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Why you should Check for Frozen Furnace Drain Lines Outside

 

When temperatures drop in the winter, and there could even be ice and snow, one of the most worrying problems a homeowner might face is frozen furnace drain lines outside. This can cause a heating system failure, all of the sudden and at the worst possible time.

Frozen condensate lines are more common with high-efficiency equipment and systems.  When this takes place, many HVAC systems are created to shut off completely, leaving people and families scrambling for a solution. In reality, a significant repair may not be required as defrosting the frozen drainpipe lines should repair the problem.

 

What is a Condensate Line?

The condensate line, or furnace drain line, is a seemingly small part of your HVAC system, however it’s essential to the whole system. To prevent it from malfunctioning, it’s good to know why it’s necessary.

The condensate line is basically a drain. Moisture accumulates as air heats and cools in the HVAC system. This can quickly become an issue for the system, yet designers have considered this when producing the condensate line. The humidity condenses then passes through the line. This line runs outside where the drains out. These lines can be made up of PVC or metal.

Why is it Important?

Exposure to water will cause most equipment to malfunction or stop working. This is just as real with an air conditioning unit and furnaces. Moisture may cause rust, mold and bacteria – none of which you want in your air in your home. So the condensate line is vital to make certain you have stable cooling and heating, as well as healthy air. Modern cooling and heating units commonly send all excess moisture through the condensate line, either by pumping it via the line or utilizing gravity.

Why is my Furnace Drain Line Freezing?

Maybe this is a problem you have actually managed too many times, but you’d love to recognize why it keeps happening, despite efforts to stop it. First, a dirty or clogged condensate line is at higher risk of freezing.

An additional possibility to consider is the line itself being poorly set up or being wrong for your climate type. At times, condensate lines are not sloped appropriately, stopping the moisture from draining. In other cases, the drain line on your HVAC system may not be made with the necessary insulation, especially if you reside in an especially cold environment.

 

How Do you Know if your Furnace Drain Line is Frozen?

The very first step is identifying whether your condensate line is frozen or if you are experiencing some other problem. You know there’s a serious issue because you’re not getting heat or hot water in your house.

Check your heating system controller panel to make sure the heating unit has stopped working. If it’s out, the panel will likely show an error code – such as F4. This shows an error has been detected and the system has automatically shut down.

Next, you’ll need to inspect the line. It’s likely you’ll see ice at the end of the line or into the drain. Use a flashlight to look for ice or snow.

To prevent a condensate line from freezing, you can:

– Keep the line clean.
– Insulate the line DIY style.
– Place ice thaw underneath the drainpipe line.
– Have a cooling and heating specialist set up insulation.

Keep the Line Clean and Clear

Anything clogging or blocking the line and drain will make it more likely to freeze. A small amount of ice in the line isn’t great, but it’s unlikely to cause a total blockage and a total system shutdown. Lint, dirt, mud, grass or leaves can stop up the line, slow drainage and create a big problem out of a relatively little snow or ice. This can also cause a pool of water just outside the drain, and if it freezes, there’s nowhere for more condensation to go.

Cleaning the line prior to winter hitting is a good idea. Some proven, effective cleaners are vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or dishwashing detergent. Once you’ve cleaned it, test it by running water through the line.

Insulate the Line DIY Style

Once you make sure your condensate line is clear, you can take additional steps to guarantee your condensate line does not ice up. One of these is protecting the drainpipe.
This can be finished with weatherproof insulation material. It’s sold in a roll and can be put on easily. You tape the end of the strip to the pipe. After that start to cover the strip around the pipe, overlapping each layer.
When you’ve covered the pipe, use air duct tape to secure the other end of the strip to the pipe. If needed, you can include more tape to keep the insulation in place.

Use Ice Melt

Ice melt is a substance which works by lowering the freezing temperature of the water. It can help keep your condensate line from freezing.
By coating the underside of the condensate line with ice melt before freezing temperatures hit, you can prevent the condensate which travels through from reaching a freezing point inside the pipe.
This is an extremely easy remedy, but it’s also the most temporary and undependable. The ice melt can get washed away and probably needs to be regularly applied to work.

Insulation Done By a HVAC Professional

The most permanent of remedies is contacting an HVAC professional to either install insulation material inside the furnace drain line or install an entirely new, pre-insulated line to the system. This is the most expensive of the options, but it will provide you with the most peace of mind as cold weather sets in.

 


At South End Heating & Air we specialize in furnace repair, call us for a free consult. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help with your heating needs. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? give us a call 704-684-5339