Last night, my heat (forced air) suddenly stopped. Today, a plumber figured out that my heater is 90% efficient, produces lots of condensate, and the drain line had frozen. We went outside and saw the drain line was about 2 feet long of 2" PVC, mounted vertically about 6 inches off the ground. He sawed off the bottom 9 inches which had frozen, the water trickled out, and the heater started working again.
Problem solved for today... but it may freeze again, soon. So the question is: How to fix it?
The plumber recommended rerouting the drain to use the sewer vent, despite it being against code. But I don't want to do that. To me, it would make more sense to insulate, heat, shorten, or widen the drain pipe so that it doesn't freeze. It's only a trickle of water.
I'm a beginner here. Here are my ideas. What do you think of them?
- Shorten the pipe outside, so that there's less area exposed
- Widen the pipe at the end - if the ice starts at the end, from the drip, expanding it to 4" might work
- Insulate or heat the pipe using heat tape or something like that (which I don't know anything about)
- Something else?
- Do I need to do anything to the part of the drain that's inside? The system is is my (unconditioned, tiny) attic
- Is there a way to run the system in emergency mode, so that we're not all shivering, until we fix it? I read about this online but don't know how to do it
- I live in Central New Jersey. The winter can get its cold spell, but nothing beyond that.
- We ended up cutting off the entire run of the outside pipe. Now there's only a spout facing directly down. The spout is about 3 feet off the ground.
- Do I have to worry about the water damaging things? The water trickles down my siding now. It's near an external AC unit and a window well for the basement window, but it doesn't hit either one of those. If I make it a bit longer, it will come closer to those, unless I make it much longer
- Someone told me that the condensate isn't regular water, but is corrosive. Is that true?
- I have an in-house humidifier. I shut it off for now, because I thought it would make the condensate worse. Is that true? Can I turn it back on?
Finally I'm really a real beginner at DIY. If I should a section of (wide?) pipe (with insulation) to it, can you recommend specific products and give me links?