Condensate Pump

A condensate pump is a small item, about the size of a shoe-box.  It does, however, have in important job.

But first, a little background.  Today’s high-efficiency furnaces produce an exhaust stream with a higher than average water content.  As it cools it forms condensate, which is a fancy word for water.  This water is usually pumped out of the mechanical room with a simple condensate pump.  A neat little system – when everything works as it should.

Mechanical rooms without floor drains are unfortunately all too common.  And when a condensate pump fails, as they do, the water produced by the furnace simply floods the room.  Although the amount of water left on the floor from a failed pump is usually small, sometimes it doesn’t take much to cause damage.  We met one of our customers after she had flooded twice.

Condensate pumps typically fail for one of two reasons.  Either they stop working as in this case from mechanical breakdown, or the outlet tube becomes plugged.  They tend to be the weak link in the high-efficiency furnace system unless the fail-safes that are built into the system are used.

When your insurance company tells you they won’t cover another flood it’s time to look for a different approach and that’s just what this homeowner did when she decided to phone R&B.

The answer as affected by our popular technician Malcolm, was elegantly simple.  His solution was to wire the furnace through the condensate pump.  Wired this way, when the condensate pump is working, the furnace is working. No furnace, no condensate, no flood, no pain.

As much as we’d like to lay claim to this brilliant solution, it is actually a feature of the pump they had.   This is how it works.  As the water level raises, it triggers the pump to active.  This is the first stage.  If the water continues to accumulate  – from a pump failure or blocked outlet tube – it will trigger the second stage where heating equipment is turned off.  This stage can also be connected to an alarm to alert the homeowner of an issue before they notice that they are cold.

Our technician noticed that this feature of the condensate had not been put to use prior to our visit.  It took just under five minutes for him to wire the furnace to this pump feature and it was still within the time of our regular annual furnace service.

What is the moral of this story?  Industry experience and product knowledge do make a difference.  This year when we are in your home servicing your heating equipment, please ask us to check the wring of your condensate pump to ensure all safety features are taken advantage of.

If the pump fails and turns off your heat, yes that is inconvenient.  However if it fails and does not turn off your heat, that can be a way bigger mess and expense.  Remember, R&B has 24-hour emergency service.  Ask us to check your condensate pump wiring when you are booking your Fortis BC recommended annual furnace service.