How to Divert a Condensate Pipe
LESLIE: Chris in Texas is calling in with an air conditioning question. What can we do for you?
CHRIS: Yeah, I have a problem with my air conditioning unit. I have a central air unit in my – I have two zones – in my upstairs that I don’t use as often. But when I do turn it on, I have a major leak out the exit PVC pipe that goes to the outside and it just leaks all over my patio. And one of my fixes is additional PVC pipe to carry that water over into the yard …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Further away.
CHRIS: … but I’m trying to figure out how to fix the unit from doing it.
LESLIE: Well, isn’t that the condensate pipe, Tom? Like isn’t …?
TOM: That’s what it sounds like.
LESLIE: I think it’s supposed to leak.
CHRIS: Yeah, I believe it is but it’s just consistently leaking; I mean the water just …
TOM: Well, it’s not actually leaking. Think of it as draining. It’s part of the plumbing system of the AC. Because as you cool air, you dehumidify it and it pulls the moisture out and sends it down the pipe. Now …
LESLIE: Which is why you feel so nice in your house.
TOM: Right. So this is a good thing. OK? It’s not a leak like a plumbing leak; it’s supposed to be doing that. The issue is where it’s dropping the condensate. So your issue is that it’s dropping it on the roof? Where do you want it to go?
CHRIS: Well, it drops it onto the covered patio.
TOM: Alright. So we need to divert it. So is there a way to run the pipe somewhere else, Chris?
CHRIS: I probably could. I guess I’m having a hard time because the difference between the two units – I have the main unit downstairs – doesn’t leak or doesn’t drain the condensation like the upstairs one.
LESLIE: Well, I mean think about it; the second floor is much more warm, so you’re dealing with a lot more warm air, a lot more moisture in the air, so it’s really doing its best to pull all that moisture out so you actually feel cool. I mean this is our first year with our central air conditioning system and I’m amazed – I mean granted, in the northeast we have had tremendously high temperatures, as I imagine everybody else in this country, but there is just a tremendous amount of water that comes out of condensate pipe. And I mean it’s in the middle of my driveway and all I can think of is, “Well, if this were winter, I’d be slipping, sliding. But it won’t be happening in the winter.”
CHRIS: Sure, sure. OK. I was just worried it was a problem with the unit because I actually had a contractor tell me that I needed to pour half bleach, half water down one of the pipes to clear it out.
TOM: No, this is not a leak. This is condensate. That’s the condensate drain; that’s what it’s supposed to do. So you just need to figure out a better way to run it.
You know, there’s another thing that you can do, too. If you don’t want to run it outside, you could use something called a condensate pump and that could lift it up, even if you had to go sort of against gravity, and find a better place to pump it up across the house or something and drop it somewhere else.
CHRIS: I see. OK.
CHRIS: Well, if it’s supposed to be there, I’m happy with that. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Well, that’s right. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.