I never knew about condensate pumps

This is certainly ironic. During the weekend of the freakish late October nor’easter that a whole lotta snow on the Northeast, we were lucky to not be affected by the storm itself. We know many friends and family that lost power and heat for days.

Now for the ironic portion of our sordid tale — we lost heat for the weekend, but for entirely different reasons. On Saturday evening, I went downstairs to the basement to get the laundry. Imagine my surprise to find water surrounding the furnace. I screamed, “Leak! Leak! We got a leak!”  The two thoughts racing through my mind were:

  1. I’ve got to contain this water before it does serious damage.
  2. Where the hell is the water coming from?

I noticed that water was slowly coming out of this small device/portion of the furnace, which is apparently a pump that collects excess condensated water and pumps it out to the sewage line or down a big drain in your floor. I quickly shut off the furnace, and then unplugged the pump. I didn’t even know there was a pump there, even after six years. You know, as a homeowner, people don’t have clue how a house works. I certainly didn’t know.

For those of you who, like me, were/are totally ignorant of a condensate pump, let me educate you. According to Wikipedia.

A condensate pump is a specific type of pump used to pump the condensate (water) produced in an HVAC (heating or cooling), refrigeration, condensing boiler furnace or steam system. They may be used to pump the condensate produced from latent water vapor in any of the following gas mixtures:

  • Conditioned (cooled or heated) building air
  • Refrigerated air in cooling and freezing systems
  • Steam in heat exchangers and radiators
  • The exhaust stream of very-high-efficiency furnaces

Condensate recovery systems help you reduce three tangible costs of producing steam:

  • Fuel/energy costs
  • Boiler water make-up and sewage treatment
  • Boiler water chemical treatment

Who knew? I surely didn’t. After much research, I cleaning out the collection tank of a lot of brown sludge, and hooked it back up. I thought we were all fine and dandy until the next day Sunday afternoon when I found more water all over the basement floor. I shut off the furnace again, and I realized that maybe this pump has burned out. I checked out reviews of condensate pumps @ both Home Depot and Lowe’s online, but the reviews were terrible at best. The best brand was called “Little Giant”, and Amazon.com had various models at half the price of the ones available at the brick-and-mortar stores.

The one wrinkle? Even with one-day shipping, it wouldn’t be here until Tuesday, and we would most likely have to live with no heat until then. We agreed to deal with it. Once the pump got here earlier today, it didn’t take me long to read the instructions, test it out, drill a new hole in the HVAC unit to hang this slightly wider pump. It’s been a few hours, and the new pump is working well. I may need to call a HVAC guy to come in and double-check the furnace. I think it’s an awfully large amount of water pouring into the pump at times. For now, we have heat, and no water on the floor.

Check out the pics below. On the left is the old pump with the buckets to catch the water, which I pour out in the sink as the bucket fills up. On the right is the new pump working quietly and efficiently. BTW, let me say again, I’m very glad that I have a cordless drill. It’s during times like this that I’m proud to have the right tools in my closet.


Broken pump, and our backup buckets


New pump with a scootch more horsepower

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