Kenneth Conley has been an HVACR service technician for more than 20 years. He got bit by the HVACR bug early and excelled when he attended his local trade school.
“It was 1995 when the EPA was revamping its refrigeration regulations and doing away with R-12,” Conley said. “I was extremely committed when I was at the trade school. In fact, I would say I was over the top in my determination to reach the highest score possible.”
Conley did just that and achieved a 99 percent on the universal EPA certification. In fact, the one question he got wrong, which he maintains was a trick question, still bugs him some 20 years later.
Over these 20 years as a technician, Conley worked for a few companies, covering nearly every aspect of the business, including residential, commercial, industrial, and refrigeration. He is currently working at Performance Heating and Air in Kalispell, Montana. It was there that he decided to invent a better mousetrap… or condensate trap, as it were.
“A few things in our industry bug me but the condensate system has bugged me the most,” Conley said. “I always thought the way the industry did things as far as this goes was not great. Not just in appearance but functionality. Off and on, for years, I’ve been trying to figure out a better idea to make it happen. Specifically, I was hoping for something that you can get into to clean it without tearing the whole thing apart.”
Conley said when he gets out in the field, he sees a lot of dysfunctional applications. In fact, he believes most of the time condensate traps are put in incorrectly.
“They put vents where they don’t need them and often put them on the wrong side of the trap,” Conley said.
FINALLY HAD ENOUGH
In April 2015, the technician spent most of the day working on a condensate problem in a very tight space. It was plugged up and flooding an upper-level floor and draining into the unit and onto the floor below.
“As ridiculous as it was, it ended up taking most of the day,” Conley said. “I was very frustrated.”
On his way home, Conley stopped by Home Depot to get some parts to fix a sink at home and was walking down the aisles of PVC fittings.
“I don’t know why, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. I envisioned a means of doing this. I fumbled around with the parts and thought I may have something here. I realized there were modifications that needed to be done. I started working on it and developing it,” Conley said.
The finished product is the C-trap. The C-trap is specifically designed to work in conjunction with HVACR equipment that produces condensation in its normal operation. It is designed to collect and retain a given amount of condensation (that is continuously produced by the equipment) in order to break a vacuum-like effect also produced by blowers generally contained in said equipment, thus allowing the accumulated condensate to continue draining from the equipment, through the C-trap, and then pipe it off to a nearby drain or runoff.
After building the prototype and testing it out, Conley applied for a patent, which is still pending. He then started talking to some supply houses that were interested in the product. He is also selling it on his website, www.c-trap.com.
“For me, yes, I am pursuing it for profits, but it is more than that for me. It’s something I am excited and passionate about. I would like to see it become an industry standard because I see it as a better practice,” Conley said. “It’s important to me to try and do everything I can to get it widely known. People get very conditioned in normal practices and it gets so repetitive that they don’t think out of the box. There is that little threshold I am trying to break through and I’m hoping this connects the dots in people’s minds. Sometimes they’re doing things out of habit, but perhaps there’s a better way.”
Publication date: 2/20/2017