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Today’s lesson: Air Conditioner drain lines

I may be reasonably intelligent, but sometimes I miss the obvious. I have known since we bought our house that there is tubing running from the furnace across the floor and under a wall into a drain below the bathroom sink, but it never dawned on me why it was there.

Yesterday morning it became clear. I went downstairs for a shower and found the bath mat sopping wet. And more water standing on the floor. My initial reaction was to think that the sewer pipe had gotten clogged again; I’ve had to snake it out twice in the last 3 years. But no, my mother-in-law wasn’t here, so that couldn’t be it. [1] I cleaned up the water as best I could and then headed to work, but not before mentioning it to Becky who was up early with Addison.

Becky investigated further and found that the water was coming from that drain line. And that drain line carries the condensation that builds up on the air conditioner coils which are inside the blower there in the furnace. It ended up that the drain line had gotten totally clogged up, and finally the water had started leaking. So she turned off the air conditioner, cleaned up the rest of the mess, read up on the topic on the internet, and then called me to discuss the issue.

My initial reaction was to say “hey, let’s just stick a bucket under it and empty the bucket occasionally.” Then she told me that according to the internet the a/c can produce 5 – 9 gallons of water a day. I wasn’t expecting that. So the bucket idea was out. We ended up hitting Lowe’s (so nice to have a Lowe’s only 3 blocks from our house!) on the way to WT practice last night and picking up some new tubing and a few screw-on connectors so I can have a way, outside of cutting the tubing, to clean it out again if the need arises.

The other complication was that the previous owner of the house built a nice little wall around 2 sides of the furnace to hide it from sight and make a nice little hallway. Unfortunately, the drain pipe was on the back side of the furnace, towards the wall. So I spent a bunch of my repair time last night with my upper body shoved through a 15″ x 18″ hole I cut in the drywall. It probably would’ve made a funny picture, but thankfully Becky left the camera upstairs. I’ll put up a cabinet door or something over the hole so I can get to it next time if I need to.

By 9:30 last night I had it all fixed and the mess mostly cleaned up. I checked it this morning and the line was still draining nicely. All in all it only required a few hours of sweat and about ten bucks worth of parts. Not too awful, as home repairs go.

Oh, and I watched the water drain after I turned the a/c on last night. Five gallons per day is an understatement.

[1] The two times we’ve had serious water in the basement my mother-in-law has been here visiting. Both times.

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  1. Carol Hubbs Carol Hubbs

    This is one time I’m really glad I’m not visiting, or I would have gotten blamed for this mess also!! Happy to read you got it fixed without to much trouble or costing big bucks.

  2. Neal Brandl Neal Brandl

    I have always wondered why the waste water (condensation) from an Air Conditioner is not recycled to help cool the condensation coils of the Air conditioner. If the coils are being “cooled” by the ambient external air, would it not increase the efficiency of the unit by dripping the waste water externally on the hot condensation coils ?

    This would also elliminate the problem of wast water

    There must be an obvious answer to this question I just don’t know it

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