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Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/23/2011 4:52 PM

I live in a 5-6 year old house, and today as we were setting up the tables in the basement for Thanksgiving, my mom discovered that there is literally a stream of water running through our vents. There is no water in the main floor vents, so I'm pretty sure it's just our basement. We would like to find out sooner rather than later how to fix this considering it's currently on the market to be sold. My mom thinks that this isn't new, but we honestly couldn't tell you for sure. It hasn't had any real problems with water before, and my mom is stressing out. Please Help.

Sincerely,

Stacey

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#1

Re: Water in the ventilation system?!?

11/23/2011 5:13 PM

Hi Stacey and welcome to CR4,

Has it rained heavily in the last 48 hours?

Is your sump pump working OK?

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Water in the ventilation system?!?

11/23/2011 5:26 PM

No, it hasn't rained in a few days, and I do believe my sump pump is working, but how would I know if it wasn't? :-/

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#5
In reply to #2

Re: Water in the ventilation system?!?

11/23/2011 6:00 PM

According to our contracter we don't have a sump pump

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#3

Re: Water in the ventilation system?!?

11/23/2011 5:27 PM

"...there is literally a stream of water running through our vents." What vents?

So this stream of water...

Where is it draining? Floor drain, carpet, furnace, bucket for now ???

Do you have any idea where it is coming from?

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#4
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Re: Water in the ventilation system?!?

11/23/2011 5:59 PM

Our Heating and air vents in our floors, and we don't know where the water is coming from or where it is going. It looks like it is just sitting in the vents for the most part. It only looked like it was moving because the air was on at the time.

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#6

Re: Water in the ventilation system?!?

11/23/2011 6:23 PM

I would probably look for signs of water around the house to see if the water table has been rising and what you are seeing is seepage from below ground.

If you have a metal rod you can push it into the soil and then pull it up and inspect for moisture on the rod. Do this around the perimeter of the house to see if there is a single source for the water.

If you have city water, check your water meter and see if it is flowing when everything else is turned off. You might try using a stethoscope or even a rod placed up to your ear to listen for water running in the water pipe.

Lastly, sometimes water can pool in vents if the humidity is high inside and the ground is cool. Generally in winter this is not the case.

One final thought would be too check your furnace. Some furnaces include a humidifier as part of the system that is designed to add a small amount of water to the furnace air. If that system has gone bad it may be continually leaking into the vents and causing the pooling you are experiencing.

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#7
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Re: Water in the ventilation system?!?

11/23/2011 10:11 PM

Score!

What he said - do that for those reasons.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Water in the ventilation system?!?

11/23/2011 10:39 PM

Not knowing where you live, I would agree with the humidifier theory. Also be sure to check the evaporators condensate pan to be sure it is draining properly and not over flowing into the ducting system.

Some times with humidification there are sensors that will bring on the dx system to dehumidify the air passing through the coil. The moisture is removed from the air and sent into the condensate pan and its drain system. This may have been plugged by foreign material.

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#9

Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/23/2011 11:51 PM

Hi, Stacey, welcome to CR4!

Lots of good suggestions already so I'm playing catchup and trying to visualize the layout.

Can you describe the house a little better? For instance, 1 or 2 story, what part of the country (in general, not specifically), height of the vents above the floor, location of the A/C unit in relation to the problem area, etc. Also, how did you come to notice this in the first place? Was it running out across the floor or dripping onto something? And, lastly, have there been any recent changes made to the A/C or heating system, or big shifts in the weather?

Let us know, please, thanks!

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#10

Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/24/2011 5:32 AM

Hi, tell me is this is this something that has just happened or is it an ongoing thing?

If it is continuous then you have problems,but I suspect this is a buildup of condensation thats accumulated & then run down all at once,most ventilation systems have a water trap to collect and release any buildup of moisture through a pipe to the outside & into a drain, My first job would be to look all around the house to see if you can find a spill pipe it will only be a small tube ½-¾" dia, it may be on the inside,It would normally be at the lowest point of the ductwork,If you find it try pushing a flexible wire up it (a curtain wire is ideal) it may be that there is a blockage, build up of fluff ect,there may be an inpection panel close to where the drain is to actually clean out any build up of fluff,dust ect.

Good luck with your search and post your findings.

Bazzer

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#11
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Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/24/2011 8:07 AM

I suspect it is just an historical buildup and collection of condensed humidity. We purchased a dehumidifier for our basement here in Ohio after Mrs Milo noticed our basement walls were"wet." it took almost a month for the unit (41 pints/day capacity) to get to the point where it could cycle off. I set it at 50%. We really didn't have any leakage seepage or other water sourcing. Just humidity and temperature differential in our basement. Milo

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#12

Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/24/2011 10:41 AM

Gotta go with Milo here.

Our place in Minn. had standing water in the basement. The old sump pump was non operational.

I put a dehumidifier in, adjusted the setting to 50%RH and just let it run. (It drains directly into the floor drain, so doesn't need any attention. You may need to empty the pan if you have no drain, or don't want to rig a small pump to it.

It solved the problem.

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#13
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Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/24/2011 2:55 PM

Thank you all for your help. Here are the details; the house is a rambler with a basement located in northern Utah. The home is 5 years old and has separate furnaces for the basement and the main level. The basement ducts are encased in the concrete floor of the basement. I don't know if the duct junction under the furnace is encased in concrete as I am unable to access it. The water is 5-6" deep in ducts in a bedroom, family room, and bathroom stretching from 25' west of the furnace to 20' east of the furnace. There is a french drain around the footings of the house. My only guess is that ground water has seeped up into the junction from underneath, or there is a crack in the footings that has allowed water to seep in. This has not been a wet fall, although we had a very wet spring. Thank you again for your help and suggestions.

Stacey's Dad

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#14
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Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/24/2011 6:53 PM

I would first look to see if your furnace has a humidifier system. It could be malfunctioning and pouring water into your vents.

If not, I would start by driving a rod into the ground around the perimeter of the house and look for wet soil clinging to the rod. If you hit water the rod will be wet.

A high water table could be from natural sources, but could also be a symptom of a leaking water pipe.

Stagnent water in the vents can be a health hazard. I believe Legionnaire's Disease is caused by such environments, so you should act quickly to resolve the problem.

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#15
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Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/25/2011 11:05 AM

Wow 5" - 6" deep in the duct. First would get a sump pump installed in the low spot of the duct work and get the water out of the duct work. The best place would probably be directly under the furnace as I suspect it must be a down flow since the duct is in the floor of the basement, or find the lowest spot in the run and install a inexpensive sump pump you can get at you local home improvement store.

You can hook the sump pump drain line to your existing condensate drain system (this is a two for one, gets the water out of the duct and also sees if the drain systems is working properly) then be sure if it has a humidifier turn of the water and power feed to it. If you can not get access to a dehumidifier you can install a space heater in the basement and run the system in cooling. The heat will false load the thermostat running the air conditioning and then condensing the moisture from the room and ducting on the systems evaporator coils getitng the water out of the space (kind of a make shift dehimidifer) this also lets you see if the condensate drain pan is draining properly.

Remove and inspet the humidifer (nozzeles are clear) to be sure it is misting properly into the air stream and not squirting water into the duct work.

Or call in a HVAC professional in your area and have them take a look.

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#20
In reply to #15

Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/27/2011 7:30 PM

We are going to install a Sump Pump, and hopefully that'll fix everything. Thank you SO much for all of your help. :)

Stacey

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#16

Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/25/2011 11:09 PM

In my mind, I'm picturing a large basement with a furnace close to the center of the area and whose metal(?) ducting is encased in the concrete floor. In some of the ducts (actual percentage of affected area as compared to unaffected area is not known) 5-6" of water has accumulated and now stands stagnant. The ducts presumably face upward and the water can be seen when the light strikes it just so.

I'm kind of in the ground water infiltration camp, too. Can the contractor who built the house be contacted and asked for his thoughts? Presumably they would have the as-built plans on file and could give a definite yes/no on whether or not there's a humidifier in the system and maybe even details on how the site was prepped before the basement was installed. They may even have a duct inspection camera that could give some insight into the problem.

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#17

Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/26/2011 2:37 AM

Perform all the checks already mentioned. Don't spend money on sump pumping.

Scoop the water out manually with a chopped plastic bottle, pour the scoopage into a bucket and empty the bucket outside and downhill from your basement . Mop it dry with a towel.

Observe the vents, taking note of the weather, the furnace use, humidifier duty and internal plumbing usage.

See if it fills up again, and try to work out the source or call a HVAC practitioner.

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#18
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Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/26/2011 10:50 AM

I would not recommend hand scooping 45' of duct (25' west and 20' east) 5"-6" deep in water, you are opening yourself up to sickness. I would imagine the duct is lined with a minimum of r-6 insulation on the interior (or it would be quite an energy waster spending time heating and cooling the concrete poured over the duct, concrete is a sinc not insulation) which has collected some material over the years of use. Dust, Spiders, mold.......not sure now that it is been saturated by water, and where is the water coming from, lets hope a gray water line has not broken in the slab.

Dont touch the water would be my recommendation. Install the sump and get it out of the house and dry before people begin to get sick.

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#19

Re: Water In The Ventilation System?!?

11/27/2011 12:44 AM

That big and not metal lined? I was picturing a steel or PVC duct with clean water in it..

I use a wet vacuum cleaner for larger slurps or things I don't like touching. Setting up a pump (if none exists) and its associated plumbing is costly both in time and equipment.

Try to remove the water and dry the duct the best way you can. Then observe.

This will need to be done regardless of the water's source.

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