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Thread: Need Advice Please Water Softener/Condenstate Drain Backup Issue

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member F1nALMSfan's Avatar
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    Default Need Advice Please Water Softener/Condenstate Drain Backup Issue

    Hello everyone,
    I have an issue with my collection pipe from my water softener and furnace condensate lines not draining, and backing up. Now a little bit of background, my moved into the house in July, and have not had any issues with this since. Outside of that, I can not confirm this hasn't happened in the past with the prior owners, although there is no evidence that it did.

    So the other night, I came downstairs to find my carpet completely soaked. I opened the closet where the sump, softener and drain are, to find more water in there, and the vertical collection pipe for the softener and condensate lines full to the top with water. After trying various things, I was able to get the water to finally drain by unscrewing the clean-out piece on the top. When I did this, a loud whoosh of air was heard and just like that the water had drained.

    My questions are as follows. First, what could be causing this problem all of a sudden? My softener recycles every two days, and this has not occurred before. Secondly, what options are there to remedy this? As long as I have air exchange at the clean out cap, the water drains fine. Is there any risk with allowing air to exchange at this point?

    Thanks so much for taking a look at this, I am very new to the DIY house fixes, as this is my first place.

    Best regards,

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  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The "whoose" of airr means the pipe was full of water, so the trap was "air bound" because of the AAV. Sometimes the pipe can be full because of physical problems, but will still drain if it had a conventional vent, but NOT with an AAV. If you unscrew the plug you may discover that it is full of water, but even if not, a problem further downstream will still cause your symptoms. It is very possible that the sump pump could overflow if not for the check valve, but since it is a pressure device it could drain.
    Last edited by hj; 02-01-2014 at 01:03 PM.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  3. #3
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    I would be more concerned about the connection of the sump pump to the sewer, which is illegal in most areas. Also, if the sewer line clogs the sump is going to blow all of it's contents out the condensate standpipe.

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    DIY Junior Member F1nALMSfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    I would be more concerned about the connection of the sump pump to the sewer, which is illegal in most areas. Also, if the sewer line clogs the sump is going to blow all of it's contents out the condensate standpipe.
    Thanks for the quick replies. What about this is illegal? The housing inspector made no mention of this prior to the purchase of our home. I am not sure if this makes a difference, but there is no sewage(as I understand the definition of this) going to this drain. That is in another area of the house. This is just the sump pump and water softener. Please excuse my ignorance on the subject if it comes off like I don't know what I am talking about, because I don't

    What would be an appropriate fix? I had a plumber look at this after it happened, he was stumped and his only suggestion at the time was to unplug the water softener, which I did. I just don't understand where the build up of pressure could be coming from.

    Thanks,

    Kevin

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member Reach4's Avatar
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    So that big pipe goes to a city sewer rather than a septic tank, I would have thought that would have to be vented.

    Is that "when this is unscrewed" a plug or an AAV. If AAV, I would have thought it was defective. If that can happen in the presence of water, how about running a pipe 2 ft higher and putting an AAV atop that?

    I am not a pro.

  6. #6

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    I might as well stick my 2 cents in! It appears that the larger drain pipe going through the wall may be part of the storm drain system since I see no other drain pipes entering that line except for the sump pump discharge and the condensate drain. I think what I see is a potential air lock in the system because the check valve on the horizontal pipe from the condensate traps the air rising from the storm drain so the condensate drain does not have enough "head" to push it open. I think I would install a pipe on the opening where you have the plug that you "unscrewed" so that it is somewhat above the condensate drain and put a "quick-vent" on it. That is a one way vent used in certain applications where running a vent out the roof is cost-prohibitive and the "quick-vent" can be hidden up under the sink cabinet. Here it can be exposed and it only allows air in and doesn't allow water to come out. I'm not a "Pro" but I'm pretty handy.

  7. #7
    Plumber Sean Beck's Avatar
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    Personally, I would cut out and remove the drain coming from the sump. Re-route the sump drain so that it ejects onto your lawn. Keep the connection there for the trap which serves the condensing lines. Remove the one check valve on the trap, and install an AAV.

  8. #8
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    Good points are being made-- where that pipe going through the wall is going would be my first concern.
    Furnace condensate is indirect waste, and should be going to the sewer. Sump pump is clear groundwater, and should not be going to the sewer.

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