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float switch


John Dirks Jr
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In an attic, you sometimes find float switches on the condensate tray for the air handler.

When you manually lift the switch, or, it gets activated by water filling in the tray, it will shut the unit down.

Once the float is back down, will systems automatically reset and allow the unit to run again? Will there be a delay before it will run again?

I want to make sure it's ok for me to lift the float to make sure it's not binding or whatever. I want to make sure that when I do this, I don't cause some glitch that has to be reset.

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I wouldn't recommend shutting the unit off via the float switch while the unit is running UNLESS you flip the service switch off IMMEDIATELY after the unit shuts down. (Assuming it does)

As I am sure you know, you shouldn't quickly restart a unit that was shut off in mid-cycle. Give it some time before flipping the service switch back on. Some higher end units have safety features built in to prevent a unit running with either with too high (or too low) pressure, but I would not assume that the unit you are testing does.

I suggest that if you want to test the float switch, you do it with the service switch off, using your multitester to check for continuity. Personally, I don't do that unless the switch is corroded/gunky looking, or there are other signs to suggest that it is not working.

As for whether the unit resets and would start again if the pan drains and the float switch arm drops...well, I don't know -- but I would assume that it would restart with a drop in water level. But that's a question for the more knowledgeable HVAC guys here.

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Properly configured (there's always a catch isn't there...) it should only shut down the air handler/blower and have no effect on the compressor. If they are present I will always test them to be sure they function as they should, just as I would make sure a secondary drain is correctly installed and problem free. I have found them several times no working properly and even not actually attached to anything.

Normally, it will shut down power to the air handler and restore power as soon as it is returned to the closed position.

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Originally posted by Kyle Kubs

Properly configured (there's always a catch isn't there...) it should only shut down the air handler/blower and have no effect on the compressor. If they are present I will always test them to be sure they function as they should, just as I would make sure a secondary drain is correctly installed and problem free. I have found them several times no working properly and even not actually attached to anything.

Normally, it will shut down power to the air handler and restore power as soon as it is returned to the closed position.

OK, as I said, I never check these things while the unit is running. But I can't see how it would make sense for the float switch to shut off power ONLY to the blower while leaving the outside unit running. Seems to me that would leave the system subject to a lot of damage if the condenser kept running and the evap coil didn't have warm air moving over it.

Or am I missing something?

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Naah. Go ahead and test the float switch. It's a personal decision.

It's not necessarily a bad idea, but it's not a good idea.

I've never tested a float switch. Never will. I check to see the wires are connected and go with God.

Probability of malfunction & resulting problem = very, very low.

Probability of something else in the house being horribly wrong that I'd better find or I'm screwed = very high.

I have to allocate my time smartly.

I might change my mind about this, but probably not......

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In So Fl almost all the houses have acs. I test every float switch period.

That's my job {I think every one turned back on. Some never turned off and that's a problem. }

I know this is going to sound harsh but some of you should not be a home inspectors if you are afraid of checking a float switch, a tprv, a garage door opener etc. because of liability.

I have NEVER been sued or received a letter because something I tested broke.(15 years) I test what I can to a logical standard.

Do you turn a faucet to see if water flows? Well, if you are in the profession long enough; a handle will break off or you can't shut the water off. If you test a GFIC sometimes it will not reset or blow up. I have had acs literally blow up when turned on, dishwashers that flooded the house, showers that took out ceilings, and one refrigerator that was electrified.

Come on guys do your job for your client. And if you are scared have the seller sign a release that you will not be liable if you use proper standards and care when testing.

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The son wrote

"It's not a question of being "afraid." It's a question of using professional judgment, a little science, basic logic and time management. Flipping a float switch or opening a years-old lime-encrusted T&P valve increases -- however slightly -- the chances of a screwup. Screwups cost time and money."

I respectfully disagree.

Flipping a float switch using my professional judgment, a little science, and basic logic. Is exactly what I am hired for.

As to time management, my time management is to do the job I was hired. I've spent too many hours too many times at a home inspection but that's my job.

In my humble but long experience, monkeying with a float switch -- or any seldom-used doohickey -- tells little or nothing about what the doohickey will do in the future.

Well everything fails it is only a question of time. But I am hire to tell my client is it working today.

I am kinda surprised as I have always (mostly) admired your stand against the bucket head realator sucking inspector.

When I started in this profession I was a member of the local home inspection association. At meetings we usually had a speaker and one night the very well respected and owner of a large multi home inspection company did a presentation on waters heaters.

He explained it all and then said something like now you know what to inspect when you are inspecting a water heater. So the not so shy self asked "so you test the tprv? " "oh no" replied the speaker "it may get stuck and the realator will be upset." I then asked "do you write it up when the tprv goes uphill?"

"of course not" replied the speaker

Then I asked "do you write it up if the drain line is reduced?"

"Listen" he said " you can write up anything you want but if you want to get realators to refer you then don't."

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