90% in attic - drain line freezing

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Old 01-17-12, 06:16 PM
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90% in attic - drain line freezing

High efficiency furnace, on it's side in the attic. Drains outside. Gets frozen in the winter backs up into the furnace, furnace stops working.
I have tried a few things, and heard all the advice in the world. What it comes down to is it is not the best set-up for this furnace; I know that now, but I did not install it, the previous homeowners did. So now I am stuck with the headache and trying to find a solution.
After this weekend's deep freeze I have disconnected the drain and have the condensation going into a pan that I empty twice day. Not a long term solution, I know. Most advice leads to drilling a hole though the ceiling and let it drain somewhere in the house. Unfortunately I have no kitchen or bathroom or laundry nearby. I'm ready to just drill into the bedroom below and stick a bucket down there.
Any other ideas?
 

Last edited by hvactechfw; 01-17-12 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 01-17-12, 07:01 PM
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Tap into a soil pipe in the attic and run drain to there (if the drain is connected to your a/c drain then you must either seperate the drains or put a trap on the a/c drain and fill with RV antifreeze). Otherwise your only solution is heat tape on the drain line.

One other solution would be to replace the furnace with an 80% efficent furnace (while they are still available).
 
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Old 01-18-12, 12:54 AM
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The trap in the furnace itself can freeze up.

The only solution is to use heat tape. (around the drain line and trap)

Some manufacturers have instructions on the use of heat tape - google the model number.
 
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Old 01-20-12, 11:03 PM
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Depending on the area, a condensate pump may be another option to consider.

I hope that 80% furnaces will be available for at least another 20 years. Almost every furnace is located in the attic in my area.
Basements are not common around here.

Carrier used to have a chart showing that 80% furnaces were recommended for this zone on their site. I don't see it anymore. It's January and 72 degrees outside tonight.

90% furnaces are becoming more common here as houses get tighter and combustion air is less available.

My gas bill increases 30 dollars a month in winter.
I wouldn't want the headache of a 90% furnace in exchange for 16% of $30 for 2 or 3 months a year.
 
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Old 01-21-12, 06:07 AM
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Thank you for the info. Can heat tape go on a plastic pipe? My neighbor suggested replacing it with a copper pipe then add the heat tape.
 
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Old 01-21-12, 06:35 AM
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@ Houston - check with your local dealers as I have been told that this is the last year for 80% furnaces per government regulation.

@jennifer - yes heat tape can go on plastic pipe, it doesn't get it hot it keeps it warm. You WILL need to locate the trap and wrap it as well. Also insulate the pipe with insulation after the heat tape is installed will help.
 
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Old 01-21-12, 08:03 AM
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Wow, that would be alarming.
I do not see anything online to support the phase out of 80% furnaces in the United States.

Perhaps this is a local thing.

I see that Canada had a scheduled phase out of these furnaces in 2009 aye.
Mid-Efficiency Furnace Phase Out
 
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Old 01-21-12, 09:12 AM
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might consider a metal pan and a mini-flood light mounted over it so as the condensate drips the warmed up pan will evap it out........1" depth of salt in the bottom of the pan won't hurt the absorbing
 
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Old 02-28-12, 06:11 PM
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I had my neighbor attempt to install a copper pipe and wrap it with heat tape. Turns out we cannot access the whole drain pipe, most especially where it connects to the a/c drain pipe. It is in the attic, unaccessable without taking apart the system. We have been blessed with a mild winter, so it has not frozen up on me too many times, however, I still need a permanent solution and am at a loss. I'm getting to the point where I don't care what it costs to fix it, I just don;t know who to even call, a plumber? A contractor? No one seems to want to help me.
 
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Old 02-28-12, 06:33 PM
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Larger diameter pipe and a steeper drain line will reduce the probability of freezing up the drain line. But the furnace itself can freeze up.

You might consider abandoning the existing line in favor of one that is more accessible.

Perhaps a larger diameter pipe --- 3/4" or 1" PVC draining out onto the roof might make things work.

Can you elbow down into the heated living spaces and dump the condensate in a drain or washtub?

You'd have to think about the possibilities and how they might work in practice.

Fun, eh?
 
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Old 02-29-12, 09:52 AM
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Well, this time it was not frozen. I disconnected the drain line last night and let it drip into a pan since I knew it would be below freezing last night, then today, no heat! It's been intermittent all morning while waiting for the gas company to arrive, so now we're thinking clogged Condensate Drain Connection? Looks like I've got a double whammy on my hands and have been reading that Bryant's are notorious for this. Ugh.
 
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