How to Fix Sweating Copper Pipes
What you will learn from this article:
1) one of our readers submitted the question, How to Fix Sweating Copper Pipes – and we will answer her question.
2) a description of the problem with the sweating copper pipe
3) the name of the copper pipe causing the problem and why it is sweating
4) the repair of the sweating copper pipe to stop it from sweating
5) what you need to know about sweating pipes and any moisture problem in your house
6) lots of resource and related links to help you learn
How to Fix Sweating Copper Pipes – Richard, we have an air handler in a finished attic closet. We use the attic for our home office and TV room. I noticed the last time I went in the closet the copper pipes that go into the air handler were sweating and dripping on the floor. It is a wooden floor but I think if this continues it will eventually ruin the floor and possibly the ceiling down stairs. What can I do to fix this problem of sweating pipes? Does it mean there is a problem with our air conditioner? Will I have to call a my HVAC service guy to fix this or is it something I can fix myself? We have used your site for many years to answer questions about our HVAC system. Thanks and I look forward to your reply. Joanna K. Hibernia FL
Joanna, You are talking about the suction line that goes into the air handler. Somehow it lost its insulation and is sweating in the closet. The suction line typically operates below the dew point. When you have something that has a temperature less than the dew point temperature then it will sweat. The moisture in the air is condensing. Changing from a vapor to a liquid. A very good example of this is a glass of ice water sitting on the table. The temperature of the glass is so cold it is below the dew point temperature. The glass sweats and leaves a wet spot on the table. Thankfully someone invented coasters to protect wood from cold drinks. Now we need to invent a coaster for that sweaty copper pipe you have there. LOL.
Related Link: Another problem with an air conditioner and a leak (opens in a new window)
Anyhow Joanna, this is something you can fix yourself very easily. Find your local hardware store and ask them for Rubatex pipe insulation. It a black foam insulation. It is better if you get the kind with a split on the side and on the side of the split is a type of adhesive with a protective plastic strip on it. You will trim the length of Rubatex you will need to cover the bare copper pipe and then peel the protective plastic off of the adhesive strip after placing the insulation over the pipe. Line the split up and make sure the adhesive glues the Rubatex split together. You want to create a vapor barrier to keep the humidity out and away from the pipe. That should fix your problem of the sweaty copper pipe.
Related Link: An Air Conditioner caused severe water damage (opens in a new window)
It is important for you to know a few things about this repair to your air conditioner lines:
- If the pipe has been leaking long enough then it is possible that some of the moisture dripped down the pipe and went into the chase where the pipe runs. Sometimes, especially in new construction, the installer will use the void in the wall as his chase to run the pipes to the condenser. If that moisture got inside the walls it is possible it created a problem with mold and mildew. Mold and mildew loves dark, moist areas.
- It is important that you only insulate the suction and not the liquid line. The suction line is the bigger of the two pipes that run to your condensing unit. Even the part of the suction line that runs in the chase should be insulated with Rubatex and have a good vapor barrier quality of insulation on it otherwise you get the problem described above in number one. Never insulate the smaller pipe. It should never sweat. If it does sweat it would defy physics.
If you suspect mold or mildew in your walls then you will have to probably call a professional to look into it. Most HVAC companies in Florida are well aware of these problems as the humidity in Florida is something they have to deal with sometimes. At least the problems that come with high humidity and removing it from a conditioned space.
Related Link: Indoor Air Quality in your home or business (opens in a new window)
How to Fix Sweating Copper Pipes | HVAC Cooling Repair – Conclusion
There are companies that specialize in water damage and sometimes that includes dealing with the mold and mildew inside closed spaces. I know these companies use a special spray that kills the mold and mildew and prevents it from coming back anytime soon. I know that some molds and mildews are not good for health especially not breathing it everyday. I know there are some people with severe allergies to mold and mildew so make sure you protect yourself. In this case of the sweating pipe it is easily fixed. Or at least I hope it is easily fixed. Good Luck Joanna!!! I hope this helps!!
What Does Wikipedia say about Mold and Mildew Problems?