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Thread: Severely Undersized Ductless Generating Weird Powder in Drain Pan

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    Severely Undersized Ductless Generating Weird Powder in Drain Pan

    So this 70 year-old, 2-story home has a gas boiler for heat, and the home owners added a single head LG ductless mini-split (not installed by us - was installed by a relative not in the field, who was trying to do them a favor). The head was installed in their living room / den on the first floor - but the entire first floor is open. There are 4 big rooms on the first floor and they are all open to another with no separation or a half wall at most. They did not even get a unit big enough for the room that it is in, let alone for the entire first floor when you consider it is one giant room (plus there is no AC on the second floor). They basically just put it above their couch to blow down cold air on them when they sit there, not to cool the room.

    After every month of usage (this has been going on for years they told us), the head on the mini-split clogs. The unit is pitched properly and the drain is done correctly. As far as I am aware, they do not use any unusual chemicals, cleaners, meth lab, etc in the home. But it is a very old home if that matters. What's really strange is the stuff that clogs the drain is a weird powder that looks like graphite powder.

    Anyway, I talked to a tech support guy from LG and he said that it is due to the unit being severely undersized and from the unit having the run constantly. Does anyone know what this residue is or ever seen it before? Or why being undersized causes this powder? - just wanted a little more information for educational purposes. They are considering adding air conditioning to the entire home anyway.

    Also, not to doubt tech support, just looking at the unit - you can tell its undersized and it was the first thing I brought up to the Tech Support guy... but I just wanted to make sure that there is nothing in the air/ home that could be causing this or making it worse? I don't specialize in IAQ and anything I should look for or test for would be greatly appreciated.

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    Of all the complaints of dust in a house, I’ve NEVER seen one where dust came from HVAC equipment. Perhaps negative pressure on the house from an out of balance ducted system.
    Sure, poor combustion adjustment can cause a powdery residue on the furnace. But unless something is degrading in the equipment, in a ductless system what could be a source of dust?
    As for running constantly, the indoor fan runs all the time. Even when the temperature is satisfied. I would look for a source from the house that collects in the unit and drain.
    *********
    https://www.hvac20.com/ High efficiency equipment alone does not provide home comfort and efficiency. HVAC2.0 is a process for finding the real needs of the house and the occupants. Offer the customer a menu of work to address their problems and give them a probability of success.

    Find contractors with specialized training in combustion analysis, residential system performance, air flow, and duct optimization https://www.myhomecomfort.org/


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  3. #3
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    If anything undersized is good. Constant water flow down the drain.

    Is this on a interior or exterior wall? Is the wall penetration sealed.

    Installed by others Id pull and weigh the charge just to CMA.

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    Would you mind telling me the town? Or at least the county? That sounds exactly like a place I hassled with for some years. <g>

    PHM
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    Quote Originally Posted by justin_ View Post
    So this 70 year-old, 2-story home has a gas boiler for heat, and the home owners added a single head LG ductless mini-split (not installed by us - was installed by a relative not in the field, who was trying to do them a favor). The head was installed in their living room / den on the first floor - but the entire first floor is open. There are 4 big rooms on the first floor and they are all open to another with no separation or a half wall at most. They did not even get a unit big enough for the room that it is in, let alone for the entire first floor when you consider it is one giant room (plus there is no AC on the second floor). They basically just put it above their couch to blow down cold air on them when they sit there, not to cool the room.

    After every month of usage (this has been going on for years they told us), the head on the mini-split clogs. The unit is pitched properly and the drain is done correctly. As far as I am aware, they do not use any unusual chemicals, cleaners, meth lab, etc in the home. But it is a very old home if that matters. What's really strange is the stuff that clogs the drain is a weird powder that looks like graphite powder.

    Anyway, I talked to a tech support guy from LG and he said that it is due to the unit being severely undersized and from the unit having the run constantly. Does anyone know what this residue is or ever seen it before? Or why being undersized causes this powder? - just wanted a little more information for educational purposes. They are considering adding air conditioning to the entire home anyway.

    Also, not to doubt tech support, just looking at the unit - you can tell its undersized and it was the first thing I brought up to the Tech Support guy... but I just wanted to make sure that there is nothing in the air/ home that could be causing this or making it worse? I don't specialize in IAQ and anything I should look for or test for would be greatly appreciated.
    PHM
    --------
    The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of Thinking

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    Quote Originally Posted by kdean1 View Post
    Of all the complaints of dust in a house, I’ve NEVER seen one where dust came from HVAC equipment. Perhaps negative pressure on the house from an out of balance ducted system.
    Sure, poor combustion adjustment can cause a powdery residue on the furnace. But unless something is degrading in the equipment, in a ductless system what could be a source of dust?
    As for running constantly, the indoor fan runs all the time. Even when the temperature is satisfied. I would look for a source from the house that collects in the unit and drain.
    Thank you for the reply. It’s not dust, its some strange powder. It looks like graphite or carbon powder. And there is enough of it in the drain pan after a month to clog the drain - and if you clean it out, comes back in a month. Was told by homeowner that it has done it every year since it was installed 5+ years ago (we are new to this customer)

    But like you said, unless theres combustion (which isnt the case on ductless), how would the HVAC being generating this powder? That is the part that has me concerned.

    And sorry, I didn’t mean the fan run constantly. I meant the condenser running constantly as it rarely satisfies. The LG tech support guy said its from the unit being severely undersized and from the the system basically needing to run on higher speeds in nearly all the time - and they are basically trying to cool an entire floor with 1 unit (even if that wasn’t their intention)

    While I don’t doubt Tech Support, I just want to cover my ass. Tech Support is humans and humans make mistakes. Just making sure there isn’t be something else I should be testing for or looking for. Perhaps an Indoor Air Quality issue, or something going on in the home that can be causing this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poodle Head Mikey View Post
    Would you mind telling me the town? Or at least the county? That sounds exactly like a place I hassled with for some years. <g>

    PHM
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    Camden County, NJ

    Have you seen something like this before and were you able to figure out what was going on and/or how to resolve it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by justin_ View Post
    It’s not dust, its some strange powder. It looks like graphite or carbon powder. And there is enough of it in the drain pan after a month to clog the drain - and if you clean it out, comes back in a month. Was told by homeowner that it has done it every year since it was installed 5+ years ago (we are new to this customer)

    But like you said, unless theres combustion (which isnt the case on ductless), how would the HVAC being generating this powder? That is the part that has me concerned.

    And sorry, I didn’t mean the fan run constantly. I meant the condenser running constantly as it rarely satisfies. The LG tech support guy said its from the unit being severely undersized and from the the system basically needing to run on higher speeds in nearly all the time - and they are basically trying to cool an entire floor with 1 unit (even if that wasn’t their intention)

    While I don’t doubt Tech Support, I just want to cover my ass. Just making sure there isn’t be something else I should be testing for or looking for. Perhaps an Indoor Air Quality issue, or something going on in the home that can be causing this.
    well I'm going to call tech support FOS you should be able to run an ac without it turning to powder we ran many grossly undersized mini splits in Afghanistan (I was responsible for maintaining about 10,000 ) never saw something like that the dust we got was dirt lots and lots of dirt..from the air.. and I suspect you dust is some weird shit happening in the house I dunno maybe they have weekly graphene parties.. in all seriousness if you don't see the deterioration of anything in the unit( if it has off that much material for 5 years it should be half dissolved) there is another source of the powder
    RTB Mechanical
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  9. #8
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    and just a side not about tech support.. and let me start this with they are usually quite helpful BUT sometimes when presented with an non-standard problem they (as humans tend to do) pull an answer out of their ass
    RTB Mechanical
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    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    If anything undersized is good. Constant water flow down the drain.

    Is this on a interior or exterior wall? Is the wall penetration sealed.

    Installed by others Id pull and weigh the charge just to CMA.
    Thank you for the reply. The unit is on an exterior wall and it is now penetration sealed and has the correct charge - but this was not always the case... When we first went out, the unit was improperly hung / pitched, and the penetration hole was not properly sealed (just had some thumb gum that was mostly falling off).

    We rehung the unit properly with proper pitch, sealed the penetration hole, and pulled the charge / did a proper vacuum / weighed in charge (since it was installed by a non-hvac guy we thought that might have been done improperly)

    since doing that, it still clogs the drain just as fast as before - and with what looks like graphite or carbon powder. And there is enough of it in the drain pan after a month to clog the drain - and if you clean it all out, it comes back in a month or less.

    I thought the same thing as you with the drain, but the LG tech support guy said the unit being severely undersized causes the condenser to basically run constant on higher speeds nearly all the time - and they are basically trying to cool an entire floor with 1 unit. And according to him, that is causing the powder in the unit.

    Any ideas on anything else I should be testing for or looking for would be greatly appreciated. I was wondering if something inside the home or an air quality issue could be causing this or at least making the problem worse. Just like to cover my own ass

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkalasz View Post
    and just a side not about tech support.. and let me start this with they are usually quite helpful BUT sometimes when presented with an non-standard problem they (as humans tend to do) pull an answer out of their ass
    Oh I realize tech support can make mistakes. The first 2 guys I spoke with had no idea, the 3rd guy I spoke with said it was undersized. That is why I made the post here, because I wanted to cover my ass and see if there was others who have seen this or had any ideas. I think there is more to this than just undersized. Thank you for the reply

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkalasz View Post
    well I'm going to call tech support FOS you should be able to run an ac without it turning to powder we ran many grossly undersized mini splits in Afghanistan (I was responsible for maintaining about 10,000 ) never saw something like that the dust we got was dirt lots and lots of dirt..from the air.. and I suspect you dust is some weird shit happening in the house I dunno maybe they have weekly graphene parties.. in all seriousness if you don't see the deterioration of anything in the unit( if it has off that much material for 5 years it should be half dissolved) there is another source of the powder
    Thank you for your reply. There is no deterioration on the unit at all - also no discoloration or anything strange about the unit - other than the powder in the drain pan / drain, it looks like a typical ductless unit. Wish it wasn’t the only head in the house - this way I could tell if it was happening on other heads in the home.

    I also have a feeling there is something going on in the home - but the question is what is it and how do I figure it out?

    Or should I refer to an IAQ specialist?

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    I would take anything tech support says with a grain of salt. Especially LG tech support...
    Quote Originally Posted by justin_ View Post
    So this 70 year-old, 2-story home has a gas boiler for heat, and the home owners added a single head LG ductless mini-split (not installed by us - was installed by a relative not in the field, who was trying to do them a favor). The head was installed in their living room / den on the first floor - but the entire first floor is open. There are 4 big rooms on the first floor and they are all open to another with no separation or a half wall at most. They did not even get a unit big enough for the room that it is in, let alone for the entire first floor when you consider it is one giant room (plus there is no AC on the second floor). They basically just put it above their couch to blow down cold air on them when they sit there, not to cool the room.

    After every month of usage (this has been going on for years they told us), the head on the mini-split clogs. The unit is pitched properly and the drain is done correctly. As far as I am aware, they do not use any unusual chemicals, cleaners, meth lab, etc in the home. But it is a very old home if that matters. What's really strange is the stuff that clogs the drain is a weird powder that looks like graphite powder.

    Anyway, I talked to a tech support guy from LG and he said that it is due to the unit being severely undersized and from the unit having the run constantly. Does anyone know what this residue is or ever seen it before? Or why being undersized causes this powder? - just wanted a little more information for educational purposes. They are considering adding air conditioning to the entire home anyway.

    Also, not to doubt tech support, just looking at the unit - you can tell its undersized and it was the first thing I brought up to the Tech Support guy... but I just wanted to make sure that there is nothing in the air/ home that could be causing this or making it worse? I don't specialize in IAQ and anything I should look for or test for would be greatly appreciated.
    Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk

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    Maybe take a sample to a lab. They might be able to tell just by looking at the stuff under a microscope.


    Quote Originally Posted by justin_ View Post
    Thank you for your reply. There is no deterioration on the unit at all - also no discoloration or anything strange about the unit - other than the powder in the drain pan / drain, it looks like a typical ductless unit. Wish it wasn’t the only head in the house - this way I could tell if it was happening on other heads in the home.

    I also have a feeling there is something going on in the home - but the question is what is it and how do I figure it out?

    Or should I refer to an IAQ specialist?
    I do a triple evac with nitro to remove non condensables.

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    They were just following their flow chart....

    Is the customer question about the equipment listed? No...follow the arrow. Tell customer "Our extensive testing has indicated that (insert customer question) has never caused any adverse operation of our equipment, even under extreme conditions.
    Quote Originally Posted by dkalasz View Post
    and just a side not about tech support.. and let me start this with they are usually quite helpful BUT sometimes when presented with an non-standard problem they (as humans tend to do) pull an answer out of their ass
    Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by BBeerme View Post
    Maybe take a sample to a lab. They might be able to tell just by looking at the stuff under a microscope.
    Hmm thats a good idea. Thanks!

    Update: I found a Lab on google that you can mail in unknown substances to and they will identify it. Will be contacting them on Monday. Was a little difficult to find at first, as most labs are for detecting unknown drugs. I always thought you find out what an unknown drug is by taking it! lol

    Also, there is also a very large State University about 10 minutes away from me, will be contacting them as well.

    If I find out what the stuff is, I will definitely post back!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BALloyd View Post
    I would take anything tech support says with a grain of salt. Especially LG tech support...

    Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk
    Oh I realize LG tech support isn’t the best, which is why I posted the situation here. If I had 100% faith in them I wouldn’t be asking you guys! Fujitsu tech support is so far ahead of LG support that its not even comparable.

    We only have a handful of LG customers, yet I made a binder up with all their service manuals and repair guides, just so I don’t have to deal with their support unless absolutely necessary. Its not like I call support often, only really oddball stuff and when its required for Warranty.

    Once I called LG to get a warranty part authorization, and stupidly decided to be honest when they were asking a bunch of questions, and because it wasn’t “installed right” he refused to go further until it was corrected. It had nothing to do with the problem and the installing company went out of business! I could see if it was something that could be related to the problem.

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    DO THEY HAVE AN INONIZER OR COLD PLASMA GENERATOR OR ELECTRONIC AIR CLEANER OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT PLUGGED IN SOMWHERE IN THE HOME? DOES THE POWDER HAVE SHINY FLAKES IN IT? I FEEL I HAVE DEALT WITH THIS BEFORE MYSELF.. JUST WOKE UP FROM A NAP TRYING TO REMEMBER WHERE AND WHEN..
    Say "I just need a little Freon" one more time!

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    Quote Originally Posted by HVACmedic911 View Post
    DO THEY HAVE AN INONIZER OR COLD PLASMA GENERATOR OR ELECTRONIC AIR CLEANER OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT PLUGGED IN SOMWHERE IN THE HOME? DOES THE POWDER HAVE SHINY FLAKES IN IT? I FEEL I HAVE DEALT WITH THIS BEFORE MYSELF.. JUST WOKE UP FROM A NAP TRYING TO REMEMBER WHERE AND WHEN..
    MAYBE THE BOTTOM OF NASTY CONDO PUMPS IS WHERE I HAVE SEEN IT??
    Say "I just need a little Freon" one more time!

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    Quote Originally Posted by HVACmedic911 View Post
    MAYBE THE BOTTOM OF NASTY CONDO PUMPS IS WHERE I HAVE SEEN IT??
    Do you always shout in your posts?
    *********
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    Find contractors with specialized training in combustion analysis, residential system performance, air flow, and duct optimization https://www.myhomecomfort.org/


    Site member map HERE!

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    Quote Originally Posted by HVACmedic911 View Post
    DO THEY HAVE AN INONIZER OR COLD PLASMA GENERATOR OR ELECTRONIC AIR CLEANER OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT PLUGGED IN SOMWHERE IN THE HOME? DOES THE POWDER HAVE SHINY FLAKES IN IT? I FEEL I HAVE DEALT WITH THIS BEFORE MYSELF.. JUST WOKE UP FROM A NAP TRYING TO REMEMBER WHERE AND WHEN..
    no they don’t have anything like that in the home (they have a boiler for heat) BUT just to make sure, I will double check to make sure they don’t have any room devices plugged in...

    BUT YES!!! the powder does have shiny flakes in it!!!!

    there is no condensate pump for this ductless unit

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