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Thread: Clogged Drain Line Caused Drip outside drip pan

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member oreyes's Avatar
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    Default Clogged Drain Line Caused Drip outside drip pan

    Hello all,

    Back in July my AC unit leaked into the ceiling of the 2nd fl. The service people cleared the clog from the end of the pipe by blowing nitronen I believe. No probem since then. I'm puzzled however due to the fact that the drip pan under the unit was not wet at all and the water leaked completely outside of it. The tech was not able to Id the root cause.

    I'm facing $2500 in damage - covered by insurance - but am concerned this may happen again. Also ...I have a a 10 yr svc contract with the Co. that instaleld the unit 2 years ago. Any general opinions as to whether they are liable for at least the deductible I'll have to shell out? Unit is Lennox Signature. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    The outside drip pan is for any leaks that are not supposed to be there.

    The condensate drain should probably not be into the drip. You have a primary drain....apparently clogged. Thus the secondary condensate drain picked up that load. Often the secondary drains to someplace where it will annoy you, so you can't ignore it. Like the living room ceiling.

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member Mikebarone's Avatar
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    Default Just a thought...

    Quote Originally Posted by oreyes View Post
    Hello all,

    Back in July my AC unit leaked into the ceiling of the 2nd fl. The service people cleared the clog from the end of the pipe by blowing nitronen I believe. No probem since then. I'm puzzled however due to the fact that the drip pan under the unit was not wet at all and the water leaked completely outside of it. The tech was not able to Id the root cause.

    I'm facing $2500 in damage - covered by insurance - but am concerned this may happen again. Also ...I have a a 10 yr svc contract with the Co. that instaleld the unit 2 years ago. Any general opinions as to whether they are liable for at least the deductible I'll have to shell out? Unit is Lennox Signature. Thanks.
    This you may already know: You should have, (if I’m picturing it correctly) two condensation pipes on the outside of your house. One should be low; around 12” above ground level and the other should be higher. The lower one should be the one that drips all the time…everything is ok. When the top one starts to drip, that means that the normal operation drain is plugged, and the pan is now taking on water.
    When you’re A/C guy came out, did he have to blow out both drains? Being that you had drywall damage that would mean that both condensation lines were plugged. If this is a big mystery, of how the pan under the unit was not wet, and the water got to your drywall, the only thing I can think of doing is imitating the seen of the crime.
    Go up in your attic, (making sure that you thermostat is set in the, “off position” before going up there) and remove the side panel to the air handler. Take a small rag, and plug up the drain hole, in the air handler unit. Pour water into the bottom of air handler tray, until it overflows, and see what happens. The water should drip over into the emergency pan, and out the drain line. Have someone stand outside, to see if water is dripping out of the pipe, (the higher one). See if there is sludge build-up in the bottom of the air handler. If there is, shop vac up as much as you can, and then take a small brush and hot soapy water, and flush out as much of it as you can. When you are done cleaning it out, make sure that clear water is coming out of the lower pipe, on the outside of your house.
    As far as them being responsible for all/ part of the damage, (in my opinion and depending on what you find out on the test) it may fall back on the original installers of the unit. If you just have a service contract with you’re A/C company, and not a maintenance program, I would say, (again in my opinion) they would not be responsible for the damage that accrued.
    As far as the pan not being wet; if it was hot up in your attic, the pan would have probably dried up, by the time someone got up there to check it out.

    Good luck on that one,

    Mike
    Last edited by Mikebarone; 09-17-2008 at 05:40 AM.

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    DIY Junior Member oreyes's Avatar
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    Thanks for your help Mike. Here's some more info. There is only one pipe outside the house. It is the one connected to a P trap with a micro switch and it goes into the housing of the unit. There is also a 3/4 inch pipe connected to the drip pan about 18 inches down from the p trap but it is only about 5 incles long and there is another microswitch in front of it inside the pan. This sucker discharges onto the plywood they laid down in front of the unit for servicing the unit. There is a strange connector (plug?) at the end of this pipe I do not know if it is or is not capable of dripping to the plywood and the insulation/ ceiling below. If is is capable of dripping this could well be the issue. I took pictures. I'll try to post them right now. It is not working I'll try again. The files are 2 meg a piece Have to figure out how to make smaller.... I'll keep trying. The Co that installed it is the same that has the 10 yr maint. contract
    Last edited by oreyes; 09-22-2008 at 05:41 PM. Reason: Add info correct typos.

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    DIY Junior Member oreyes's Avatar
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    Default Pics!

    Hope this works... If anyone is wondering - This was done with IRFANVIEW - it was quick and easy. Thanks to all that have helped with this. It is very humbling to see how well these communities work, I hope I can be of help to some.
    Attached Images Attached Images   
    Last edited by oreyes; 09-22-2008 at 05:43 PM.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member oreyes's Avatar
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    The I guess it's possible that the drip pan cracked during install after the unit was set on it and the installers did not replace it? The secondary pan seems kind of flimsy to me. If the issue is not discernible from the pictures I'll proceed to the water test. On the second picture is that hole next to the P trap connection to the air handler normal? Looks like something went wrong there.
    Last edited by oreyes; 09-23-2008 at 05:06 PM. Reason: Additional info

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    DIY Senior Member Mikebarone's Avatar
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    Default What the heck?????

    I personally have never seen that set up with the micro switches and all. So I really can’t tell you if that set up is correct or not. I’m a little confused why the drain pipe to the bottom pan is plugged and not plumbed to outside of the house. I also don’t under stand what the micro switches are for. Did you get a chance to trace the wires down and see where the go? It would make a some sense if the micro switch on the bottom pan detected moisture, that it would shut down the unit, and an alarm in your house would sound notifying you that there is a problem.
    If you do the water test, make sure, that when you find the leak, you are able to get the rest of the water out of there, like with a shop vac or something. Before you do the water test, you might contact the installers and ask them how that system works, (with the micro switches, and the drain line to the bottom pan plugged). It might save you some time up in the attic, if you know how the system works, (if all the components are work properly).
    I also wonder why they didn’t put in a simple drain system, (with two pipes going outside of the house). Was there a reason for installing the micro switches, (that may malfunction) because they couldn’t install a simple drain system?
    I hope someone on this forum will know what the switches do, and why the bottom pan pipe is capped off.
    If it comes down to where the installers have to come out to see what is going on, I would stick to them like glue, to see what they do. If what they do, as far as a repair, is related to the drywall damage that you have occurred, I sure would make an issue about it.

    Mike
    Last edited by Mikebarone; 09-25-2008 at 11:40 AM. Reason: more thoughts

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