A/C Drainage Pipe clogged... water backing up into hallway

Hi everyone,
My house has the inside A/C unit in the hallway with the drain pipe going down into the foundation where it comes out on the side of the house for drainage. There's an overflow tub which the hotwater heater sits in (next to inside A/C unit) and the drainage pipe splits off and goes into this tub in-case the hot water heater leaks... it can also use the drainage line.
Problem is I think the drainage pipe is clogged somewhere down the line. This morning I woke-up and stepped into quite a puddle of water in the hallway. The overflow tub under the waterheater was full of water and overflowing.
Problem #1 -- if the line is clogged, how would I unstop it? There's a 90 degree angle from the overflow tub so not sure how to get into that with a snake or whatever.
Problem #2 -- whoever installed this setup (prior home owner I think) they didn't put any angle in the pipe that goes from the A/C drainage line to the overflow tank, so as the water runs down the pipe from A/C some always flows back into the overflow tank. See below for some pics. On days when I run the A/C quite a bit, this is causing water to really backup in the overflow tank and starting to rust the bottom of hot waterheater. I try to keep the overflow tank drained with towels or whatever, but does no good.
- Side view of overflow tank with pipe. Pipe from top goes up to A/C and down into the foundation where it runs out the side of house. There's no angle in the lateral line to force water from the A/C to go down the pipe. Instead it often goes back into the overflow tub -- http:// 24.162.137.108/~rlangly/pics/pipe1.jpg
-- Entire shot of A/C and water heater with pipe -- http:// 24.162.137.108/~rlangly/pics/pipe2.jpg
So.. if the pipe needs to be professionally unclogged or reworked even, who would I call?? An A/C guy or plumber? Right now the A/C is turned off (luckily we're in a cooler spell here in Central Texas) and I have a fan on the area under the closet to dry-up the water.
Any ideas? Should I snake-out the line from the outside of the house inward? Should I have someone rework the inside pipeing so the A/C drains better without running into the overflow tub? Is this even piped properly?? I understand the theory behind the overflow tub for the hot waterheater, but if the A/C pipe is draining back into this tub, causes more problems then fixes.
Thanks for any advice or suggestions. Oh, and incase someone is thinking the water is from the hot water heater... it's not. The A/C has been off for about 2 hours now and I sucked all water out of the overflow tub under the hot water heater. It's dry now with no water recollecting. Only collects when the A/C is running.
Take care,
- Ringo -
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Your pic link is bad.
Blow it out with air and pour some bleach in the drain, probably mold and dirt
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi everyone,
My house has the inside A/C unit in the hallway with the drain pipe going down into the foundation where it comes out on the side of the house for drainage. There's an overflow tub which the hotwater heater sits in (next to inside A/C unit) and the drainage pipe splits off and goes into this tub in-case the hot water heater leaks... it can also use the drainage line.
Problem is I think the drainage pipe is clogged somewhere down the line. This morning I woke-up and stepped into quite a puddle of water in the hallway. The overflow tub under the waterheater was full of water and overflowing.
Problem #1 -- if the line is clogged, how would I unstop it? There's a 90 degree angle from the overflow tub so not sure how to get into that with a snake or whatever.
Problem #2 -- whoever installed this setup (prior home owner I think) they didn't put any angle in the pipe that goes from the A/C drainage line to the overflow tank, so as the water runs down the pipe from A/C some always flows back into the overflow tank. See below for some pics. On days when I run the A/C quite a bit, this is causing water to really backup in the overflow tank and starting to rust the bottom of hot waterheater. I try to keep the overflow tank drained with towels or whatever, but does no good.
- Side view of overflow tank with pipe. Pipe from top goes up to A/C and down into the foundation where it runs out the side of house. There's no angle in the lateral line to force water from the A/C to go down the pipe. Instead it often goes back into the overflow tub -- http:// 24.162.137.108/~rlangly/pics/pipe1.jpg
-- Entire shot of A/C and water heater with pipe -- http:// 24.162.137.108/~rlangly/pics/pipe2.jpg
So.. if the pipe needs to be professionally unclogged or reworked even, who would I call?? An A/C guy or plumber? Right now the A/C is turned off (luckily we're in a cooler spell here in Central Texas) and I have a fan on the area under the closet to dry-up the water.
Any ideas? Should I snake-out the line from the outside of the house inward? Should I have someone rework the inside pipeing so the A/C drains better without running into the overflow tub? Is this even piped properly?? I understand the theory behind the overflow tub for the hot waterheater, but if the A/C pipe is draining back into this tub, causes more problems then fixes.
Thanks for any advice or suggestions. Oh, and incase someone is thinking the water is from the hot water heater... it's not. The A/C has been off for about 2 hours now and I sucked all water out of the overflow tub under the hot water heater. It's dry now with no water recollecting. Only collects when the A/C is running.
Take care,
- Ringo -
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Take your garden hose and blast it a couple of times until it flows freely.....

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi...
Thanks for the replies thus far. The pic links for some reason had a space in them, so they should be:
http://24.162.137.108/~rlangly/pics/pipe1.jpg
http://24.162.137.108/~rlangly/pics/pipe2.jpg
(slow upstream connection, but should download in a few seconds)
I'll try to blow some water and bleach through the pipes this afternoon and maybe that'll work. Thanks for that suggestion.
I still have a concern with the way the lateral pipe going to the overflow tub from A/C drain pipe has no angle. This causes the drainage water from A/C to often flow into the overflow tub instead of down the drain pipe. My 'solution' to this after I moved in last year was stuffing a rag into the pipe since the water was starting to rust the bults and bottom of my waterheater.
But for now the main focus is getting the drainage line cleared out.
Thanks and take care. Oh, and sorry for the double-post -- Google was acting up something fierce this morning.
- Ringo -

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 17 Aug 2004 09:33:50 -0700, Ringo Langly wrote:

I personally wouldn't put bleach in until I had the clog out - particularly if using compressed air or water pressure to clear the clog. Bleach is not good for the skin or eyes and you just might wind up splashing things around a bit with either of the above two methods of clearing the clog.

Putting bleach into the drain line will cause the rusting to happen faster if it gets into the water heater pan and onto the water heater, so fixing this backflow problem should be a fairly high priority after the clog removal.

After clearing the clog, I'd suggest that you go ahead and see what you can do to the water heater pan to keep the AC water from flowing into it. Be sure to turn the water heater off before draining it if you plan to raise it.
Looks to me like the 3/4 inch plywood underneath the pan suggestion would work fine, just make sure that the T fitting isn't raised the full amount above the floor when you raise the pan - it the line is thin wall PVC, it'll bend a fair amount and give some slope between the pan and T. If the T fitting wants to raise the same amount as the pan when you raise it, you can push the T downward and put some weight on that end of the short line to keep it that way, or get the line between the pan and T hot. With the weight, the pipe will eventually keep the downward slope on it's own, or you can speed the process with heat - I used a hair dryer on high heat to get a small amount of bend into some thin wall PVC a while back.
The fella that installed my AC unit recommended pouring a cup of bleach down the evaporator coil drain every fall after I'm through using the AC for the year, not in the spring as was suggested in another post. Dunno if it really matters, but , to my way of thinking, the gunk that accumulates in the pipe would be softer and thus easier to dissolve and flush away in the fall before it dries out completely over the winter. That's not what I've been told, just the reasoning I figure for the instructions the AC man gave me.
Also, if you decide to use the option offered in an earlier post of cutting the drain line and putting in a coupling, I'd suggest that you glue the bottom side of the coupling, but not the top. That way there should be no possibility of leakage as the water flows down the line. With no glue to seal the lower connection, there is a possibility of leakage since the coupling fits over the lower pipe instead of inside it - a small chance admittedly, but I believe in taking Murphy's Law into account.
Later, Mike (substitute strickland in the obvious location to reply directly) ----------------------------------- snipped-for-privacy@att.net
Please send all email as text only - HTML mail is automatically filtered to the trash and I might not catch it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi...
Thanks for the replies thus far. The pic links for some reason had a space in them, so they should be:
http://24.162.137.108/~rlangly/pics/pipe1.jpg
http://24.162.137.108/~rlangly/pics/pipe2.jpg
(slow upstream connection, but should download in a few seconds)
I'll try to blow some water and bleach through the pipes this afternoon and maybe that'll work. Thanks for that suggestion.
I still have a concern with the way the lateral pipe going to the overflow tub from A/C drain pipe has no angle. This causes the drainage water from A/C to often flow into the overflow tub instead of down the drain pipe. My 'solution' to this after I moved in last year was stuffing a rag into the pipe since the water was starting to rust the bults and bottom of my waterheater.
But for now the main focus is getting the drainage line cleared out.
Thanks and take care. Oh, and sorry for the double-post -- Google was acting up something fierce this morning.
- Ringo -
BTW, once again Google is acting-up , so sorry if this pukes or does a double-post.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Find the pipe on the outside of the house and and use a shop vac to suck everything out of the pipe. You would be surprised what kinda crap ends up in your vac. I have a small adapter that attachs to my hose that will fit inside of the pipe but you can always rig something or just place the entire hose over the pipe and use some duct tape or something to get a tight seal.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I had a similar problem this past spring I tried using a snake but could not get by a 90 degree fitting, so I connected my wet/dry vacuum and sucked out the debris. It worked great. Good luck Jentra
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ringo Langly wrote:

Usually the AC has two drains. One directly from the evaporator unit to a house drain (such as the vent pipe for a sink) and the other from a pan beneath the AC unit.
When the primary drain clogs (algae usually), the condensate overflows to the fail-safe pan which often drains to the outside of the house. When THAT one clogs, the water overflows the pan and onto the ceiling.
Point is, you have TWO drains to unclog. They can be unclogged with a blast of compressed air (it's just slimey, oozey, mung) or a short blast from a garden hose.
As you putz around with the primary drain, it's a good idea to cut the PVC pipe and put a universal fitting on it. This makes it easier to repeat the job next year.
After clearing the clogs (remember, there are two), put a cup of bleach inside the evaporator unit (there's usually an access panel) to kill the residual growth. (There are slow-dissolving tablets that accomplish the same thing.)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ringo Langly wrote:

First, your links are broken because you put a space between the URL's double slashes and the numbers. It should be
http://24.162.137.108/~rlangly/pics/pipe1.jpg and
http://24.162.137.108/~rlangly/pics/pipe2.jpg
You say the drain pipe runs out to the side of the house. Is the end of the AC drain pipe exposed, or does it run into some other drain or sewer pipe? It may be obstructed near the end by dirt, debris, or an insect nest, like a wasp's. If you can find the end, you may be able to run a stiff wire up into the pipe to break up, or dislodge whatever is in there (I keep an old CB car antenna handy for jobs like this). A sudden flood of water will indicate success.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The good news is that all this piping is PVC and the other good news is you have plenty of access to it.
For clean out, consider cutting the PVC a few inches above the "tee" (that's the fitting that is touching the floor). You can use a hack saw or buy a pliers-like tool designed for this purpose. Once cut, you should be able to snake a coat hanger downward into the pipe and clear the stoppage. Buy a PVC coupling to mend the cut ends once you are successful. Normally, pieces of PVC are joined together with a solvent applied to both pieces but in this case, since the pipes are not under any pressure, I'd consider not using any solvent. That way, if the clog returns, you can just separate the PVC pipe at the coupling and have at it again.
Correcting the drainage problem will be a bit more work. Option #1 is to fly me out there from Atlanta and we'll fix it together.
Seriously, Option #2 is to raise the water heater (and pan) just a bit. Typically you would drain the heater (perhaps) and assuming the connections, gas, water and vent allow, slide a piece of 3/4" plywood under the pan.
Option #3 is to modify that "tee" ( another use for that hacksaw) so it is lower than the water heater pan. It's unclear if you have access underneath the tee fitting.

clip
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

As per some of the other posts--I have cleared the clog two ways. 1. Back flushed with a hose. Creates a mess and water every where but it worked. 2. Put a mixture of bleach and water in the drain pan. Let it sit, even overnight, if nothing comes out of the drain. To prevent the problem from occurring I now put about 2 qt. of the bleach/water mixture in the pan before every cooling season. MLD
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.