The Hidden Dangers and Costs of Using Gravity Over Pumps
Leaky units, moldy walls, and dangerous, clogged pipe runs leaking condensate water over electrical outlets. With demand for air conditioning hitting 6.77 million units in Latin America in 2017, incorrect sizing of air conditioning units is no joke. Americans use 6 percent of all electricity produced in cooling their buildings, and the cost of running central air conditioning can easily come to thousands of dollars a year. Incorrect assessment of buildings' cooling requirements often results in wrong unit sizing and unnecessary costs for the client by paying for a system that is over/under specified.
The environment also plays a factor in the type of air conditioning that is specified — whether a whole building approach is needed or cooling and heating is needed on a room by room basis. With more people in arid climates moving to wall mounted units for better efficiency and cost control, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that the right type of unit is specified, and also that installation methods used are in line with the type of unit installed, ultimately saving money and time.
The belief that individual units within rooms are harder to maintain over central air conditioning units, is a myth. Using a condensate removal pump that can service multiple rooms at the same time, such as the Hi-Flow MAX from Aspen Pumps that has multiple inlets, removes the need for multiple condensate pumps on individual units — ergo managing costs effectively.
However, wall mounted units can create issues if not installed correctly. Evacuating the excess condensate water from the unit has traditionally been done by gravity drain systems. The method of draining the excess condensate water away from the unit by means of connected pipework is seen the world over. This pipework is normally drained away to an outside wall whereby the water runs down the exterior of the building before pooling on the floor.
Poorly maintained units and blocked pipe runs produce a foul smell when the condensate water inside stagnates. Leaking pipework from a bad installation can cause mold build up, which in turn can cause a variety of health problems. The possibility of an mold outbreak causing respiratory distress and potential law suits has raised awareness of good indoor air quality (IAQ) in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), IAQ can create fatigue, headaches, and tiredness and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
As well as the obvious health risks, gravity drain systems will only work if there is sufficient space for the pipe fall. Even if there is sufficient fall on the pipe run, a unit using a gravity drain system needs to be placed on an exterior wall — giving little or no room for flexibility of installation.
Correct installation practices of a wall mounted unit will save domestic and commercial property owners money and potential distress in the long run. By fitting a condensate pump, there is no need for complicated pipe runs which could inevitably leak and cost thousands of dollars worth of damage. A condensate pump will move the condensate water generated by the unit up and away to a water tank or exterior pipe, plus the unit can be fitted anywhere in the room – there is no need for complicated pipe runs resulting in the unit needing to be fitted to an exterior wall.
Pumps such as the mini orange from Aspen Pumps can be fitted above the unit — meaning ultimate installation flexibility. The mini orange can pump the water up to 10 meters head and is as quiet as 21DbA — ideal for installation in commercial or domestic settings. Condensate pumps will remove the condensate water whether they are installed in a flat on the 30th floor of a building, or installed in the basement of an office block.
"We see poor design and installation practices all the time," said Stuart Newbury, product manager, Aspen Pumps. "Using a pump ultimately not only saves the installer time and money on unnecessary pipe runs, but will also save on potential repair bills when the pipe system fails and leaks or blocks through stagnating water."
Without the need for complicated pipe runs, stagnant water cannot collect inside pipe runs and water will not drain to an outside wall creating a pool of stagnant and potentially dangerous pool on the floor.
With slips, trips, and fall injuries costing employers approximately $40,000 per incident and as reported by the National Safety council, ‘falls from the same level’ costing $7.94 billion in one year, correct fitment of an air conditioning unit using a condensate pump is paramount.
Using condensate removal pumps to reliably remove condensate water, ultimately avoids issues created by gravity drain systems… proving that sometimes traditional methods are not always the best.
Publication date: 10/8/2018