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Phil
Phil, Mechanical Engineer
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 5487
Experience:  Retired HVAC/ Electrical & Boiler contractor. Industrial
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I have a lennox C33-36B-2F-4 furnace and it is leaking water

Customer Question

I have a lennox C33-36B-2F-4 furnace and it is leaking water which appears to be coming from the blower motor. When I take off the black cap labeled drain on the right side of the furnace (exhaust vent side) water comes out. If I let it all drain out then recap the drain, it stops leaking from the blower motor, but it will be leaking again soon if I let it sit for a while.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: HVAC
Expert:  Phil replied 2 years ago.

Phil :

All work to be done by licensed professional. WE KEEP GOING UNTIL YOU ARE HAPPY . . . I come and go, be patient.

Customer :

ok

Phil :

is this the furnace you have? are you operating in heating or cooling mode?

Phil :

http://imgs.ebuild.com/xCat/ebuildWebB/15?ObjectID=19645&Variant=Original

Phil :

we can go from there

Customer :

no thats not my furnace, cooling mode

Customer :

I have model number: C33-36B-2F-4

Customer :

That pdf appeared to be for some G model

Customer :

plus it crashed my browser

Customer :

sooooo......

Phil :

Hello again

Phil :

In cooling mode water leaks are always with no exceptions from the cooling coil drain pan sitting on top of the furnace

Phil :

they clog with slime and mold.

Customer :

yeah I figured that

Phil :

its $250 or so have it cleaned

Customer :

awesome

Phil :

Let me know if you want to clean it yourself.

Customer :

nothing I can do then?

Customer :

I would love to

Phil :

Find there the white plastic drain line attaches above the furnace. the 2 copper tubes for cooling attach just above it.

Phil :

thats the cooling coil cabinet

Phil :

remove the insulation.

Phil :

remove the 14 screws that hold the 20 x 20" cover in place

Phil :

remove the cover

Phil :

observe the drain pan, and drain... clean it up

Phil :

pour a few cups of warm water down the drain to blow any debris out of the trap

Customer :

Sounds like this would require some insulation/heat tape to fix what I am undoing

Phil :

Yes, a bit of duct insulation wrap and duct tape you can by at a big box home repair type store... or just the duct tape to put the existing insulation back on

Customer :

ok

Customer :

if that trap is clogged then how is water getting down to the black box on the right side of the furnace under the exhaust vents (the hole labeled drain with a rubber cap on it)

Customer :

seems like if it got that far, then it would just drain through the pipe that runs into the concrete slab

Phil :

Hello again... that is a very good question... the exhaust vent with the rubber cap only has water in it when the furnace is in heating mode. Since the furnace is in cooling mode the only way water can get into the exhaust vent is by leaking into the burner box or through the power vent fan etc...

Customer :

which you are suggesting is happening because of the trap being clogged?

Phil :

those are sealed components. water from above should have no pathway to the inside of the vent as you are reporting except though a cracked heat exchanger or some such.

Phil :

and that is a dangerous situation, carbon monoxide leaking is an issue and that needs to be tested by a licensed and qualified Lennox furnace specialist.

Customer :

I'm not running the furnace though

Phil :

the clogged trap, allowed the evaporator coil drain pan to over flow

Phil :

onto the furnace heat exchanger. and other furnace parts

Phil :

You are running the cooling only of course, but that drain pan leaks onto the furnace heating element, heat exchanger

Phil :

that is apparently cracked, or with some other defect... allowing water inside

Phil :

and into the vent trap

Phil :

This definitely needs an onsite inspection.. odds are in the 70% range that a dangerous condition exists that can put carbon monoxide into the home'

Customer :

ok phil

Customer :

I opened the cabinet

Customer :

tray looks pretty clean

Customer :

I poured water into the tray, it drains as expected

Customer :

Coils look very clean no slime or build up

Customer :

drain pipe is not clogged

Customer :

thoughts?

Phil :

Inside the A coil, is the inlet face of the coil, it collects dirt and hair etc over time and can create a water drip bridge around the drain pan, so that water drips past the drain pan onot the top of the furnace heat exchanger.

Phil :

to access that area. remove a 6" square panel that is screwed into place where the cross bar is on a capitol A.

Customer :

update: I removed the black cap from the drain box

Phil :

use a flash light you will see the inlet side of the coil. and can clean it using a coil cleaning kit, that includes a 'green fin comb'... big hardware stores carry the kit

Customer :

I poured water in the drip tray

Customer :

the water flowed right back out of the drain box

Customer :

sounds to me like the drain pipe that runs into my concrete slab might be blocked up near where it enters the slab

Phil :

I cant see it from here of course, but it sounds like the 'drain box' is actually a box with a pump in it. that pumps the condensate from the boiler and the condensate from the cooling coil outside.

Customer :

is there any way i can upload a pic

Phil :

yes

Phil :

You should see upload instructions on the dialog box you are in

Customer :

Full Size Image

Customer :

the black box i shown here

Customer :

in this pic the plastic cap is on

Customer :

you can also see how the drain pipe turns before entering the slab

Customer :

the clear u trap is also clean

Customer :

see what i mean?

Phil :

Thanks, great pic

Phil :

Thats a totally unusual condensate trap arrangement... its functional though.

Customer :

See what i mean about the drain pipe and the slab

Customer :

I think the clog is there at the bend before the floor

Customer :

logically if I pour water in the tray, and the clog is at the bend near the floor, then the water would back up into the black box

Phil :

I have absolutely no idea what the black box is. .. and the condensate going into a hole in the slab is not legal, it could be a problem for your foundation/ slab if the soil under the slab doesnt drain well

Customer :

not legal in a specific state or nationally?

Customer :

I ask because I had a home inspector look at this house before I bought it

Phil :

you can but a 3/4" pvc 'repair coupling' cut the pipe, clean the clog and then fit the coupling

Phil :

if the soil doesnt drain well you could have water backed up as a result of that as well

Customer :

so what i was saying probably makes more sense to you now

Customer :

because of the picture

Phil :

Its not legal according to the US building codes, some rural unincorporated areas do not have code enforcement. Some inspectors could miss that as well

Phil :

Yes the picture helps, but I have no idea what the black box is

Phil :

it would not need to have a pump in it, I dont see a pump either, and I cant see what function the black box might have from here

Customer :

there are two rubber tubes that come away from the area

Customer :

near the blower motor

Customer :

that run into the black box

Customer :

not shown in the picture

Phil :

can you access the inside of the box and tell me what you see... the entire job is quite unusual. the condensate trap and the pipe into the slab. that black box makes no sense either

Customer :

the box appears to be one unit, no hardware to remove to see the inside

Phil :

we are looking at a home built system by someone who has done that type of work before and just dreamed it up,

Customer :

let me grab another picture quick

Customer :

home is less than 3 yrs old

Customer :

built by a building company

Customer :

its a townhouse

Phil :

its a loopy condensate design the drain into the slab is illegal

Phil :

but an easy fix. just run the condensate outside. if you can find a gravity flow route

Phil :

if not cut the pipe and put a condensate sump and pump assembly in

Phil :

then you can pump it to a drain/ it cannot be hard connected at the drain. there has to be an air gap.

Customer :

two more pics of rubber hoses running to black box

Customer :

Full Size Image

Customer :

Full Size Image

Customer :

you can see the black box at the right in the second pic

Customer :

blower motor is by my thumb

Phil :

rubber hoses probably go to the furnace condensate trap, its a high efficiency condensing furnace. the black box is probably not necessary. the furnace condensate can be piped to any drain

Customer :

My floor has a drain in it

Customer :

white pvc drain cap with holes in it

Customer :

can it drain through there, dont know what else the drain is for

Customer :

floor slopes somewhat towards the drain

Phil :

If there is a floor drain there, the condensate pipe has to terminate one inch above the drain so that there is an air gap, that is to preclude sucking sewer gasses onto the ac system.

Customer :

ok

Phil :

System should work but it was not installed by anyone with training, these need to be properly set up, I recommend you call a Lennox dealer to do a service call on it..

Phil :

notice the pipe dope on the gas pipe union?

Customer :

unfortunately it was installed by a lennox dealer

Phil :

there is suppose to be none on the piece in the middle of the union

Customer :

no pipe dope on the middle of the union

Customer :

?

Phil :

pipe dope only goes on the pipe threads on each end.... not in the middle. that gets into the gas flow and can cause problems with your gas valve... its the sign of a person with no clue about the trade

Phil :

the picture showed what appeared to be pipe dope

Customer :

which pic? 1, 2, or 3

Phil :

2 I think

Customer :

yeah i see what you mean

Phil :

the black box came with that model furnace.

Customer :

I also think that there was no need to bend the drain pipe right before the floor other than the fact that the installer did not line it up correctly

Customer :

however, apparently is shouldnt be done that way at all

Phil :

its a bad install

Phil :

but easily fixed

Customer :

I can't easily run the drain pipe outside, but I could run it to the drain in the floor

Phil :

find out which lennox dealer installed it, and call a different one

Customer :

any idea why the black box came with the furnace?

Phil :

just to collect the condensate and equalize the pressure between the condensate trap and the condensing chamber, its not common with other condensing furnaces, Lennox is known for its unique approaches

Customer :

I looked at my home inspection report and the report merely says that the condensate line is installed

Customer :

here is the pic he took during the walkthrough

Customer :

you can see the drain in the floor

Customer :

Full Size Image

Customer :

Full Size Image

Customer :

you can see that the trap is different too

Phil :

gasp..... give me a moment to recover...

Customer :

somebody came when it was under warranty and fixed a freon leak, noticed that the trap couldn't be cleaned and installed one that could be cleaned

Customer :

what?

Phil :

the second photo lists the inspectors remarks... the term ludicrously incompetent comes to mind

Customer :

what makes you think that, obviously I wouldn't know

Phil :

the top photo seems to show a floor drain about 12 inches away from there the 3/4 plastic appears to be going into the floor... are you sure it goes into the floor? maybe its just sitting there

Phil :

tell me what business you are in and i will give you a parady

Phil :

parody'\

Customer :

I thought that too and I checked

Customer :

it definitely is concreted into the floor

Customer :

can't be moved at all

Phil :

its illegal

Customer :

I'm in electrical engineering

Phil :

ok here is a parody of a bogus electrical inspection

Phil :

" wires are red and some green, with a black one... be sure you check these once a year to be sure they are not faded, or that the wire is still in the metal casing tube."

Customer :

hahah, okay I see what you mean

Phil :

"once a year wipe off the wires with an oily rag to prevent rust"

Customer :

great

Customer :

I feel like a dumbass

Customer :

for hiring this guy

Phil :

The inspector advised oiling the electric motors with engine oil... wrong stuff.. you need electric motor oil or turbine oil

Phil :

etc

Phil :

you are not the man with the problem

Phil :

you have no way of knowing ahead of time

Customer :

true, but utimately I am left to deal with incompetence of these men

Phil :

you find these things out later

Phil :

its getting worse by the micro second

Phil :

brace yersef

Phil :

lucky for you this is all an easy fix

Customer :

what is the fix?

Phil :

but have a good lennox dealer to a proper start up on it

Customer :

just to run to that drain in the floor

Phil :

run the condensate to the drain, with a one inch air gap

Phil :

have a good lennox dealer fo a proper start up on it.. it takes special instruments

Phil :

flue gas analysis etc

Customer :

I don't want to have the lennox dealer do everything I just did, and end up with the same solution for $$$ reasons

Phil :

its important

Customer :

ok

Customer :

so its a safety thing

Phil :

yes

Phil :

you can do the condensate drain fix yourself

Customer :

yes, for sure

Phil :

to be doubly safe I would put a trap at the end of the condensate as well just before the drain

Customer :

to catch anything that might clog my floor drain?

Phil :

trap is so air cannot be sucked back into the system, and to prevent any combustion gasses from escaping past the black box. its over kill but I cant be sure the black box was installed correctly and do not want to take the chance... another reason for the Lennox dealer inspection

Phil :

You could wait until the lennox dealer arrives on the added trap.. I tend to be over cautious, and am probably being over cautious here.

Customer :

I'm going to schedule an appointment tomorrow morning and see when they can come out

Customer :

I have no way of knowing which dealer installed the unit

Phil :

good idea.

Customer :

I bought the house after it was built

Phil :

stay in touch as you need to, Phil

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