumed this was not something that needed a lot of repairs. Before we got my mom to install this AC, she had an evaporative cooler on the roof that was decades old and never required repair. i guess they don't make them like they used to. buyer beware, huh?

    I had heard the Lennox was a good brand, but I'll try another brand next time because i just can't accept that all of them have this many problems so soon after they are installed. When i was first looking into which one to get, people were telling me that their ACs were trouble free.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger93rsl View Post
    For starters because the installation was done three years ago you are finished with any kind of liabilaties against lennox or the company that installed it. Second because it is on the roof you do not need a p-trap, that is only for noise suppression in a condensate line. And third yes the condensate line should have been dropped down to the roof and supported with 2x4's underneath it, and graded to 1/4" drop per linear foot, their should be no water stading in the condensate drain at any given time
    thanks for the reply. If the lack of proper support for the drain line and lack of proper trapping contributed to the cracked pan, do you think when they replace the pan they should also fix the drain line so that it's supported and install a P-trap? In another post, i read that you said you don't usually see P-traps on older models. Mine was manufactured in 2005. Is that considered to be an older model?

    When you say the installer wouldn't have any liability after 3 years, does this mean even if there's clear evidence of improper installation, if there is such evidence?
    thanks

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