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Old 05-31-2019, 09:00 AM   #1
SabreKiller
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Default HVAC drain problems....

The drain pan under my HVAC unit is about 75% full and is draining out the drain tube just fine. The problem is it should be draining out the other drain tube from the unit straight outside. It's not draining. I've put hot soapy water down it, vinegar, the repair guy even blew it out with compressed air. Is there something else I can do like run a long snake down the line to clean it out? The line has a P trap in it close to the unit so I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it.

It's a long drain line too. It's probably at least 30 feet.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:10 AM   #2
Johnny Dangerr
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I would run beach and if that did not get it do light compressed air from both directions....
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:11 AM   #3
MacDaddy67
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youre main drain is plugged, secondary goes outside as a tell tale that you have issues...

I put bleach down mine 2x a year....

as a long term solution they make chlorine tabs you can drop in there also...

strong bleach or drano
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:24 AM   #4
Hockley
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It should not be draining outside, that is for emergency. Sounds like both your lines may be clogged. I just had this problem last weekend. I ended up having to cut the main drain line and snake it both directions. After I was done I poured some bleach down it. That was Monday, as of today I don't have any water in my emergency pan.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:25 AM   #5
tx_basser
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Find out where it drains into your drain lines. Usually it connects to tail piece in a sink somewhere. You will need to take that apart and clean it out... usually the sediment will harden and create a serious plug.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:28 AM   #6
hog_down
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When was your house built? Not sure about your building code, but the others are correct. It should not be draining outside, that is for emergency. In my house, the drain goes into the guest bathroom shower.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tx_basser View Post
Find out where it drains into your drain lines. Usually it connects to tail piece in a sink somewhere. You will need to take that apart and clean it out... usually the sediment will harden and create a serious plug.
This. I had a similar issue but was able to run a snake from my sink instead of disconnecting everything.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:33 AM   #8
double bogey
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Cut the main line, blow it free with as much pressure as you need both directions (put a towel over the sink drains in case it goes to the sink, this will prevent any messes). When you cut the main line, have something under it to catch the water still in the unit.
Use a coupling to reconnect the main line.
You should not have water in the auxiliary pan. If it continues, get a pro to find out why water is going to the aux. pan. I see lots that drain there due to other issues.

if the drain goes to a sink, cover the drain in the sink to prevent nasty stuff from blowing all over the bathroom as I stated above. I have had to clean too many bathrooms because I neglected this.

Last edited by double bogey; 05-31-2019 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:33 AM   #9
pilar
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I run gel bleach and also some granulated bleach a couple of times a year = 4x per
Sometimes some drano , but mainly just vacuum with wet vac

House was built in the 1940’s so everything drains directly out side ( I get a snail or slugs stuck in the in the line every year

Last edited by pilar; 05-31-2019 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:34 AM   #10
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I cleared mine by finding the place underneath a sink where the drain line tied in and hooking up a shop vac with duct tape and vacuuming the clog out. I had to run back up to the unit and plug a vent in the line to make it work but I haven't had a problem since.
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Old 05-31-2019, 10:20 AM   #11
bowhntrmatt
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If you have already blown it out and its still backed up, I bet the clog is between the clean out and the primary pan, or the primary pan itself might be full of sludge.
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Old 05-31-2019, 10:34 AM   #12
muzzlebrake
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I used my shop vac on mine and sucked it out. Blowing air into the line might cause water to back up and spill over possibly doing water damage somewhere. My unit is in the attic so vacuum was the only way.
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Old 05-31-2019, 10:42 AM   #13
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It may have been mentioned but can you get and air compressor hose to it and blow it out? Form a seal with you hand and put the air to it. I bet it’s blocked where it drains into your sink or wherever it goes. Until then make sure your emergency drain is clear or you’ll have a mess. Good luck!
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Old 05-31-2019, 10:50 AM   #14
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Look under the sink of the bathroom closest to the air handler. If you see a rubber hose coming from the wall and ďtĒ into the sink drain, I am 90% positive that is where the clog is. Undo the 2 hose clamps and clean that sucker out!!


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Old 05-31-2019, 11:04 AM   #15
SabreKiller
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The emergency drain pan is doing what it's supposed to do. The HVAC guy looked the other day for where the main drain line empties, but was unable to find it. I'll go up in the attic and look again as it was headed towards the kitchen.

He tried compressed air, and I tried hot soapy water, bleach and one day used vinegar thinking that the hard water may have built up lime in the line.

I'd really like to snake the line with something like a 12 gauge brass brush but that might be a little over the top!

This house was built in the 90's and the handler is close to the middle of the house.
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Old 05-31-2019, 11:21 AM   #16
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Compressed air and put a towel over the sink. I learned the hard way I had junk sprayed all over my restroom.
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Old 05-31-2019, 11:51 AM   #17
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The best thing to do is install a pump to make sure the water always pushes it self out . But get the glog out 1st then install the pump so you want have the problem again.
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Old 05-31-2019, 01:46 PM   #18
trophyhunter01
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Or run a fish tape down it should not be a heavy blockage. When I did mine found some copper tubing scraps they installer dropped down the drain pipe. Also where mine hooked into a sink line for the drain the Y pipe had a really small hole and got the one for a dishwasher drain. No problems since. Good luck.
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Old 05-31-2019, 02:07 PM   #19
wow
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X2 On the fish tape. Both of our houses drain to the washing machine drain.
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Old 05-31-2019, 03:37 PM   #20
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I use one of those hand rooters you can get at Walmart for running down pipes to clear them out. Worked on mine.
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Old 05-31-2019, 03:44 PM   #21
SabreKiller
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I'll crawl up there again this evening. When its hot of course! LOL! I'm pretty sure the line runs to the kitchen. I can see it headed that direction and I'm pretty sure that's why they put the P trap in the line.
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Old 05-31-2019, 04:21 PM   #22
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Most likely they put a p trap in the line because the connection is under negative pressure. The p trap is to break the vacuum and allow the water to drain out. if you have a heat pump, or electric heat this is the case. If you have gas or propane, the drain connection will be at positive pressure, and a trap is not required. I don't care for p traps in a positive pressure system, due to the fact that lots of clogs occur in the p trap.

As noted, a/c drains are connected to the sewer system at a sink or washing machine, before the sink or washing machine p trap. They cannot be directly connected to the sewer system, as the small trap will dry when the a/c isn't being used, and sewer gas could be drawn into the living space by the system fan, especially in a negative pressure system. (at least this is the logic I apply for this part of the code)

Code now requires a float switch to be installed to shut down the a/c to prevent water damage when lines are clogged.
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Old 05-31-2019, 04:41 PM   #23
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I had this problem once a few years back. A cup of bleach every time I change the filter, no more problems
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Old 05-31-2019, 05:04 PM   #24
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Any HVAC folks on here care to comment on using bleach? Our company recommends against it as their opinion is that the fumes corrode the unit. They recommend vinegar.
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Old 05-31-2019, 05:19 PM   #25
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Thank You to the OP for this I forgot about mines-dropping a cup of bleach down the PVC
vent pipe tonight
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Old 05-31-2019, 06:41 PM   #26
SabreKiller
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Ok, I found that the main drain line connects to the 1/2 bath sink vent line up in the attic. I have blown through it and it seems clear. I poured bleach down the line and we can hear it running down the line. The emergency drain pan is still half full though and is draining out through the soffit like it’s supposed to. There is a lot of condensation dripping into the pan. Should I pull the panel off and look in there to see where it’s coming ing from?
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Old 05-31-2019, 07:34 PM   #27
double bogey
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Where is it dripping into the pan from? the drain pipe, or the side of the unit?
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Old 05-31-2019, 07:46 PM   #28
SabreKiller
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It appears to be coming from the side of the unit.
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Old 05-31-2019, 08:00 PM   #29
double bogey
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If it is coming from the side of the unit, it isn't getting in the main drain. Make sure the trap at the unit is clear. Is this a very old unit? You could have a drain pan with holes in it, ( I have replaced several systems in the last couple of years for this reason), or you could have airflow causing water to come off the coil and miss the pan. Air turbulence will also cause water to blow out of the pan. if the trap is clear, you may need a pro to get involved.


There are mixed answers on bleach in the drain. If I had metal drain pans, I wouldn't want bleach near them due to corrosion. Water treatment people have told me that the stuff that grows in the drain line isn't algae, so bleach may not be effective. But a lot of the condensate pan treatments are chlorine based. I can tell you it looks like snot.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:07 PM   #30
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Yep, could be older unit and evap pan is rusted out
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:23 PM   #31
SabreKiller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by double bogey View Post
If it is coming from the side of the unit, it isn't getting in the main drain. Make sure the trap at the unit is clear. Is this a very old unit? You could have a drain pan with holes in it, ( I have replaced several systems in the last couple of years for this reason), or you could have airflow causing water to come off the coil and miss the pan. Air turbulence will also cause water to blow out of the pan. if the trap is clear, you may need a pro to get involved.


There are mixed answers on bleach in the drain. If I had metal drain pans, I wouldn't want bleach near them due to corrosion. Water treatment people have told me that the stuff that grows in the drain line isn't algae, so bleach may not be effective. But a lot of the condensate pan treatments are chlorine based. I can tell you it looks like snot.

Iíll take some pic of the unit tomorrow when itís cooler. Iíll turn the power off and pull the panel so you can look at it.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:41 PM   #32
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The dripping on the side of the unit is most likely just condensation. Hard to say without seeing in person though.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:49 PM   #33
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The dripping on the side of the unit is most likely just condensation. Hard to say without seeing in person though.
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Old 05-31-2019, 09:57 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dustoffer View Post
Any HVAC folks on here care to comment on using bleach? Our company recommends against it as their opinion is that the fumes corrode the unit. They recommend vinegar.

Iím not a hvac pro, but last class I took about it they said bleach is no longer recommended. I believe the fumes can corrode a type of metal in the coil. Peroxide or vinegar/hot water mix is recommended. Never use drano.


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Old 05-31-2019, 09:58 PM   #35
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My AC guy told me baking soda.
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Old 05-31-2019, 10:04 PM   #36
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Ive had two different hvac companies recommend bleach or drano in the pvc drain line. I guess I’ll try vinegar.
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Old 05-31-2019, 10:05 PM   #37
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If you cut the main drain pipe put a union on it instead of a coupling for when it happens in the future! We blow ours out every 2 years roughly!


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Old 05-31-2019, 10:12 PM   #38
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Get the drain tablets on amazon. 200 for under $20 will last for years.
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Old 06-02-2019, 06:54 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justindiehl7 View Post
If you cut the main drain pipe put a union on it instead of a coupling for when it happens in the future! We blow ours out every 2 years roughly!


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When I cut one I put a rubber coupling with hose clamps on, that is made for this purpose.
Did you ever open the the system up for pics?
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Old 06-02-2019, 07:28 PM   #40
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Is it possible that the unit is no longer level causing the water not to get to the main drain.
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Old 06-02-2019, 08:46 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by double bogey View Post
When I cut one I put a rubber coupling with hose clamps on, that is made for this purpose.
Did you ever open the the system up for pics?
We just have a pvc union that screws together, unscrew it and it allows you to blow air into it with a compressor.
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Old 06-03-2019, 12:09 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bowhntrmatt View Post
If you have already blown it out and its still backed up, I bet the clog is between the clean out and the primary pan, or the primary pan itself might be full of sludge.
My advice still stands. Clog is upstream of the clean out.
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Old 06-03-2019, 02:00 AM   #43
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When you open the panel is the primary pan full or empty? If it’s empty then you most likely have holes or cracks in it. If it’s full and over flowing then you probably have some blockage before the clean out.
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Old 06-03-2019, 09:20 AM   #44
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When I installed the drain on my shop ac I put a ball valve directly off the air handler drain. That goes across to a tee with the top of the run open. If I ever have a blockage I can close the ball valve and blow down the line through the open top of the tee to clear.
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Old 06-03-2019, 09:54 AM   #45
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I never got a chance to open it up and take pictures. I blew the line out and poured a bunch of bleach down the line. The over flow pan is no longer draining out the soffit. I think the issue is ok for now, but I'm still wanting to pull the panel off and take a look. I want to make sure that the main drain pan is not running slow or clogged as well.
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Old 06-03-2019, 09:57 AM   #46
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I had enough buildup that water wouldn't drain, but air passed just fine. Bleach wouldn't dissolve it. Replaced the section of pipe, easy but had to cut into it and figure it out.
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