Unless you've been on an extended vacation in the tropics, no doubt you have encountered some sub-freezing temperatures over the last few weeks. While a white Christmas is the subject of many songs and the dream of school kids everywhere, if the bone-chilling, frostbite-inducing cold hangs around too long it can wreak havoc on your home.
This past week we encountered one of our listings that had an issue with a frozen condensate drain. "What's that?" you say? The condenser unit of your HVAC system has a large pan that collects the excess moisture that the system pulls out of the air in your home. This collected water drains out of the pan through a pipe to the outside of your home. Due to the below-freezing temps we've been having the water in the pipe (outside) froze so the pan couldn't drain. But the heat was still on (inside) pulling more moisture out of the air. You see the problem here. Yep, that's right. The pan filled up and, before the float switch could cut the heat unit off, it overflowed. Into the ceiling, through the insulation and into the drywall ceiling leaving a nasty stain and dangling bits of drywall. Of course, once the float functioned properly and shut down the HVAC unit, the house temperature dropped below freezing and caused potential problems with pipes as well.
The solution to the problem was relatively simple. The installation of "heat tape" to the pipe. If you're not familiar with heat tape and you live anywhere north of the Equator, you should familiarize yourself. Basically, it looks like an extension cord. You plug it in and wrap the tape around the pipe. It heats up like an electric blanket and keeps the pipe warm, which keeps the water draining out of the condensate pan and, therefore, allows the heat to stay on in the house.
Bill and Cyndi Daves
Stick around for Part 2.