Newly installed Air Handler - condensate leaking out of ceiling


  #1  
Old 10-04-21, 08:30 PM
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Newly installed Air Handler - condensate leaking out of ceiling

Hi all, I recently had my a/c system replaced with a heat pump system (Less than 2 weeks ago).
The original was a 2.5-ton a/c. The new system is a 3-ton heat pump. I'm now having all sorts of drainage issues with the air handler and would like to confirm if the installation is incorrect. I don't have experience in HVAC, but after some research I can tell that it was done very poorly. I would like to better communicate the issues to the next crew that I hire to fix the issues.

The home only has 1 giant return duct, on the second floor in the hallway. The air handler is above the return, in the attic - mounted horizontally. A few days after the install, I noticed water dripping out of the return duct from the ceiling.
Went up into the attic, and the secondary drain pan was dry. Opened up the air handler and saw that it's flooded with water.
I called the installer back, only to have them bandaid the real issues with some slight modifications (explained below).

With the unit running, I stuck my head into the return to watch for water and can see that the blower is sucking up water out of the drain pan, and there are droplets of water that seem to be falling directly onto the blower housing - missing the drain pan.

I noticed the following things when I looked over their work (some of which I'm not sure are valid issues):
1) The V-shaped evaporator looks like it's installed backwards or upside-down, but I'm not 100% sure. Most photos I see of this same config, has the pointy end of the evaporator towards the blower motor. Looks like the side door was cut where the drain holes are to accomodate the upside-down evaporator. The diagram in the installation manual is also showing the pointy end of the V towards the blower (see photos).
2) The P-trap (or lack of). It looks more like a V-trap (?). I think that this issue along with the backwards evaporator are the main culprits.
3) Several of the PVC lines are not cemented, but don't seem to be leaking.
4) The secondary drain is piped into the primary drain pvc, shouldn't it run separately?
5) No overflow safety switch.
6) Their bandaid fix was: to raise the drain pan about 1/4" with some wood spacers, and add a piece of insulation to cover the open gap between the evaporator and the blower. The drain hole on the primary pan that they connected to initially seemed correct (lower hole). But after the band-aid visit, they switched to the higher hole and plugged the lower one... seems strange to me.

Attached are photos of the install.
Would appreciate any comments and advice on the above. The P-trap would be a pretty simple fix, but I'm really curious about the potentially backwards evaporator. Should I only focus on fixing the P-trap and not worry about the orientation of the evaporator?
Thank you

Model numbers of the equipment for reference (AirTemp 3-ton system):
Air Handler: AirTemp B6BMM042K-B
Heat Pump: AirTemp VSH1BE4M1SP36K


Air Handler layout. Air flow from left to right (return is on the left).

Bandaid drain setup

Install manual

Initial drain setup
 
  #2  
Old 10-05-21, 07:48 AM
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From what I see you have an installation that no HVAC tech expected anyone to ever see. The the A-coil would normally be indexed in the opposite direction, but, they apparently are installed like yours and still work properly.
The condensate is all wrong. You need two different drains with the second discharging in a manner conspicuous to the homeowner to indicate a problem. Ideally a water switch would be incorporated as well. New insulation on the suction line should be installed to prevent water drip. See attached video concerning condensate. Attic Air Conditioner Drip Pan Installation & HVAC Coil Catch Pan - CheckThisHouse
Improper condensate drain should be a code violation if you don't mind an inspector in your home.
Another thing that you might have checked is that it appeared they used the existing line-set. That isn't a problem if it is the correct size. Looking at the braze job on the liquid line it's obvious that a copper coupler was pinched down to a lower size than the 3/8" that the coil would usually have. That would lead me to believe you have a 5/16" or 1/4" line. I have had to run 3/8" liquid line to correct this in the past. What you have may be acceptable factoring in length and rise. I would give a call to "AirTemp" customer support to ask their guidance.
 
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Old 10-05-21, 09:05 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

A little rough around the edges there.
In a location where a condensate leak can cause damage.....a float safety switch is a must.
There should be a working platform there. At least some plywood over the open bay.

I see you're in the Northeast. Hopefully there are some reheat coils in that unit.

Definitely an issue with the condensate lines.
Hard to tell on the liquid size line. It does look smaller than 3/8" but would be doubtful in an attic installation. Looks like a 1/2" coupler may have been squeezed down to use on 3/8"
 
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Old 10-05-21, 05:37 PM
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Extremely poorly done trap for the drain. Looks like they repurposed what the old unit had. It’s not deep enough.
The rest of the install isn’t very good at all.
Velocity may be pulling moisture out of the pan.
 
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Old 10-06-21, 06:23 PM
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Update on the situation:
1) Purchased a proper p-trap and will install this weekend.
2) Purchased a safety float switch and will use that for the overflow. Question: Is it better to drain from the air handler overflow into the secondary and have a float switch on the secondary? Or to use the float switch directly in the overflow hole of the air handler?
3) Line set is original, so likely undersized. what symptoms will that result in?

After the p-trap fixes, will the blower likely quit sucking water out of the drain pan? Or do I need to maybe lower itís speed? Would that even be a valid fix?

Thanks!

 
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Old 10-06-21, 08:38 PM
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I would call the installer back and have them fix all that.
The main drain pan needs to have its own drain. Do not drain it into the secondary.
The entire drain around the unit needs redone
 
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Old 10-06-21, 10:57 PM
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I'm in agreement with post# 6 for handling the condensate issue.
Will the condensate repairs stop the blower from sucking out the water, probably not. As mentioned previously, air velocity could be a factor. Right now it appears your coil has been made to fit in a manner it wasn't made for. If doing so left any open area(s) between the perimeter of the vertical pan and the coil's case it could also give a path for blow-off, and reduce efficiency. I would also consider putting a level on the evap pan to confirm a slight pitch to the drain outlets. If nothing else works and you try altering the blower speed I would make sure it didn't adversely effect the temperature drop, also make sure to document it's original settings so you can go back if needed.
An under sized liquid line would give added restriction which isn't desirable, especially when the evaporator coil is above the condenser in a hot environment. Line length/size/bends/and lift all have an effect. This can cause reduced efficiency, decrease the life span of the compressor, and effect the warranty. It can also cause some odd readings, but that gets complicated. If your screen allows you to zoom out enough on the braze you'll see what I meant on size. If you don't have a measuring device to confirm it's 3/8", you could equip yourself with 3/8", 5/16", and 1/4" open-end wrenches to measure the line. Check the installation manual, or with customer service to make sure what you have is correct. Good luck
 
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Old 10-09-21, 10:00 PM
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Update on the situation:

I cut out and removed their entire ďtrapĒ assembly. I installed a proper p-trap in the lower outlet of the primary drain pan. Then installed a safety switch into the overflow outlet of the primary drain pan. I have not yet replaced the secondary drain pan (itís very rusted), but when I do, I plan to add a water sensor switch on the pan and wire it in series with the overflow safety switch.



Unfortunately my changes to the P-trap didnít fix the main issue:


  • The blower motor is still sucking water out of the edge of the primary drain pan, and onto the unit bottom insulationÖ flooding the unit and leaking water into the return vent and onto the ceiling drywall.
  • This negative pressure seems to still be preventing drainage while the motor runs.
  • I canít figure out if this caused by the gaps that allow air to bypass the evaporator right near the drain hole area, or if itís caused by an abnormally high negative pressure. I am running the system with no filter at the moment, to rule that out as being a cause of too high negative pressure.
  • The unit bottom insulation is completely soaked. Will it need to be replaced? What material can I replace it with?

I will double check the line sizing, but Iím 99% sure theyíre under sized , since theyíre the original lines from the 2.5 ton unit. I do plan on having them replaced at some point within a few months.

Thanks for any further suggestions.
 
 

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