three way manifold

three way manifold
Gauges used for testing refrigerant pressures.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Condensate Drainage and Hot Spots

     Today, I got a call from a person who wants a new unit.  This man advised me that he's had some work done on his AC in the past, and that up until recently, his home was on the market.  He actually had a buyer turn down the home because of the AC system in it.  So I headed to Pleasanton, TX to check out this man's unit, and see what we could do to make his unit more user friendly.      
     When I showed up, we took a look at his old unit and I immediately noticed two return air grills, but only one air filter.  That is asking for problems if you know anything about the necessity of air filtration for an air conditioning unit.  You see, all air that is being pulled back into the air conditioning unit needs to be filtered.  The reason for this is simple.  Air has all kinds of particles floating around in it, and you don't want those particles moving into your AC system and attaching themselves to your evaporator coil, which is always wet from condensation.  This causes what amounts to mud on your unit.  This mud will accumulate until  your evaporator coil is coated and air can't flow through it to be cooled anymore.  When a unit gets this bad, you need to have it cleaned thoroughly.  A thorough cleaning can amount to over $500 once mold starts growing in your unit and must be cleaned also.  So the gentleman and I discussed some better ways to install filters for the unit.
     His current unit is in a centrally located closet.  We were able to discuss options for where to put the unit also.  He mentioned that he would be happier if we could just put it in the attic.  After we took a look at the attic, I decided that was an option as well.  While I was in the attic though, I think I saw what his problem was with the hot spots in his house.  The duct work in his attic was below par.  It wasn't up to standard to cool the home efficiently.  So we talked about it, and he was up to having it redone in a far more efficient manner than what currently exists.
     When making duct work for a home, an HVAC tech or contractor needs to have substantial knowledge of airflow, air pressure and back pressure . . . general pneumatics in other words.  There are certain ways to build duct work so that it actually disperses air exactly where you need it to go without losing too much of the original cubic feet per minute of air (or cfm's) coming from the unit.  Ducts need to be of a certain size to carry a certain amount of air at a certain speed to different parts of a home.  There can't be too many bends or turns in the duct work either, as each bend or turn decreases the cfm's in that particular duct run.
     Another problem he mentioned was that his condensation drain wasn't working properly.  He claimed that he had leaks on a few occasions prior to me coming.  The former owner of the home had poured a slab in the backyard so they could have a house length back porch.  That's all great, but they covered up the original air conditioning condensation drains which came out the back of the house and drained on the ground.   This left the air conditioner with nowhere to drain condensation.  So, an alternate condensation drain had to be set up with a condensate pump which pumped the water up to the attic from a closet where the unit was, then to an outside drain.  This method is inefficient and unnecessary, when a perfectly viable option could be to run a drain through the wall behind the unit and out the front wall of the house.  With the system in the attic though, we are able to run the condensate drains anywhere we want.  They can come out on the front porch, or on the side of the house, or anywhere we want to put them.  We can even tie one into the household plumbing if we want to.
     Anyways, I have the install coming up, and I wanted to share some of the things we talked about while he made his decision.  If you need a new unit, or something is wrong with your central air system, please call All Seasons Comfort in San Antonio, TX.  We'll go almost anywhere in Texas for an installation, but we're happy to give advice if you feel you aren't being treated well by your local HVAC company.  Our contact information is on our website at

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