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  1. #1
    Steve Meyer's Avatar
    Steve Meyer Guest

    Default Secondary drain pan - Texas

    Howdy fellow inspectors -

    This is my first post in this forum. I live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area, GO COWBOYS.

    My question is on the secondary drain pan for the a/c, Evap unit is located in the attic.

    I have a customer who is complaining that she had to get their unit serviced 4 weeks after the inspection because it was not cooling.

    Question - When there is some rust in the secondary drain pan & the pan is bone dry in July, is this an automatic reply, seek further evaluation from a licensed a/c company? Everything else on the unit checked out on the day of inspection.

    Rust in a bone dry drain pan tells me that there was a past issue. Now if there is rust with water in it tells me that there is a current condition.

    Thanks for any advise,
    STEVE

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  2. #2
    Steve Meyer's Avatar
    Steve Meyer Guest

    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    Testing post reply.


  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    Yes, it is an automatic "comment" but not a repair.
    It indicates a past occurrence and maybe a lack of maintenance but not much else.
    I try to take a picture of the temperature readings and save it as proof that it was working at the time of the inspection.
    I use a standard disclaimer that the inspection is not a warranty, blah, blah, blah... on every report. Part of managing the expectations of my clients.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  4. #4
    Steve Meyer's Avatar
    Steve Meyer Guest

    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    Thanks Jim -

    I tried to find something about secondary drain pan rust in the IRC but could not.
    If the unit ran fine & everuthing else checked out, I would not say anything about the rust. My unit has rust that is from clogged drain lines, pouring clorox down the lines would take care of this but it still left rust in it. Unit was not defective.

    I guess now I will have to report rust no matter what.

    Thanks again............STEVE


  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Atlanta, Georgia
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    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    Secondary Drain line.

    If there is rust in the pan, then that means the primary drain line is/was not working and the secondary drain line was used.

    If there is a float valve in the overflow pan, the water sits in the pan until the float valve rises and shuts off the system. If you are in a dry climate, the water may be evaporating in the pan at the same rate the water is going into the pan and the float valve never disconnects the system. Water sits in pan all cooling season leading to rust. Heating season starts, no more water entering pan, drys out and rust continues unchecked.

    Or the overflow pan has a drain. The drain is installed on the side of the pan so is not at the lowest point in the pan. Water sits in pan until it reaches the height of the drain line. Water flows out secondary drain line which hopefully exits over a frequently observed location like the master bedroom window. BUT that bedroom window faces West so in the afternoon they are at work and don't see the dripping. In the evening, it is dark outside and they don't see the dripping or they close the curtains so the neighbors don't look into their bedroom. In the morning, it has been cool all night so A/C did not run much and very little water dripping. Owner never sees dripping water, or never considers dripping water outside the house a problem. All this time, water is sitting in bottom of pan rusting.

    The issue is why is the secondary drain being used. Because the primary drain is not functioning. Something is broken. If something is broken, it needs to be in the report.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Meyer View Post
    Thanks Jim -

    I tried to find something about secondary drain pan rust in the IRC but could not.
    If the unit ran fine & everuthing else checked out, I would not say anything about the rust. My unit has rust that is from clogged drain lines, pouring clorox down the lines would take care of this but it still left rust in it. Unit was not defective.

    I guess now I will have to report rust no matter what.

    Thanks again............STEVE
    You won't find anything in the IRC about rust in a drain pan. Codes do not cover this.

    Low refrigerant and rust in the pan really have nothing to do with each other.

    Whenever you see rust in the secondary pan, this should be a RED flag. It is telling you that the unit had/has a problem. If the pan is dry and the A/C is on, chance are that the problem has been corrected. The pan should not have water in it, if it does you have a problem with the unit.

    Most of the time the rust it from the pan that is built into the unit. It is a good sign that that internal pan is rusting out and that it has either leaked or the condensation line has become clogged and then it has overflowed.

    I have attached a picture of a package unit that has a rusted out pan. This unit is only five years old.

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    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 11-28-2007 at 01:39 PM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  7. #7
    Richard Stanley's Avatar
    Richard Stanley Guest

    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    When I see rust in a secondary pan, I tell 'em that the pan has contained water and that the corrosion will continue and that, at some point, the pan will not hold water. Replacement of the pan is needed.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    I agree with Richard.

    If I see rust in the pan, I recommend that the pan be replaced. It may not have water in it today but it has in the past and it is a indicator that the primary or the secondary is not draining properly.

    We always take a picture and put it on the report. Rust does not mysteriously disappear but will continue eating away at that pan over time.

    Why not call it out? How much rust is acceptable to you?

    How about these I found today? Was just serviced last week supposedly.

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  9. #9
    imported_John Smith's Avatar
    imported_John Smith Guest

    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    IRC is for new construction. The pan is there for a reason. Apparently it did its job at some point in the past and the problem was corrected. I dont' think you were wrong for not writing it up. I dont recall anything in the TREC SOPs requiring you to report rust in the pan. If the pan had a hole in it or something, thats a different story. Could rust be considered "debris". It would have to be a substantial amount of exfoliating corrosion, and not just flash rust. I think the reference to "debris" in the SOPs is applicable to something clogging the drain line and allowing the pan to overflow.


  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    John,

    Rust could be a "debris" and block up the drain line thus causing the pan to overflow.

    The trouble with the TREC standards is the word they throw around in the terms called "Defiencies". It can just about haunt you in any situation.

    If you choose not to call out rust in pans thats your choice. Myself I call them out and recommend they be replaced. Never had one person call me and complain about it or have had one HVAC contractor not agree that it should be replaced when rusted.

    In the most instances as we most know, the realtor is going to tell the buyer lets just ask the seller for 200. and we'll replace the pan when we're ready. They actually never see the 200. because its all lost in the closing statement somewhere therefore the buyer never gets around to replacing the pan till the pan eventually rust completely through and all that water comes flooding down on top of the ceiling and onto that new plasma tv they just bought.

    Guess who the first person they'll go back on and try to blame for you not making a comment about the pan not needed to be replaced?

    Last edited by Rick Hurst; 11-29-2007 at 07:18 AM.

  11. #11
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
    Nolan Kienitz Guest

    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    Agreeing with Rick's post about noting the rust in the pans.

    I've also made note of them since I started for the same reasons Rick provided.

    Yes, it is beyond the TREC SOP ... there are a lot of thing many of us do that are well beyond the SOP.

    I've had some clients and agents ask me later about the comment and advise them of the 'potential' future problems. They (most all) have understood and agree that having the data for their risk consideration of the property is good.

    I keep reviewing and adjusting my report comments from input here at IN quite often. Like RR has mentioned in the past ... report what you see and report what you can't see.


  12. #12
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
    Richard Rushing Guest

    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    Well, if there is visible rust and you don't note it, you are just always opening yourself up to a future problem with the buyer/client.

    There is no requirement specifically addressing rust. However, where there is rust, there is usually always debris and oxidized water flaking/ insulation and crud build up caked into the oxidation. If so, then the TREC SOP *does* address that issue.

    (q) Cooling systems other than evaporative coolers. The inspector shall:

    (6) report as in need of repair a safety pan that is not appropriately sized for the evaporator coil or free of water or debris;

    In reality, there is very little distinction between a rusted drain pan creates debris (from the oxidation and other foriegn materials).

    Rich


  13. #13
    Brian Hoagland's Avatar
    Brian Hoagland Guest

    Default Re: Secondary drain pan - Texas

    Note the rust, it is our job to describe the conditions we observe. Unless this is some really deep loose rust and debris I would stop short of reccommending corrective actions. The airhandler we are discussing is in an attic as I read it. Normal proper operation in a location like this can and does result in condensation which is partially the reason the pan is code required. The rust could be due to that alone and not indicative of any type of failure. I'd have to see the extent to render any real opinion. Go with your gut. Just out of curiosity, how far did you go in checking the unit out? Did you take readings with a digital Hydrometer, or take an amperage draw reading on the compressor? what was the temperature of the high pressure line? Was it hot to the touch? We can't take pressures on these things but there are a few dead giveaways that joe H.O. is trying to pull the wool over your eyes and if you do all that I just suggested you make it harder for him to get over.

    Last edited by Brian Hoagland; 12-02-2007 at 12:52 PM.

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