Thursday, January 30, 2014

Attention Owners of 90% Plus Condensing Furnaces

This message is geared to our folks that own 90% plus condensing furnaces. Several of you have been experiencing furnace failure during these unusual extreme cold weather days for our area. What is happening is the condensate drain line for these types of condensing furnaces are freezing which does not allow the condensate water from the furnace to drain outside. Once the water freezes inside the pipe, it cannot drain and therefore shuts down the furnace. Nothing can be done until the pipe thaws out and the condensate water can drain. This is unusual in our region end and why you haven’t experienced this in years before.

One solution to this issue is to wrap a special “heat tape” that is not more than 5 or 6 watts per foot, with an attached thermostat to regulate when the heat tape is energized. This tape can be purchased at Lowes, Ace Hardware and some Taylor Do It Centers, and some plumbing stores in our area. Grainger’s in Norfolk and also Amazon online carry it. Be sure it is tape, not cable, and puts out no more than 5 or 6 watts per foot.

Even with the heat tape on the pipe; any pipe that is outside or on the north wall will still freeze and not allow the condensate to drain. If you have a short drain pipe that can go directly outside the house at a slight downward slope and is only about 6-15 feet long, the heat tape will work. If your furnace drain pipe is longer and goes down a wall, you may still have an issue. Using a heat gun is only temporary as well and even then, the pipe that is inaccessible will still freeze.

Another solution may be to add more insulation to the furnace drain pipe. This may help slow down the process of freezing.

We tried to find this tape last weekend and our whole region was sold out and won’t be back in stock until “maybe Tuesday or Wednesday”. Our local equipment supplier does not even stock this tape because of the extremely low demand. (Until now!)

Looking at our local forecast, it appears after this week, our weather may return to “normal” which means no more freezing condensate pipes hopefully. We understand your frustration and apologize for your comfort issues, but please understand as well; it is out of our control.

We can come out to your house, for a fee and try to help you temporarily, but Mother Nature has to help.

Thank you for choosing All Seasons Heating and Cooling for your home comfort needs.