A while back, I had an issue with humidity in my basement, which lead to me getting a dehumidifier and running it 24x7x365. For a while that meant walking into the basement, grabbing a bucket, carrying it outside (or upstairs to a sink) to empty it.
After doing that for a couple of weeks, I invested in a condensate pump and some tubing. Quite handily, I had an old dryer vent in the basement that I had plugged with insulate. I simply ran the tubing through it, down the side of my house, and my dehumidifier could helpfully remove excess moisture, dump it into the condensate pump, which would periodically shoot it out through the tubing out to the back of my house to drain.
That worked nicely for about two years until last week. All of a sudden, the condensate pump couldn’t clear the water out, and would just run forever.
It’s been incredibly cold (which should have been the first clue, but I’m a bit dense), which means it’s not been humid, so while I investigated, I figured I could get away with just draining into a bucket for a little bit.
I could get a snake up into the tube without a problem, but when I ran water up, I could see that it was eventually getting blocked, though I couldn’t tell by what. My hypothesis was that it was&emdash;scientifically&emdash;“gunk” that had collected in the tube. I tried running a few things through (washer fluid, vinegar), but no go. I figured I’d have to wait until the spring to be able to remove the tube which was now under a couple of feet of snow and then either replace it or clean out the obstruction.
That is, of course, until our multi-week cold spell broke with three days of over 50 degrees. And, of course, the tube was no longer blocked.
The cold spell, probably combined with some “gunk”, had lead to the tube being blocked, and either ice or air trapped behind the ice prevented the condensate pump from clearing out the water. When the unseasonably warm weather melted all of our snow in three days, it also melted the obstruction. Things went back to normal.
Until last night, when the temperature dropped again and things froze again. At least now I know what is going on. With the snow melted, I should be able to find the obstruction, thaw it, clear it out, and get the pump running consistently.
There are certainly better solutions to this, like an actual drain in my basement, but this was a $40 solution that has lasted over 2 years, and if I’m a bit smarter, probably could last 5 more.