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WHEN IT RAINS,IT POURS!


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6 replies to this topic

#1 freedomfive

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 08:40 PM

(explanation for my topic title: we've worked 16 hour days this week due to some intense storms causing water in basements, on top of taking care of a daughter with scarlet fever and a german shepherd with adrenal failure.)

Okay y'all, I am looking for some major help here...this has been perplexing me since Thursday. We do general property maintenance and repair, and call in the specialists (HVAC, plumbing, electrical) when needed and I haven't encountered this one before. Here's the knowns:

We got called to a jobsite (rental townhome) because water was dripping out of a recessed light in the basement. In looking at the area above the finished ceiling, I saw that right near that light there was water dripping from the bottom of the return venting trunk, right below where a return venting attached in. So, I called it in a needing to call an HVAC.

He came on site the next day and apparently did not see the drip and said there is no problem, must be the drain line next to it. (problem is that is the sump pump line and we tested it and it got a clean bill of health.)

So, we went back on site and cut open the ceiling below that drip. When I took off the flexible pipe from that return, the water poured out of it like Niagara Falls. I reached into the trunk and there was some water in there (the day before we had peeked in to the next return, which is the last one before it goes into the main unit, and it was bone dry.The one that is having problems is the second to last return.) I went back a few feet on the ceiling and removed a canlight and pushed up on that part of the venting and more water came pouring out...

I couldn't follow it back to see where it goes/where that register is..it is a two story townhome and I would have to open up perfectly good drywall to see what happens to it...

So, how in the heck does water get inside return venting line???? We asked a friend who is HVAC and he said maybe a kid poured water down the return register or a tub overflowed?

If the kids won't talk, and we can't waterboard them (just kidding!!!) how can I find out where that return venting goes to...I am envisioning squeezing baby powder into the return registers and waiting for a cloud to poof out of that one that I have hanging down the basement ceiling?

Thank you in advance, oh wise HVAC masters, for your pearls of wisdom...

Natasha
Frustrated from banging my head on the wall for three days :)

Edited by freedomfive, 30 July 2011 - 08:43 PM.


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#2 kdog

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 08:44 PM

Could be a leak in the exterior envelope (walls/roof) allowing rain etc to enter and using the ductwork as a road home
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#3 ACtechGUY

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 10:58 PM

I am having a little trouble following exactly what you mean by "trunking" and "venting line" ................Also you never mention where the furnace or fan coil is in relation to all this.................


When I took off the flexible pipe from that return, the water poured out of it like Niagara Falls.

That indicates a simple clogged condensate line. When the water generated by an A/C cannot drain out of the unit via the 3/4 inch PVC PRIMARY DRAIN line it backs up and will then drain into the return duct or anywhere else it can leak into.

Have the a/c guy clear and flush out the drain line regardless of weather he thinks it needs it or not. It cannot hurt to ensure the a/c unit drain is free flowing.

Edited by ACtechGUY, 30 July 2011 - 11:04 PM.


#4 freedomfive

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 12:24 AM

Hey all! It's almost midnight Sunday and we have then answer!!!! But first, thanks for the responses!

ACTechGuy- Sorry for the confusion with my language- since I'm not HVAC I used the words I thought worked to explain what I meant - as always, I (and only I!) knew what I was talking about ;) You should have seen the look on the plumbers face who got to witness my explanation in person- my hands waving, the wild, half-crazed look in my eyes...

Kdog- thank you for the idea about the water intruding from an exterior source. Since that seemed to be the concensus among HVAC people we started to explore that option. On Saturday, we turned off the A/C (since we did have the highest dewpoint ever recorded here in MN last week) and unplugged the sump pump and waited to see what happened. We found out the dripping continued so that ruled out those two as possible sources, leaving plumbing (or the rains!) But where and how?

I took the helpers (offspring) with me to the jobsite today. I had one stand on the ladder in the basement with his ear to that return line and then I had my daughter (aka Sonic Boom) stand at the top of the steps. I went to each register, one by one, and yelled into it, with the instructions to my son to yell out "stop!" when he heard my voice and the daughter to relay that to me in case I couldn't hear him.

The one it turned out to be was in the living room, on the backside of the kitchen. What was on the other side of that wall? The fridge. When I pulled the fridge out I saw black tubing laying on the floor..it was the ice maker supply line and it had gotten pushed out of it's receptacle by the ice in the frozen fill line. GE- really? You don't put any type of fastener on that thing????Don't you know ice expands?

That was the culprit. Every time the ice maker went to make ice all of that water was flowing to the ground and falling into the return venting.

So, there it is. Problem solved. Sorry so long but thought I would detail it out to help someone else out in the future if they have "mystery" water dripping from the ceiling. It is true what the old timers say: water can travel far from the actual source, and you just don't know what is going on until you cut a hole out and stick your head in.

Thanks again y'all!

Natasha

#5 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 05:46 AM

... It is true what the old timers say: water can travel far from the actual source, and you just don't know what is going on until you cut a hole out and stick your head in.

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#6 freedomfive

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 09:00 AM

Cute ;)

That helps keep it all in perspective, doesn't it?

#7 kdog

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Posted 01 August 2011 - 01:32 PM

Good follow-up, thanks for posting that :thumbsup:
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