A/C Maintenance


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Old 06-21-24, 04:59 AM
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A/C Maintenance

So long story short , I had a major leak under my wood flooring into an adjoining bedroom and the last thing I realized it was my air handler. The system is about 18 months old and I built a closet around it in the corner of my living room since it was where the existing air return was and is the center of the house. I also had a new duct system built around it. I am using a pump and every 3-4 months the system would stop and I’d call my AC guy who installed it and he’d take the pipes apart and clean them and inside the pump and it would work again.

This time with the major leak,it didn’t work. It would start running and dripping lots of water from the holding frame around the air filter. He had to take the front of the unit off and vacuumed out the drain pain it was full of gunk and he had not previously done it since it was first installed. My question is this, if I get proactive about maintaining it myself like clean the pump out and external pipes to the pump every two months ,change the filter every month in summer (verses ever two like I have been doing) will the inside tray still get that bad and start leaking again?

He made the comment that the unit needs to be cut from the plenum and a secondary drip trey put under it for the future & a gravity based train system put in instead of a pump. It has a float sensor, but interestingly it was never triggered. I think instead of all of that work and installing a gravity based system which would involve running the pipe across an interior door of the closest bedroom, I can just buy a few WiFi water sensors and put them directly under the air handler where it started leaking and just get serious about proactive maintainance. Maybe every six months taking the front off and vacuuming out the inside drain pan and using tablets.

What do you guys think? I didn’t like the leak at all lots of water we had to mop up in the bedroom closest to the air handler.
 
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Old 06-21-24, 08:15 AM
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Kinda strange an 18 month old system clogged the drain so soon. What’s the gunk he’s cleaning out?
in any handler installation in an attic or closet there should always be an auxiliary drain pan installed. Properly piped, condensate pumps work reliably. Is the float switch mounted in the drain pan in the unit, or is it in the pump?
if it’s in the pan, you should check the float and see what the level would be where it cuts out and adjust it if necessary.
looks like you’ll have to keep monitoring the drain system and keep it clean.
Do you have a pic of this installation?
 
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Old 06-21-24, 09:53 AM
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Sure,

https://photos.app.goo.gl/XFwex1hTriqGBHwM6


it was brownish like clay. Also, I use MERV 13 filters every 2 months since I have a pet. I researched and 13 is the m=limit you can use with residential units before it makes too much of a blockage.

The float switch is attached to a pipe that looks like it goes into the drain pan inside from the positioning when he had removed the front cover. The interesting thing is that pipe was dry as it was leaking water while running. After it hit the temp, it dumped out a lot more water from the bottom sides of the filter and it sounded like gurgling as the unit was running like the suction was keeping all of the water held in. This went on for 48 hours before I realized it was the air handler and not any of the 14 inch rain storms we’ve been having recently or a plumbing issue since the shower lines run parallel above the plenum and both times it leaked into the bedroom were after I had showered or had a bad rain storm lol.
 

Last edited by PJmax; 06-21-24 at 02:23 PM. Reason: added labeled picm from link
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Old 06-21-24, 09:56 AM
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I've run into problems with gunk buildup. Adding vinegar to the pipes and/or pump should help reduce mold/algae growth Bleach does wonders too, but can harm the plastic parts over time.

Agreed that there should be a drip pan under the whole system so any leaks are caught. Add in a float switch and water alarm since everyone has had drip pans fill up.

Is the unit open at all to the bedroom? It sounds like it's collecting excessive dust too, might that be the case? Maybe a better filter would help too.
 
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Old 06-21-24, 02:44 PM
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It's time for a new " real" A/C guy.
The red arrow is pointed to the overflow switch.
It does not look wired..... is it ?
You have a condensate pump with an overflow switch.
The blue arrow is pointing to unconnected float wires.
Those wires should be connected with main float switch.
Seriously... the pump inside a dish pan.

It's pretty obvious that you can't possibly get a drain line clog.
Your clog is inside the air handler where the two drain lines connect. (purple circle)

This is what you need to do.....

You remove the overflow switch.
Install a tee with the overflow switch in the right side.
Install a 1' piece of 3/4" pipe above the tee with a cap. (cap IS NOT glued on).
When time to clean.... turn off air handler. Remove cap.
Pour in one cup of regular bleach.
Wait five minutes and pour in a half gallon of warm/hot water.
The crap will wash out and go into the pump.
The bleach will also help clean the condensate pump.

As a further note..... I'm fairly certain there should be a trap on the main drain line.
 
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Old 06-21-24, 03:43 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions, yes the overflow switch is wired that’s when the system shuts off about 2x every year. He will come over take those pipes apart wash them and then do the same with the pump and everything is good again.

The unit is in a custom built closet after it was out in with 96 inch doors with slats. I through MERV 13 was the best? The cheap ones from Home Depot get sucked in lol.

He just called he’s coming over next week to remove the unit and install a secondary metal drain pan and convert to gravity PVC. I’ll just have to remember to walk over it when I go into the bedroom lol. I’ll show him your suggestions as well thanks!

BTW do you know what type of hex this is? He told me 1/4, but I just got a 1/4 hex screw driver and it fits, but it’s not turning lol. It looks like it has six sides. I want to be able to get inside in the future if this leaking ever happens again and clean out the inside pan myself.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/dY9NhXs1MDz4jhmv5
 
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Old 06-21-24, 04:34 PM
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HVAC systems use predominately 5/16" hex head screws but some do use the smaller 1/4" size.
If it turns but won't come out... the hole is stripped.
Grab the head with vise grip pliers and pull out while turning CCW.

A hex screw has six sides....
 
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Old 06-21-24, 07:21 PM
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Ok, thanks ! Maybe it was 5/16th …
 
 

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