If you’ve got water pooling on the floor near your furnace, you’re definitely not alone. Countless Wichita homeowners experience this issue each year. The good news is that it’s often easy to resolve. Following is everything you need to know about leaky furnaces including how to fix them.
What Type of Furnace Do You Have in Your Home?
If you were around for your furnace installation, you’re probably well-aware of the type of furnace you have, its needs, and its capabilities. However, if you’ve recently purchased existing construction and aren’t all that familiar with your home heating equipment, you’ll have to determine whether you’ve got a conventional furnace or a high-efficiency condensing furnace before your can start troubleshooting. Conventional furnaces have a sloped, metal vent pipe. High-efficiency condensing furnaces have PVC pipes instead. If you have a white PVC pipe on the side of your furnace or protruding from its top, this is a high-efficiency condensing furnace.
High-Efficiency Condensing Furnaces Produce Condensation All the Time
With a high-efficiency condensing furnace, the production of condensation isn’t a big deal. These units constantly produce it. However, they’re not supposed to release it onto the floor. Condensing furnaces typically leak when:
- Their condensate drains are blocked.
- Their condensation lines are clogged or damaged.
- There are problems at the condensate pump.
You can try troubleshooting the problem by inspecting the drain trap on your furnace. This component collects both water and dirt during normal furnace operation. A clogged drain trap can usually be cleared with a wet-dry vacuum. If you’re uncomfortable doing this job, we can do it for you.
How to Know if You’ve Got a Condensation Leak
High-efficiency furnaces have an annualized fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of 90 or higher. This means that 90% of the fuel they consume is used to produce heat, and the remaining 10% is released through their venting systems. Their efficiency is largely attributed to the installation of a second heat exchanger. Whereas conventional furnaces have just one heat exchanger, high-efficiency condensing furnaces have two.
The extra heat that high-efficiency furnaces generate produces a fair amount of condensation. This is usually carried away from the unit and the home via a floor drain. If your floor drain is broken or clogged, you’ll notice water pooling right near the base of your heater. Letting it build up can result in damaged flooring, baseboards, drywall, and more.
Signs You’ve Got a Plumbing Problem on Your Hands
Finding pooling water by your heater doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got furnace problems. Instead, it may mean that you have a serious plumbing issue. Broken or clogged plumbing pipes can result in a system-wide backup. Assessing the clarity of the pooling water is one way to determine whether it’s coming from your heater. Condensate from your furnace should be clear and odorless. Conversely, water from a plumbing backup can be dark, odorous, and germ-filled. If you think you’ve got a plumbing backup on your hands, keep small children, pets, and other households residents away from the area. Gray water and black water from blocked plumbing systems are rife with biological and chemical contaminants. You’ll need to hire a plumber to find the source of the problem and fix it.
Your Humidifier Leaking
A humidifier leak is something that only a licensed HVAC technician or plumber can resolve. If you’ve got a humidifier hooked into your plumbing system, this device is designed to add moisture to the building interior. It helps maintain comfortable indoor conditions during winter when the heater is running nearly all of the time. However, when humidifiers get backed up or clogged, they’ll start to leak. Damaged or poorly maintained humidifiers are another common reason for pooling water at the furnace.
What to Do if You’ve Got a Conventional Furnace
There are three likely reasons why your conventional furnace is leaking. These are:
- Your furnace leak is actually an air conditioner leak.
- The vent pipe isn’t properly designed.
- Your humidifier is leaking.
If you can locate the exact place where your humidifier is installed, check to see if you can find the source of the leak. Although water may be pooling by your furnace, your humidifier is a very likely culprit. Check the humidifier’s water feed tube, drain line, and water tap line. You can also check the humidifier’s casing. If your conventional furnace has a built-in humidifier, you’ll likely find it positioned on the side of the heating unit. As with homes that have high-efficiency heating systems, humidifier leaks around conventional furnaces should always be handled by professionals.
Dealing With a Broken Vent Pipe
The vent pipe on your conventional furnace will be all metal and easy to spot. Also known as the flue pipe, this component exists to carry combustion gases out of the home. When the flue pipe is working like it should be, combustion gases will exit the building before cooling and becoming condensation. However, if the flue pipe is poorly designed or damaged, the resulting moisture will collect on the floor. Check to ensure that the flue pipe has an adequate slope and that there’s no moisture collecting on this component. If the flue pipe is straight or wet, contact an HVAC company right away.
Your Air Conditioner Is the Culprit
There’s also a fair chance that your air conditioner is actually the culprit. This may be the case if water only collects at the base of your furnace when you’re actively using your cooling system. Air conditioners have the multi-pronged task of filtering your indoor air, cooling your living environment, and regulating indoor humidity. This final step in its efforts is what produces condensation. When your air conditioner is running, it’s constantly absorbing moisture from the building interior. The collected condensation is then routed out of the home via a drain line. Blockages or structural damages at the drain line will invariably result in pooling water. Moreover, this water will likely collect right near or right at the base of your furnace. That’s because this drain line is frequently installed on top of furnaces or next to them. If your air conditioner is the culprit, an HVAC professional can both pinpoint the exact location of your drain line leak and fix it.
You’ve Got a Clogged Filter and a Frozen Furnace Coil
Dirty, clogged filters are a source of countless HVAC problems. Surprisingly, they can also be the cause of a leaky furnace. The filter in your HVAC system should be changed once every one to two months. If you use your heating or cooling system every day, it should be changed every 30 days. You may realize that you’ve overlooked this easy but important maintenance task for quite a while. When an air filter is clogged, airflow over the furnace coil is greatly restricted. If you continue to operate your furnace with a dirty filter, the furnace coil will eventually freeze. It can also lead to pooling water on the floor.
At Fahnestock, we’ve been providing first-rate heating and cooling services throughout the greater Wichita, KS, area for more than 70 years. We also offer reliable plumbing and electric services. If you’ve got a leaky furnace and don’t know why, our technicians can diagnose your problem and fix it in no time. Call us today to find out about our full range of services or to schedule an appointment.