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Condensate Drain Pipe Maintenance

I am a homeowner seeking a professional opinion:

In early July I had a technician service my heat pump system - my primary objective was proactive cleaning of the air handler's drain pipe. The tech blew some forced air through the pipe and spent thirty minutes going thru a spring start-up checklist.

Thirty days later, my system shut down; the cause: clogged drain pipe. Another technician, another hour's labor. The HVAC company has not offered any reduction to me in recognition of their recent, planned service call. They insist that clogs happen, sometimes frequently.

Is this true? I am grateful for any insight. I wasn't looking for a freebie from the company, but is there no implied warranty on work like clearing a drain pipe? If not, proactive clearing of the pipe would seem a waste.

Details: There is no real seasonal start-up for this system: year round heating and cooling provided by an all-electric Carrier Comfort Puron Heat Pump system installed five years ago. An Apriliare 5000 HEPA filter feeds the system, which has been problem free, except for a clogged drain pipe Summer 2007, and again this year. I live in the Northeast...we did have a super humid hot season this year.

Thanks in advance; this website and your services very appreciated.


  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,045
    You might

    try changing the piping from hard 90 deg elbows to either long radius or an actual P-trap type drain. Lot of resistance to "drain" type flow there. Nothing wrong with it, but if your system exhibits issues, then this is worth a look. As well, a quick disconnect so you can buy your own Gallo Gun and blow it out yourself. Do you have a lot of gunk on the coil/drain pan?
  • AllElectric
    AllElectric Member Posts: 9
    No discernable accumulation....

    Thanks Jack! I've been considering some mods to the trap design for precisely the reasons you explain. I'd like to think that eliminating the 90 degree turns can eliminate the problem (completely?). Interestingly, the company that designed and installed this is also the one currently servicing it.

    To your question - no, there was no visible gunk or accumulation on the coils or drain pan, as inspected the day the tech visited to fix this latest clog. Which brings me back to my dilemma:  Is it reasonable to expect that such clogs might happen with such frequency given humidity conditions; and is it unreasonable to expect some reduction on the cost of the emergency service call if within a month of a scheduled call for maintenance? Given the design of the system I am still stymied as to the source of the clogging material.

    I look forward to any further insights. Thanks again!
  • tim smith
    tim smith Member Posts: 2,380
    RE condensate line

    We use a trap called EZ trap. It is clear and and also has plugs at both points at right angles to directions so you can clean pipe. You can also see dirt accumulation and clean as needed. Pretty cool. Good luck.
  • Techman
    Techman Member Posts: 2,144

    We install traps that have  a clean-out plug so we can CLEAN-OUT the trap EVERY year.As a BOSS that call would  be NO CHARGE ,and I would be checking for "who dun it" and re-educating them in proper maintenance procedurers.A normal spring routine is 1 1/2 -3 hrs of labor per system.
  • Did the condensate pump shut off your system?

    If that picture is the actual system you have, I would say the condensate pump is wired to the condensor(outside unit) and that is what shut off your system. If that is the case than the pump needs cleaned and not the trap. If the trap is that dirty that it is clogged, than the coil needs to be checked. You don't just have cloggs, you may need to have cleaning tabs put in the pan to reduce the bacterial junk or use a UV lite. Anyone that has serviced icemachines knows about the "Gorilla snot" in those drains! So trap or pump the actual problem?

    Don in MO
  • AllElectric
    AllElectric Member Posts: 9

    Thanks to all who replied with guidance. I have a good sense now of how to handle my situation.

    Techman - If Westchester NY is within your service area, I'll want to discuss a maintenance plan with you!

    Don - the condensate pump clear and working fine...trap definitely the culprit.

    Best to all.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,399
    A couple of more things you might check

    1.Look for mold inside the pipe when you re-pipe it, especially the white, oat meal looking kind. If that's the case, you'll need tablets and maybe a UV lite as Don said.

    2.If the pipe extends below the water line in the pump, then it needs to be shortened. It also appears that the trap is too deep in the pic. The EZ trap is really the best solution.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Bergy
    Bergy Member Posts: 11
    Condensate clean-up

    This is the product we use for condensate traps...

This discussion has been closed.