Here's a new one: water heater condensate line clogged

This was a first for me. We’ve talked on here a few times about hybrid heat pump water heaters. I installed one back in 2017 or so. Well, it had it’s first issue this past week. The condensate drain line clogged! I’m somewhat used to this, as this is a very normal problem for HVAC in a humid climate.

In this case, I was alerted by a faint electronic beep in the garage. The unit has a small electronic screen/display so I was able to pull up the status and see that it was reporting a clogged condensate drain. Clicking “more info” informed me that due to the clog, it was automatically turning off the heat pump (stop producing condensate) and revert to using resistive elements so we would not run out of hot water. Really well thought out!

The line to outside was unobstructed, so that meant the clog was a buildup in the condensate drain pan. I removed the drain hose and elbow, and sucked out the pan using my shopvac and a small piece of flexible tubing. Water poured out! Put it all back together and it’s working great. Total time to fix, less than 15 minutes. :+1:


Jeff I have considered a hybrid water heater. We live in North GA. My concerns are what happens in the winter. Would you mind sharing your geographical location, size of water heater and experience?

Hi @jeffbrig,

I stopped reading in horror right there!

I’m glad I continued on …

All holdings and some statistics on my Fool profile page (Click Expand)

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I have had a hybrid water heater here in Knoxville for 3 years. I have had zero problems with it. When running it emits a lot of cold air which is great in the summertime, but not so great in winter. (Think of the flow of a hair dryer, except chilled air.) Small potatoes in the scheme of a house, but it was the most surprising thing to me.

Yes, it has a moisture sensor coil which lies on the floor, and it has alerted me once, but because the drain line on the HVAC it lives next door toi was clogged and was spilling.

(Just saw the request for size, will edit in later.)

Goofy thanks for the reply. We are about 300 feet higher in elevation vs Knoxville - Gainesville, GA is home. So I expect our ambient temperatures are pretty similar.

It is the winter that I was concerned about. The cubby slot for our electric water heater about 30 inches wide. If I replumbed some control valves and outdoor faucet shut offs, I could get 36. The current all electric tank is 50 gallons. We have never had any hot water capacity issues. But this month we use the Moen Temperature-Pressure adjusting valve at 70% hot water. Our hot water is 130 to 135F. Water input temperature at water works is 48F today.

What is your tank water temperature? Is your water source something like the Tennessee River or ground water?

It’s a Rheem “Performance Platinum”;, 50 gallon. We have municipal water from KUB, it comes out of the pipe around 50-55° depending on the season, I heat it to 130. We have had as many as 5 people in the house during visits without complaints or mentions of water running out, but I got a temp mixing valve so I can turn it up to 135 or more and then mix it down at the valve before it is distributed. We can have as many as 7 here comfortably, and this was a trivial, and possibly unnecessary change. (Pex and shark bites).

I cannot give any reliable estimate on electric consumption because I sometimes use solar to pre-heat the water in a 25gal before it hits the big tank. And sometimes don’t. It’s a plaything.

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Are you happy with Rheem? I have a heat pump hot water heater brand that was discontinued* nearly a decade ago, and it is having issues so I will need to replace it soon. The problem is that they are so ridiculously expensive - I am replacing an 80 gal unit and they are ~$2500 … way way overpriced for what they are. Supply and demand I suppose.

* It’s called AirTap or AirGenerate, and was excellent when new.

I’m in south FL. Mine is an 80 gal tank. I keep it set to 135 degrees, and we never run out of hot water. I think the hybrid heater is a fantastic idea. It uses 1/3 the electricity of a basic resistive heater (we don’t have gas here). My power bill dropped $25/month when I installed it, so the cost of the heat pump easily pays for itself over time.

The cool dry air it dumps in the garage keeps the garage lightly climate controlled most days of the year. It rarely gets cold here. When it does, I joke that it increases the efficiency of my Porsche. I drive it, park it in the garage, and the heat given off by the engine is reclaimed and heat-pumped into my water heater. I’m saving the planet one drive at a time! :rofl:

At worst, in winter you may find the heap pump is ineffective in a cold space. My Rheem has modes that allow it to use the resistive element as needed to supplement. I’m able to run mine in energy saver mode - 100% heat pump - year round. But I doubt my garage has ever been <60 F ambient.