condensate can't drain while AC blower is running

dave120July 8, 2008

I have a Goodman ARUF3743 Air Handler in my attic that I helped an HVAC contractor install last fall.

The problem I am having is that since it is mounted horizontally the drain holes are next to the return and the condensate does not drain out until the blower stops running. IÂve shut the AC down once and saw the condensate shooting out of the end of the tubing outside. With the access panel removed and the AC on I was able to see that the condensation accumulates but canÂt drain away because the air coming through the return blows the water away from the drain. What can I do to allow the water to drain away while the blower is still running? Is there a kit that can be purchased to prevent this or is the evaporator coil installed incorrectly?

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fluffybunnysui

Im assuming you have a 3/4" pvc drain line coming off the unit.... is there a "p" trap on the drain? If not, try installing one. On the York units i install, we have to install a "P" trap on the drain of any unit that the air enters the coil first, then the blower...like most modern air handlers are configured. There is a bit of negative air pressure in that area and the water has a bad habit of wadding up in the pan.
Try the "P" trap and while your at it, install a few inches of clear plastic hose on the drain line, fastened with 2 hose claps. This will let you actually see the water draining without removing the door.

Hope this helps

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 4:58PM
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ryanhughes

If you have any vent (open pipe in the shape of a T) on the drain line before the p-trap it needs to be capped; if it's after the p-trap then that's fine. What you're describing is a sign of improper drainage due to a deficient drainage system. Describe your drainage system.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 6:54PM
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garyg

Good advice.

P-trap, p-trap, p-trap.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 8:57PM
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zl700

This is a common problem on air handlers and rooftop units where the coils are upstream of the blower.

Proper trapping is required!!!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 8:59PM
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dave120

The drain for the air handler has two ¾" PVC drain holes of which my HVAC contractor had hooked up reducing fittings from the ¾" down to 1/2". Then he hooked up clear plastic tubing to both drains and combined them into one PVC pipe further downstream. It would have been nice to have them separated so I could see if the main or the backup was flowing. How does having a P-trap make the water flow against the air and into the drain tubing? Does it have something to do with causing a suction or vacuum? Would the P-trap be required only on the main drain where as the overflow drain can be straight out? Does the P-trap need to be cleared out before our MN cold winters come along? I appreciate all of your advice.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 8:55AM
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zl700

Reducing threads in the coil pan drain holes only raises the water level in the higher before draining which makes it worse.

If you coil were to be downstream of the blower. Such as an A-coil onto of an up flow furnace you wouldn't be having this problem.

The P-trap creates a barrier that breaks the suction and as condensate is created it fills the p-trap displacing existing water at a lower level, thus it goes down the drain.

While it is good to have a proper installed overflow drain to backup the main drain, it must also be trapped properly, or it will suck in air and impurities from wherever it is draining to. Many times I have seen these drain into a catch pan or be changed to vinyl tube and looped low to create a trap.

Worried about freezing, I'm guessing that you may have your AC unit in an attic/unheated space?

Rarely does a P-trap freeze under those conditions and tend to have dried out before being exposed to freezing conditions. However, if your duct static pressure is not too high and properly installed, a "running trap" could be used with better results.

Here is a link that might be useful: Types of traps

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 10:23AM
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dave120

Thanks for the info everyone, it took me a day or two to think it over but I now understand what you were explaining. Would it work to use 90 deg elbows and a few pieces of straight pipe to make my P-trap. It shouldn't matter if the bottom part of the P-trap is straight because of joining two elbows together. Or does it matter? I thought that since I had the parts lying around I could make good use of them. If that doesn't sound like it will work where would be the best place in Minneapolis, MN to get them locally because Home Depot and other stores like it do not carry P-traps in 3/4 inch. Thanks again for all your advice, I appraciate it greatly!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 2:30PM
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ryanhughes

I've seen traps made as you describe. If you do this, I would monitor it to ensure proper drainage of course. Make sure the vent, if you choose to have one, comes after the trap and not before.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 2:37PM
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zl700

You can make your own, they just tend to catch material because the bend is not as smooth.

Keep an eye on it and perhaps blow it out once in awhile and you'll be fine.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 5:09PM
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brickeyee

"Keep an eye on it and perhaps blow it out once in awhile and you'll be fine."

Sucking the line out with a shop vac from the open end works very well.
Use a wet rag to make a tight seal between the shop vac hose and the drain line.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 12:40PM
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dave120

Thanks for the info. If the air handler is a sealed system and the air returns are filtered, what kind of material would collect in the condensate?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 2:04PM
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zl700

Airborne particles that pass through or bypass the filter that drain off wet coil and unwanted growth cultures in pan and trap.

(With even a HEPA filter system if it is 100% filtration, it must be blocked)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 3:00PM
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