Isn’t it just the last thing you need during the crazy rush right before the holidays? Your maintenance guy tells you there’s a puddle of water under your furnace. Oh, great… there goes your dream of a profitable December and starting off the New Year with a trip to the tropics. Will you have to shell out thousands for a new furnace instead?
Don’t cancel your plans just yet! There are a number of reasons that can lead to your furnace leaking water, and most of them don’t mean an untimely death for your heating system.
Start by identifying what type of heating equipment you have, and check out these possible causes for water leaks.
1. High-efficiency furnace
If you have a newer high efficiency furnace (with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency or AFUE rating of 90 percent or more), these systems extract heat from the exhaust which produces condensation. Normally, the condensation is drained through a tube to a pan or floor drain. If there is a clog or a break in the drain line, or if the floor drain is clogged with debris, you could end up with a puddle under your furnace.
Check the drain first and clear it if necessary. If the drain line appears compromised, this is an easy fix for an HVAC service technician.
2. Furnace with a humidifier
Do you have a furnace with a humidifier attached? If so, the humidifier could have a leak, or it could be clogged and overflowing into your furnace. If you catch this early, it may not be a major expense to clean out or even replace the humidifier. But if the leak goes on for a while, it can cause major damage to your furnace. Call an HVAC expert as soon as possible to inspect your system.
3. Combined heat and air conditioning heat pump system
If you have a combined heating and air conditioning system with a heat pump, the water leak could actually be coming from the air conditioning. These systems have a combined drain line which could be clogged. If you are still using the air conditioning occasionally, the coils could be frozen or the condensate pump may have failed. Even if you suspect the water is coming from the air conditioner, don’t neglect this issue because water leaks can ultimately cause damage to your building’s walls, ceilings and floors.
This may turn out to be a minor repair, but you need to call an HVAC service company with expertise in combined heating and air conditioning systems.
4. Newly-installed gas furnace
If you’ve just bought a new gas furnace and it’s already leaking, you’re probably pretty steamed. Chances are, you went with the lowest bid and got installers who are not the most experienced (or just trying to cut corners so they make money on the job).
There are several installation mistakes that can cause water leaks from a gas furnace. The flue pipe that exhausts the toxic gases from your building could be the wrong size, or there could be a leak in the joint between the furnace and the outside vent pipe. Also, the exhaust pipe may have been incorrectly installed; it needs to slope slightly downward toward the exterior so that water drains out of the building rather than back into the furnace.
Now you have a decision to make. You can call back the original installer and have them correct the mistake. But if you’re not sure you can trust them, you might want to find a more reputable HVAC company to check over the furnace. This way, you’ll know the issue is fixed and there are no more mistakes waiting to cause you repair issues down the line.
5. Hot water boiler
If your heating system is a hot water boiler with baseboards or radiators, anytime you have a leak you should immediately close off the valve that feeds water to the system. If your slow drip is the precursor to a major leak, you’ll save yourself from a big mess by limiting the amount of water in the system until you can get an HVAC repair guy in there.
The problem is likely to be just a faulty valve. Especially if you’ve recently had a repair done, it’s possible that air was introduced into the system which increases the pressure on the valves. You’ll have to get the repair technician to come take another look. In the worst case, you may have a leak in your boiler, and there’s a chance it will need to be replaced.
Make sure you get the correct diagnosis by calling an MSCA-certified HVAC repair company. If you’re concerned that your current vendor is not up to snuff (or worse, cutting corners at your expense), learn how to find an HVAC expert you can trust with our free guide, Contract Confidence: Transitioning to a New HVAC Service Provider.