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Old 05-11-2011, 01:37 PM   #1
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Central Air Secondary Drain Leaking - 3 questions


Hi All,

I have what will hopefully be a quick question to answer.

I just moved into a new home. I recently turned on my central air conditioner (located in the basement), and noticed it is leaking quite a bit of water. In the process of making its way to the floor, the water ran through the electrical components of the furnace (see "Whole Unit" attachment, the a/c evaporator sits above furnace), which can't be good. I've shut down the system completely and called in a service request, but they can't make it May 23rd.

Because I don't have an owner's manual for the air conditioner, I've done some internet research on water leaks. The most probable cause seems to be a clogged drain line.

With that said, the only visible dripping water I found is coming from what I assume is the secondary drain line (the copper opening on the left, see attached "Secondary Drain Line" picture). The plastic container is holding about 1.5 hours worth of water and I have no idea how much leaked before I noticed. I bolded and underlined "assume" because I'm not certain that this is indeed a secondary drain line. That is, I couldn't locate any other drain hose/line coming from the unit other than the copper piping to the right of this opening (see picture) which runs up to the floor joists. Further, this copper piping is located slightly higher than what I'm assuming is the secondary drain. I have no idea how to open the system up and look at the fan unit or evaporator coils. Thus, I will not be opening anything up without proper instruction.

So, I hope I've provided you with enough background information to answer three questions:

1) Is this leak coming from the secondary drain line? Or, is what I am assuming is the secondary drain line actually the primary drain line?
2) Will hooking up piping from this secondary line to a floor drain remedy the situation?
3) With water leaking all over the furnace's electrical components, is the unit safe to run in the meantime if we need to wait until our service appointment?

Thanks in advance for you help!
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Central Air Secondary Drain Leaking - 3 questions-secondary-drain-line.jpg   Central Air Secondary Drain Leaking - 3 questions-whole-unit.jpg  

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Old 05-11-2011, 01:52 PM   #2
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Central Air Secondary Drain Leaking - 3 questions


That appears to be the primary drain line since it's lower then the other. Run a hose to the floor drain. Let the electrical componets dry out before using.

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Old 05-11-2011, 01:54 PM   #3
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Central Air Secondary Drain Leaking - 3 questions


A secondary drain should NEVER leak. You should have a primary and a secondary drain line so two drain lines. If the primary backs up then and only then should the condensate water travel through the secondary drain which as well should be piped to somewhere or have a float switch in it.

I can't say about all systems but from what have put my hands on drain lines are pvc, not copper so I'm left a bit confused as to what is going on with your evaporator.

Usually the drain lines have female threading coming from the evaporator so again, the straight copper line is confusing me.

Here are some pics of what I'm used to seeing. Note the drain lines on the bottom and the copper lines, refrigerant lines, up top.




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Old 05-11-2011, 02:09 PM   #4
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Central Air Secondary Drain Leaking - 3 questions


Marty S - Thanks for the quick reply. I was thinking it was the primary drain line, but why would the previous homeowner ever remove the drain piping? That didn't make sense to me.

Doc - Thanks for the reply. I can tell you the system itself is very, very old. If I had to guess 25+ years.


So, the consensus seems to be that I need to hook up piping to direct the water to the floor drain. Without threading, what do you suggest is the best method to do this? Also, do you recommend pvc vs. plastic tubing?

Thanks again!
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:14 PM   #5
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Central Air Secondary Drain Leaking - 3 questions


Thanks Marty. You were 100% correct, it is the primary drain line. I just found a picture from my home inspection and there was plastic tubing hooked up and run to the floor drain...many, many expletives!
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:17 PM   #6
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Central Air Secondary Drain Leaking - 3 questions


There are rubber boots called dish washer connectors that you'll use or a rubber 90 with hose clamps. The dish washer one will connect to hose, the other will connect to pvc. Either works so get whatever the local hardware store carries.
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:32 PM   #7
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Central Air Secondary Drain Leaking - 3 questions


Is that 1/4" (or 5/16", it's hard to tell from the pic) the liquid line to the evaporator coil?

Or is that small copper line a feeder for a humidifier? Are there any other drain lines coming from the evaporator case?

Either way, I would get a hose or clear plastic line hose clamped to that outlet and run it to the floor drain.

As far as why the original homeowner didn't have it connected...it's possible they never ran the AC.
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Old 05-11-2011, 03:20 PM   #8
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Central Air Secondary Drain Leaking - 3 questions


Quote:
Originally Posted by fabrk8r View Post
Is that 1/4" (or 5/16", it's hard to tell from the pic) the liquid line to the evaporator coil?

This is most likely the liquid line to the evaporator. I have very little knowledge about any of this, but I was pretty sure the copper line was not directing water away from the unit.

Or is that small copper line a feeder for a humidifier? Are there any other drain lines coming from the evaporator case?

The humidifier is not in the picture. It is attached on the far left of the unit to the air intake duct work. There are no other drain lines I could see.

Either way, I would get a hose or clear plastic line hose clamped to that outlet and run it to the floor drain.

Thanks for the advice!

As far as why the original homeowner didn't have it connected...it's possible they never ran the AC.

They did have a drain line connected (as seen in the attached picture from our house inspection), but they disconnected it before we moved in. The only reason I can think of for why they did this, is maybe they exchange the drain lines between the furnace or humidifier and a/c every season. Seems absolutely dumb if you ask me, but who knows...

Thanks again!
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