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26 comments
Anonymous Poster

I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 10:30 AM

Hello! It's me again (the gutter over flow girl)..... So there's a new problem that has assisted sense the water seepage in my livingroom wall and second bedroom. I cleaned my heat vents which is also my central air vents and there is water in all of them. I've read everywhere and I'm getting - there might be a water pipe under my house that is cracked and there's a type of insurance you purchase to prevent this????? I would like to know what does the water pipe and my heat/central air vents have to do with each other? Are they connected? Help me out guys - this just keeps getting worse and looks like I'm going to be thousands in the hole. Oh and my house is brick.

thanks,

jessica

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Anonymous Poster
#1

Re: I HAVE WATER IN MY HEAT VENTS, I LIVE ON A SLAB

06/08/2010 10:58 AM

Hello Jessica;

You wrote "...insurance you purchase to prevent this?????" Certainly, if you had purchased an insurance, the pipe wouldn't have cracked, or even be there !! (add this to Murphy's laws).

I have a question for you, that I don't frequently ask: Is your A/C a package unit? if it is an air cooler as well, then chances are that the evaporator is condensing ambient humidity into water drops that run down your ducts.

Also, consider the actual condition of the property, and how much it's worth the fixes; and based on your appreciations, ponder the posibility of moving out before you end being thousands in the hole (whatever that is, doesn't sound good).

Yahlasit

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Anonymous Poster
#3
In reply to #1

Re: I HAVE WATER IN MY HEAT VENTS, I LIVE ON A SLAB

06/08/2010 11:27 AM

No our furance and A/C are separate.... I've lived here for 2 years this year and I don't believe this is the first time this has happened. (It can't be)

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#2

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 10:59 AM

Hi Jess,

The in/below slab water pipes have nothing to do with your HVAC system except they share the same space (in/below slab).

Although I would think (hope) that your duct work is completely encased in concrete and not exposed to the soil under your slab. That having been said, I do not think that a cracked pipe in/below slab is causing this.

As far as insurance, I am no specialist but I would say the fact that this has already occurred (pre-existing), if you took out a policy now, you would not be covered for the pre-existing condition.

Could the water in your ductwork have anything to do with last weeks gutter overflow event?

When the living room and second bedroom received water could some of it have run in to the ductwork through a floor register and you did not notice at the time?

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Anonymous Poster
#4
In reply to #2

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 11:37 AM

I would hope that there encased as well, but not sure. The home is over 30 years old and all the houses seem to be the same set up, so I would assume that other people had to have gone through this. I'm not sure if the over flowing of the gutters and vents are tied in - I didn't notice the vents wet until last night. Now I'm not sure if the water did infact seep in through outside, I'm starting to wonder if the vents got so much water that they over flowed. My vents are built into the floor not into the wall or ceiling. So is this even possible?

Thanks for all your help

jess

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 11:53 AM

Yup - sure is possible.

If there is still a large amount of water in the vents and going on the assumption that the water is from the gutter flood event, they need to be pumped out.

You can get a cheap pump, connect a garden hose to it and direct the water outside.

Be VERY careful not to get any electrical cord connectors wet and make sure your hands are dry when you plug in and unplug cords. Do not lay energized electrical cords in water – BE CAREFULL. If you are not comfortable doing this type of work call a pro. It is not worth getting hurt or worse.

Once you have pumped out as much water as you can, I would run the heat (verify that water has not damaged your HVAC system FIRST!) until the ducts are dry.

You will probably will want to open your windows, it will most likely get very warm and humid if you don't

The main thing is to get those ducts dried out as soon as possible to prevent mold from setting in.

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Anonymous Poster
#7
In reply to #6

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 12:13 PM

Thanks again for all your help! It's much appreciated!!

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#5

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 11:50 AM

I had the same problems and found out the entry point for the water in the ducts was the plenum (were all the ducts originate from) directly below the counterflow furnace. The bottom of the plenum was much lower than the ductwork in my house.

Call an heating/AC expert and have them check it out.

It is my opinion that if you make sure the rainwater drains away from your slab and you dry the ducts out, you will be ok.

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Anonymous Poster
#8
In reply to #5

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 12:16 PM

I will definitely get someone out - Thanks so much for the advice

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#12
In reply to #8

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 5:29 PM

I think you ought to call a company that specializes in waterproofing foundations. The combination of issues you are dealing with sounds a lot more serious than just an A/C problem or some overflowing gutters.

As Mike Holmes (of HGTV) would say, if you gonna do it - do it right.

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Anonymous Poster
#15
In reply to #8

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/09/2010 9:13 AM

To be sure that the water isn't seeping in from one of your water lines under the slab; shut off all of the taps be sure not to run any hot water a few minutes before your check, locate your water meter to see that it isn't spinning or advancing.

If your house is on a slab most likely the meter will be near the road in a plastic box w/lid.

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Anonymous Poster
#10
In reply to #5

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 5:07 PM

Your duct work, is it completely incased with concrete? The more I'm reading the more I think I have Sonotubes (wood/paper tubes) there layed down before the slab is layed and then incased with concrete (how is this even safe?) If anyones heard of this or knows more about the tubes please let me know.

thanks,

jess

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 5:13 PM

SONOTUBES are forms for concrete columns or piers.

You fill them with concrete, let them cure, and they become structural elements. This together with reinforcing bars, bases, ties, etc. etc.

I have never heard us them being used to form a void, but I guess it would work. Sort of a large and expensive void, though.

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#9

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 1:42 PM

The title of your thread gets me going...

Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

I live in a brick house. No, not too drab.

Had overflow gutters, good advice I did nab

From CR4 gurus, who all like to blab.

With lynlynch and Hendrik guest Jessica did gab

When is your birthday? Are you Cancer the Crab?

My favorite Color? Oh, well, it's olive drab.

And what do you do? Me? I drive a cab!

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#13

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/08/2010 9:02 PM

To tell the truth Jessica, at this point I don't know what to tell you from where I am. From what I can tell you have water in the walls, and in the vents, but I am having real trouble visualizing this house.

Is the HVAC in the attic? Has the condenser pan overflowed? At this point I want to see pictures of the significant suspects, before I go on to say this that or the other thing.

I am under the impression that in order to post pictures, one must become a registered member. It would be lovely if we could diagnose your issues from here. Without more specific information, and pictures of the situation, I myself can really do no more than say that water runs downhill.

You say your house is on a slab, and that your house is brick, and that there was a heavy rain, and water is getting in the house. The gutters were cleaned? Is the roof simply wore out?

It is unlikely that your house is brick as I thought a brick house was when I was a child. Typically homes are either sided, or faced with brick, but the framing is pretty much the same story.

I can at least eliminate your water heater, for you have not told us that your water heater blew in the attic, and dumped water through the ceiling. Water heaters blow a valve and dump water fairly often for no particular reason. I am not a fan of putting water heaters in the attic and depending on the pan fill sensor to stop the disaster. I am for putting the water heater outside, or under the house.

Actually I'm not so wild about running plumbing in ditches and gravel underneath a slab even with PVC pipes, and consider a good crawlspace, or home with a basement superior in light of the problems with the Frank Lloyd Wright Roby House in Chicago where the galvanized pipes clogged and had to be jackhammered up to fix the plumbing.

Still the bottom line as far as your reported problems from where I sit, is; pictures please?

P.S. Ought I have to used a semi colon, or a colon? I think the semi colon is correct for the colon is for lists?

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#16
In reply to #13

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/09/2010 9:26 AM

"P.S. Ought I have to used a semi colon, or a colon? I think the semi colon is correct for the colon is for lists?"

Haha, neither would have fixed that sentence.

Think of a semi colon as a replacement for a comma + a conjunction to connect two independent, and complete, sentences. And think of a colon as a road sign telling the reader what follows is additional detail, proof, or explanation.

So, to keep "pictures please" as the post-colon clause, the pre-colon sentance should have a vague subject which the post-colon clause clarifies. For example:

"I need some more information: pictures please."

Where "information" is the vague portion that "pictures please" provides additional details for.

JavaHead

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Anonymous Poster
#20
In reply to #13

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/09/2010 3:30 PM

Okay.... I don't have water in my walls and if i did then i'd have spots or the wall would be damp. The HVAC is in my kitchen enclosed in a closet with my water heater - I've taken the front of the furance off and found no water standing, there is some in the pan that the air conditioner drips into. (Which then the pan fills and then is drained out) I have never had water in that room. Yes my house is brick and is on a slab wether it's faced with brick I don't know but its not brick inside my house - I have plaster walls. I had a problem with the gutters 2 weeks ago when we had a hard rain and the gutters overflowed (which i thought resulted to getting water in the house) but then found out that my vents are damp and had retained water. Sense then I've cleaned the gutters and the down spouts that go into the ground. My vents are in my floor. My in/out flow of heat/AC come out my floor. My ductwork is concrete - im sure i have sonotubes because i can see a thin line of material inbetween the concrete. What I'm not sure of is if there is some sort of trunk under my house and in the slab that connects all my ducts, or if there all ran separately. All my vents have sand at the bottom of them so soil is getting in some way. My soil isn't real soft either, I'm pretty sure I have more clay then anything. If this is true then the water would have a hard time soaking into the ground or going downhill - more like the water would be moving side to side right? So all aside i have to call someone out that fixes or patches sonotubes. There going to have to run a optical camera through to find the cracks if any. Does all heating/AC companies work with sonotubes?

Thank you so much for your input

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#23
In reply to #20

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/09/2010 4:26 PM

There may be a misconception of what SONOTUBE is. SONOTUBE is a registered trademark, but is one of those generalized phrases that other manufacturers of similar stuff enjoy.

Here is a tube, braced and ready to be filled with concrete:

Here is an image of a filled tube pier, with a wood column mounted:

SONOTUBE is intended as a concrete form.

Now, a few other observations about your post:

Your home exterior is Brick Veneer, over framing (probably wood). It is appropriate to call it a brick house.

Your ductwork is not concrete. You tell us "All my vents have sand at the bottom of them so soil is getting in some way." You also tell us "My vents are in my floor. My in/out flow of heat/AC come out my floor." Are you certain there was no sand at the bottom of your vents before this recent event? That seems to me the natural place for dirt, sand, and such to migrate as you sweep the floor.

"The HVAC is in my kitchen enclosed in a closet with my water heater - I've taken the front of the furance off and found no water standing, there is some in the pan that the air conditioner drips into." The dripping is normal, in the heat of summer. Does the air conditioner part have some hoses that go outside to another machine?

Enough for now.

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#14

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/09/2010 8:48 AM

Jessica,

The quick way to find out if there is a water leak in your pipes...

Shut off ALL water consuming items in your house and yard. Go to where your Water Meter is located (Usually in the ground by the road), Remove the cover, and look at the Dial. On most dials is a small (1/4"-Red) wheel, square, or star shaped device. This is a "Leak Detector" and should not be turning or moving. If it is rotating, and there is no water being used or running in your house, you have a pipe leak. The faster it is turning, the bigger the leak is. This will at least remove one source or possible water…

If you do have a leak the best way to find it is to look for somebody who does Thermographic Inspections. The will find where the offending pipe is located and direct further work to correct it…

Good Luck!!!

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Anonymous Poster
#21
In reply to #14

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/09/2010 3:32 PM

I've tried this already... and no the meter doesn't run when i have nothing running. But thank you

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#17

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/09/2010 11:32 AM

The lady had a downpour and her gutters overflowed, getting water in her house....and now someone is suggesting or even thinks a water leak from the water pipes is the cause of the water in the vents.......COME ON now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#18

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/09/2010 11:55 AM

I would suspect that you might have a AC problem where your coil is freezing up while running then thaws during the off cycle, many things can cause this type of a problem, including a diry air filter, dirty coil, low refergent, to a bad fan motor.

Maybe you have just a stopped up drain from the evaparator causing the drain pan to over in to the under floor duct work.

Try the common problems first.

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/09/2010 1:50 PM

I'd bet that Hotwater (#18) is on target and a GA from me! Given that the A/C unit has a drip pan, perhaps it's drain is clogged and running over. I didn't get just when the problem started (that would be the big clue). Was it when warm weather came around and the OP started using the A/C?

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#22

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/09/2010 4:12 PM

You may have high ground water which is leaking into your pipes under the slab. Go outside and dig a hole in the ground a couple feet deep near you house. If you hit water, then the water table is high; dry out the house and then sell it.

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#24

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/09/2010 7:02 PM

I hope this will help. I live in Indiana, my son purchased a home with a down-flow HVAC system. The home was built on a slab. The method used was steel or sheet mtal ductwork (with weather-proofing) on the outside buried below grade. They connect centrally underneath the furnace, or downdraft plenum. After being buried they usually use compacted sand, then pour concrete. Thr problem occurs when either the ducts rust or become damaged(house settling for example). Cleaning the ducts(extracting the water and sand is a good idea) so mold doesn't form. This might take care of the problem if you can keep the water directed away from your home.Still it might not hurt to call a HVAC professional. Good Luck.

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Anonymous Poster
#25

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

06/18/2010 9:01 AM

The water is probably from the recent rains and comes through rusted or broken duct work. Check the drainage around your house. Extend downspouts at least 8' away from the slab. Keep your gutters clean. Monitor the registers after rain. If it only happens once or twice a year you might consider "living with it".

One "fix" is to bury 4" drainage tile and gravel around the perimeter of your house to give the water a quick way too exit. Extend the tile away to a low area or the street. Heavy work, but might be necessary.

Another is to change your furnace to an upflow and abandon the slab ducts all together. New duct work will have to be run, if it's a two story they can be somewhat hidden in closets. In that case you need a heating contractor. Not inexpensive but can be done.

Then fill the floor ducts with cement and forget your problems.

AT NO TIME should you consider cleaning it up and "selling the house" to an unsuspecting buyer. There are disclosure laws that demands a seller advise a buyer in writing all problems associated with the house.

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#26

Re: I Have Water in My Heat Vents, I Live on a Slab

10/03/2011 11:10 AM

Hey gutter over flow girl, how was this problem resolved? Many people read this forum for answers. Would you please share your results?

It seems to me the anonymous member gave the best advise. Did you follow any of it? Also, could there be another 'fix'?

I live on a slab, brick house and experience damp vents every spring and fall. I have directed the rain water away from the house more than 10 feet, keep the gutters clean, and added more down spouts to divert water down those drains. The smell is terrible, and takes the joy out of living in a mid-century ranch.

I am very interested to hear what you did.

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