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Is condensate toxic?

Posted by vickyw (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 18, 08 at 16:12

We have a central air conditioner with the coil mounted in line with our gas furnace on the second floor of our home. There was a condensate pump with a clear plastic tube that ran through the attic, and outside.

The tubing collapsed (probably due to heat in the attic), and the pump failed. When we had a repairman out to install a new pump, he said that rather than run flexible plastic tubing all the way through the attic, he could run pvc pipe to a nearby bathroom drain pipe.

This seemed like a great solution, and we did it. Later, a friend told us that he thinks the condensation from the air conditioner (and apparently, his furnace also produces liquid condensation in winter) is highly acidic, and would damage our septic system (by killing the bacteria that make the septic work).

I'm not sure why "condensation" from an air conditioner, or a furnace would be toxic. It is odd that the system was not routed into the nearby bathroom drain initially though--so I'm wondering if there is something to the idea that the condensation shouldn't go into the septic system.

Any thoughts? Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is condensate toxic?

Condensate is no more toxic than the water on the side of your iced tea.


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RE: Is condensate toxic?

AC condensate is not a problem, although I wouldnt drink it as it is stale and stagnant water.

Condensing heating appliances produce an acidic condensate and depending on the combustion air and the potential contaminants drawn in can be toxic.


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RE: Is condensate toxic?

Yes any toxicity would be in heating if you have a 90+ however I have never heard any harm coming from it and I highly doubt it is going to kill all the bacteria in your septic system.
The reason your original setup was not run in to your bathroom is because they are probably not talking about a drain they are probably talking about a vent pipe and while depending on your local codes it may or may not be ok to penetrate a vent pipe with a condensate outlet because it has a check valve on it you can't put a regular drain line in a vent because when the trap goes dry in winter you will pull in sewer gas when the fan is running.

Here is a link that might be useful: Air Conditioning and Heating Repair Made Easy


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RE: Is condensate toxic?

While not toxic, condensate tend to be aggressive for corrosion issues.

It is cold distilled water, with water dust gets to the coil added.

Since it has nothing dissolved any more, it easily dissolves anything soluble it touches.
It can even dissolve concrete, slowly but surely.
Plastic drain lines are useful for handling it.

Unless you live in a very humid area there shold not be enough volume to bother a septic system.

You need to be sure the drain line has an air gap before entering the plumbing system.
Without an air gap it is possible to pull sewer gas back into the air handler.


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