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Old 07-28-2009, 09:06 AM
 
617 posts, read 2,071,610 times
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Default Putting Bleach in AC Pipes to Prevent Clog

I had my AC unit repair a week ago. The guy told me that I should replace my AC pan (whatever that is) and said that I should put bleach in my AC drain pipe.

What is he talking about? Where is AC drain pipe and what is the purpose of bleach to prevent clogging?

Thanks,
Mary
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Old 07-28-2009, 10:30 AM
 
Location: 77059
7,663 posts, read 17,103,121 times
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Your mileage may vary, but my drain pipe runs from the attic down to behind a bathroom sink, clamped to the P-trap where it enters the wall.

If it gets clogged, the water will spill into a pan that has a safety float switch hanging off it, so if the water level gets too high it will shut down.

If you don't have a shutdown switch (old school) then you'll need to keep it clean unless you want a flood. Bleach might work the same way as Drain-o, as they both contain sodium hypochlorite.
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Old 07-28-2009, 11:13 AM
Status: "Is it football season yet?" (set 28 days ago)
 
Location: Katy
82 posts, read 323,968 times
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Beneath you're evaporator coil either in the attic or closet depending on how your home is constructed, you will find a pan, typically made of sheet metal designed to catch overflow water if your primary drain from the evaporator coil becomes clogged. As the previous poster stated, the primary drain is usually designed to drain beneath a sink in one of your bathrooms. When this becomes clogged, the secondary drain comes into play. Water drops into the pan and drains out of the house by a pipe near your roof. If that pipe is drpping, you have a clogged primary drain. When the secondary drain becomes clogged, the pan can overflow and cause water damage. They do make switches that will cut off your unit if the secondary drain also clogs, but most people don't have them. When the water in the pan rises too high, the switch is pushed up and breaks the circuit causing your unit to cut off. I've never actually done this, but a little bleach supposedly helps to prevent your pipes from clogging up.

Hopefully he told you how much bleach to use and how often to do it. Just pour it in the pan and it should drain right through. BTW, pouring bleach into a drain already clogged isn't likely to do much of anything. This is usually done to prevent a clog, not to clear one.

Last edited by BBall Coach; 07-28-2009 at 11:24 AM..
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Old 07-28-2009, 02:19 PM
 
Location: 77059
7,663 posts, read 17,103,121 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBall Coach View Post
They do make switches that will cut off your unit if the secondary drain also clogs, but most people don't have them.

I guess this depends on your jurisdiction. After our new compressor/condensor/evaporator install, an inspector w/ the City of Houston came out and failed it due to not having a shutdown float switch. So the guys I hired came out and installed one in about 10 minutes. You just make a simple splice to the main power and hang/clamp it on the edge of the pan. $5 extra of insurance.
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:19 AM
 
226 posts, read 465,960 times
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Don't put bleach just get a wet/dry vac and vacuum out the primary condensate drain line periodically. A drain pan float switch or a flow switch installed on the secondary or overflow drain line is a good idea. I have always installed drain pans without float switches and then plumbed the secondary line over an obvious area like a window. Just use a wet/dry vac and make sure you change your filter or clean it every month.
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:07 AM
Status: "Is it football season yet?" (set 28 days ago)
 
Location: Katy
82 posts, read 323,968 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tstone View Post
I guess this depends on your jurisdiction. After our new compressor/condensor/evaporator install, an inspector w/ the City of Houston came out and failed it due to not having a shutdown float switch. So the guys I hired came out and installed one in about 10 minutes. You just make a simple splice to the main power and hang/clamp it on the edge of the pan. $5 extra of insurance.
Sounds like they may require float switches now perhaps, but several years ago, it was only optional. The majority of the homes I saw didn't have them and this was older homes and new construction. They typically don't cost much and are well worth the extra investment in my opinion. Something so small and simple could end up saving you much more $$$ in the event that you have a serious clog.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amirelez View Post
Don't put bleach just get a wet/dry vac and vacuum out the primary condensate drain line periodically. A drain pan float switch or a flow switch installed on the secondary or overflow drain line is a good idea. I have always installed drain pans without float switches and then plumbed the secondary line over an obvious area like a window. Just use a wet/dry vac and make sure you change your filter or clean it every month.
Wet vacs work like a charm, especially if you don't have the equipment to blow the drain out with high pressure compressed air.
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:41 AM
 
226 posts, read 465,960 times
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If you need a new, I'm guessing emergency overflow pan, The guy should have installed one for you. You can also just call up any air conditioning company that does sheet metal work and tell them to make you one. You should have made him show you what he was talking about and then had him install a new one. Here is how to clean your condensate drain [note: this guy is disgusting getting that crap all over his hands, you don't have to do that] YouTube - A/C condensate drain cleaning video

Here is a condensate pan in this video the guy is talking about negative pressure but just pay attention to the obvious pan underneath the air handler and that would be your emergency overflow condensate pan. YouTube - hvac fixing a water leak problem on an air handler

I can only guess it was the emergency overflow condensate pan. If the pan was not too bad and maybe had a small hole here or there you can put some gutter sealant on it or buy some cooler coating like they sell for oh I forget they don't have swamp coolers in Houston. I must say bleach may kill the algae in the line but it may make the PVC brittle? I don't know never thought of doing that. Good Luck

Last edited by amirelez; 07-29-2009 at 08:03 AM..
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:55 AM
 
617 posts, read 2,071,610 times
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Thanks for all the useful answers! I might take a picture and post it over here so I know where to put the draining liquid or bleach.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:12 AM
 
Location: Richmond, TX.
125 posts, read 378,915 times
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You can not see your main pan. it is located in the box that all your ducts are hooked up to then leave and go to your vents. There should be a pipe vent that when the A/C is turned off you can pour bleach down that pipe which runs into the pan and down the drain into your system. This is the only way to keep that drain clear of the mold that could clog that drain. The 2nd pan is located under the A/C coil area, this pan is visible and out in the open. This is the pan that drains to the out side of your home. This is also the pan that everyone is saying to put the float on. This pan should always be dry. If this pan has water flowing in it and you see water dripping out side where the drain is then your main drain is plugged up.
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Old 07-29-2009, 12:38 PM
 
19 posts, read 80,229 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tstone View Post
I guess this depends on your jurisdiction. After our new compressor/condensor/evaporator install, an inspector w/ the City of Houston came out and failed it due to not having a shutdown float switch. So the guys I hired came out and installed one in about 10 minutes. You just make a simple splice to the main power and hang/clamp it on the edge of the pan. $5 extra of insurance.
I had a new a/c system installed about a month ago and no COH inspection was performed. No float switch was installed so I called the COH's mechanical inspection department at 713-535-7755 just now to confirm that an inspection should have been done and if a float switch is required. The inspector, Jim, replied that an inspection is indeed required but the float switch is not for residential installs.
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