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marti
Color outside the lines
Premium,MVM
join:2001-12-14
Houston, TX
kudos:5

Result of AC drip pan overflow -- cracked ceiling




"Inside the house" part of AC/Heating system is in the attic above the kitchen. A little drip came through the kitchen ceiling late last week, I put a bucket under the drip. When I saw the drip in the ceiling, I knew what was going on and called the AC company and then turned off the unit; they showed up later that day to unclog the drain.

The entire piece of sheet rock is bowed and will have to be replaced. It will be fixed as soon as "the repair guy" can do the job.

I do have my AC/heating company come out once a year to check everything. I don't know what other preventive maintenance I should do for the AC/heating system. I also make sure I change the AC return air filter in the house on a regular schedule; if there is a lot of construction or such going on in my area, the filter gets changed often. When something is going on inside the house, from major to even just painting walls, the filter is checked and replaced.
--
Team Discovery


Chinabound
Premium
join:2002-12-21
Antioch, IL
kudos:3

Just yesterday, Lurch and I were talking about this subject. I had to clear out the drip pan drain in mine due to a leak that began two days ago.
Mine is in the utility portion of the basement, so no damage resulted. I'm sorry for your trouble - but that should be easy to repair.


guppy_fish
Premium
join:2003-12-09
Lakeland, FL
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to marti

In high use areas, like Florida and east Texas, its wise to use a wet/dry shop vac every other month on the drain, take 10 minutes and keeps the drain clear.

But, your issue is your float switch in the safety pan isn't working, its suppose to shutdown the unit if the water gets to deep in the overflow pan. the AC folks should check and make sure it's installed and functional or what happen will happen again.



Draiman
Let me see those devil horns in the sky

join:2012-06-01
Kill Devil Hills, NC
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to marti

I lived in Florida for over 25 years and never heard anyone advocate cleaning the drain more then once or twice a year. That includes my step-dad who owns an A/C company and has been installing them all over the state for decades. The most common thing I hear is pour warm bleach down the drain once or twice a year.



builderbob

@cox.net
reply to marti

annual PM should include a couple of "blue" tablets in the condensate line at the attic coil.

A/C-Safe brand, 6 tablets for $2.97, sku 380163 @ HD.



Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
reply to Draiman

said by Draiman:

I lived in Florida for over 25 years and never heard anyone advocate cleaning the drain more then once or twice a year. That includes my step-dad who owns an A/C company and has been installing them all over the state for decades. The most common thing I hear is pour warm bleach down the drain once or twice a year.

+1 That's what my AC service company does twice/year. The use enough to clean the interior and drip pan. Looks like new when they finish.

My new air handling unit should be even easier to keep clean as it's made like a Refrigerator interior.


Draiman
Let me see those devil horns in the sky

join:2012-06-01
Kill Devil Hills, NC
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to builderbob

said by builderbob :

annual PM should include a couple of "blue" tablets in the condensate line at the attic coil.

A/C-Safe brand, 6 tablets for $2.97, sku 380163 @ HD.

Close but the sku is 380162.
»www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R···H7mFrPZg

Amazon
»www.amazon.com/Pan-Tablets-count···+Tablets

laserfan

join:2005-01-14
Texas
reply to guppy_fish

said by guppy_fish:

But, your issue is your float switch in the safety pan isn't working, its suppose to shutdown the unit if the water gets to deep in the overflow pan. the AC folks should check and make sure it's installed and functional or what happen will happen again.

OP, pay attention to this. Either you have no cutout switch or it's not working.

You can bet your booties that if your A/C isn't running (because the overflow pan is full and this cutout switch has worked) you are going to notice it and take action before your ceiling comes down!

laserfan

join:2005-01-14
Texas
reply to builderbob

said by builderbob :

annual PM should include a couple of "blue" tablets in the condensate line at the attic coil.

A/C-Safe brand, 6 tablets for $2.97, sku 380163 @ HD.

Actually, if you stuff them into the line then maybe they will plug the line?

It seems they should be tossed-in to the pan under the A-coil, but IIRC there's no easy/trivial way to get at that pan on my fan coil units. Maybe I should cut an access panel so it's easy to toss one-in there once a season...?

jgriz

join:2008-12-10
Saint Charles, IL
reply to marti

When I lived in South Texas, our upstairs AC unit had an auxiliary pan that the air handler sat in. The auxiliary pan was to catch any overflow due to a clogged main drain and route it to a drain tube that ran out the side of the house. I rember the builder pointing out the emergency drain line and telling me that if I ever saw water running out of that pipe to check the AC drain. During the 7 years that we lived there I never saw that happen but I thought it was definitely a good backup plan.



marti
Color outside the lines
Premium,MVM
join:2001-12-14
Houston, TX
kudos:5
reply to marti

No float device is installed in drip pan -- I don't think they are commonly used in this area. AC/heater company does put those tablets in the drain each year when they come out to check the systems.

I do have the secondary drain line outside, as yes, when it is dripping it means the main line is clogged. However, unless that drain line is checked often, I will never know it is leaking.
--
Team Discovery


garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI

The secondary pan drain is supposed to drain outside the house, or somewhere, where it is obvious that water is flowing from it. That's to let you know that the main drain is clogged.


jgriz

join:2008-12-10
Saint Charles, IL
reply to marti

If the secondary drip line is dripping outside of the house, nothing should leak through your ceiling because the water is being routed outside of the house.


bkjohnson
Premium
join:2002-05-22
Birmingham, AL
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to marti

My house has a similar setup. There is a drip pan under the AC unit that has a gravity drain as does the a/c unit. I think that the idea is that if the a/c unit drain becomes clogged, the drip pan drain will route any overflow outside. Of course the drip pan drain can also become clogged. I try to watch both drains where they exit the house, and also clear them occasionally with a wet dry vac. What has been very helpful to me though, is having an inexpensive battery powered water alarm in the drip pan. It has alerted me to water in the pan.


laserfan

join:2005-01-14
Texas

said by bkjohnson:

What has been very helpful to me though, is having an inexpensive battery powered water alarm in the drip pan. It has alerted me to water in the pan.

Good idea. At least, even if one does have a properly functioning float switch, having an alarm in the overflow pan might keep one from having to lug the shop-vac up there i.e. before the pan gets too full.

I have one in a Water Heater pan that's in an inside/upstairs closet, warning me about leaks. I think I bought an extra which I'm gonna put in the pan for the upstairs fancoil unit.


Mentat
Premium
join:2001-02-25
Sugar Land, TX
reply to marti

Strange. The drain pipe that runs outside of my house drips nonstop all summer, should I be worried?

I had the AC serviced last year, new ducting and coils cleaned, etc. and there was never any mention of a clogged main drain.
--
¯\_()_/¯ () mmoQQ.com () °°


boaterbob
Premium
join:2005-08-01
Moncks Corner, SC
reply to Jack_in_VA

I also had a secondary/emergency drip pan issue. Initially I was getting a full pan (up to the external drain height) - it would then drain to the outside. Presently the pan only gets wet when condensation drips from the bottom of the air handler - the end where the fan is located. The whole bottom of the cabinet has water droplets and they drip into the drain pan in the day when the humidity in the attic is around 35% but the air temp reaches 120+ degrees. The drain pan has so much rust in the area under the fan section of the air handler cabinet that it has rusted enough that I felt I might end up with a pin hole developing and doing the same thing to the ceiling (below the attic space) that happened to you. Today I wired brushed that section of the drain pan and painted on RustOleum 'Rust kill' - turns the rust to black oxide. Tomorrow I will spray RustOleum 'rubber coating' to waterproof that section of the pan. Come winter when it cools down I will replace the drain pan - approx 5 1/2' x 2 1/2' in size made of sheet steel. I'm debating between a new sheet metal pan or a fiberglass pan. A knowledgeable A/C tech tells me there have been problems with the fiberglass pans (but at least they don't rust).


jgriz

join:2008-12-10
Saint Charles, IL
reply to Mentat

mentat - that is probably your primary drain that is dripping outside. What we have been talking about is a backup drain that is connected to a pan that is under the air handling unit that is for catching any overflow due to a clogged primary drain.



sivran
Seamonkey's back
Premium
join:2003-09-15
Irving, TX
kudos:1
reply to marti

Come to think of it.. I don't think I've ever done any of this stuff. Pretty sure I know which pipe is the drain line, but no idea where it actually goes to discharge.
--
Think Outside the Fox.


laserfan

join:2005-01-14
Texas

said by sivran:

Come to think of it.. I don't think I've ever done any of this stuff. Pretty sure I know which pipe is the drain line, but no idea where it actually goes to discharge.

Keep your fingers crossed that you have no problems this summer, but make a note on your calendar, when it's cooled-off a little, to find your drains and scope them out. The primary drain should have a p-trap in it and a tee with a removeable cap, so you can pour-in some bleach or other algae-fighter.

My primary drain goes to a half-bath below (behind the sink) and of course the secondary is outside somewhere over a window so you can see it drip if it overflows.

robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to marti

One thing to remember if this ever happens again. Just as important as putting the bucket under it is to punch a hole through it so it will drain. Use a screwdriver or anything like that to create a small hole. The water will drain off the top of the Sheetrock faster and will not do as much damage.



ndt

join:2008-08-22
Picayune, MS
reply to marti

I had a similar problem with a hot water heater in the attic.I had noticed water draining outside but didn't think much about it because I thought it was A/C condensation.(stupid).

When I realized that the A/C hadn't been on for a couple of weeks,since the weather cooled off,I got my ladder and got into the attic.The relief valve on the water heater had gone bad and was leaking into the drip pan ,then going outside.

Son-in-Law replaced valve and cleaned up the rest of the water in the pan.I got two of those battery powered water alarms at home depot and put one in the water heater pan and A/C pan.

I didn't know about auxillary drains at the time,but I know where both are now.



cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT
reply to marti

said by marti:

No float device is installed in drip pan -- I don't think they are commonly used in this area. AC/heater company does put those tablets in the drain each year when they come out to check the systems.

Not installing a switch is a retarded move for whomever installed the system. But then all those $10 saved....

disy

join:2003-01-02
Norwalk, CT
reply to marti

Use a gallo gun on the condensation line a couple times a year and it comes in handy when the line does actually clog - will save you a service trip. Also have an automatic shut off put on the unit or you can just put a water sensor in the drip pan.



Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4
reply to marti

said by marti:

No float device is installed in drip pan -- I don't think they are commonly used in this area. AC/heater company does put those tablets in the drain each year when they come out to check the systems.

It has little to do with region. Any time condensate will be above a critical area, it should be installed. Even if they don't usually install them where you live, having one would have saved you a lot of hassle and money, eh?

bkjohnson
Premium
join:2002-05-22
Birmingham, AL
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to Mentat

Thanks! Actually, I use the shop vac where the drains exit the house by making a seal with my hands. I tried it once on an "emergency" basis, and it worked so well that I continue to do it. The vac pulls all sorts of stuff through the line until just clear water appears. I might add that having a water alarm under my water heater, which, for reasons unknown, is in the attic, alerted me to a leak which I was able to deal with before it became a serious problem..


laserfan

join:2005-01-14
Texas
reply to disy

said by disy:

Use a gallo gun

I had to look this up!

I have an air compressor and a portable air tank but haven't used it with my drain lines because...the installer put my Tee in-line AFTER the P-trap (where a clog would normally reside) and applying compressed air would then (wouldn't it) blow the mold/mildew/algae/crapola back-in to the A-coil housing.

Do y'all's drain lines always have the access port (Tee, for pouring in liquid I presume) BEFORE the p-trap?


mityfowl
Premium
join:2000-11-06
Dallas, TX
reply to marti

Years ago(when women were nice, I know a long long time ago and it was only 1 day) when freon was cheap a blasted evey spring to clean out algae



Lurch77
Premium
join:2001-11-22
Oconto, WI
kudos:4

R11 used to be a great tool cleaner. But that was before it created global warming with every other thing in the world.


disy

join:2003-01-02
Norwalk, CT
reply to laserfan

I honestly do not know tee trap from p trap - sorry - I use the gallo gun because it has the perfect size nozzle to fit the drain pipe in the AC unit and I blow it out versus, blowing it in - not sure if this makes sense or not - also the gun is just a quick blast of air versus a compressor, which i think could be too much pressure on the piping