Water damage from AC pan overflowing

loves2readJuly 9, 2009

We discovered major water leak from an AC pan that dropped into floor of attic and leaked water from the coil into the ceilings/walls/floors of the rooms beneath--found it about 1 PM Thursday before July 4 but extent of water damage means it probably started a while ago.

Don't know really when--we are not currently living in the house. Moved out to new one and have been waiting for market to improve to do remodeling and put it up for sale.

We go by to check it periodically--once a week or more--and saw nothing untoward before the big damage was visible.

We got remediation company to come out that night---they took out wet insulation in attic--

dried up the water in utility room floor--

took up carpet and cut out wet pad--

took up baseboards in several rooms and drilled holes to facilitate air flow into wall cavities and into attic in main wet areas--

cut hole in ceiling of bathroom hall which seemed to be main water point

set up fans and evaporators

That was Thursday--they got there about 7 pm and worked until 1130

Friday a different guy came out-- checked the moisture situation and said that most of the walls were dry but one was not--he cut larger section out of bottom sheetrock to increase air flow--and took away several of the fans from the dry areas downstairs...

Sunday he came back and said that everything was dry and took out all the equip...

Meanwhile the AC guy we could get ahold of (never used them before but first one to call back) came out earlier that Thursday--blew the clogged overflow main line--told us that the secondary overflow line was not even connected and that the drain pan was the wrong size/shape for our box coil--the unit was replaced in 03 for larger one and they probably did not change out the pan for the right one--company that installed had been back several times to service/do inspections and did not say anything or find the un-connected secondary line...the insurace company said that since so much time had elapsed after installation that it was too problamatic to prove fault on part of the AC installer--since other companies HAD been in as well...

We ran the AC the first night to help with humidity since drain was open and it was working ok--no freon leak or anything...but the guy could not re-attach the pan.

But once they opened the walls and ceilings up, and not being IN the house all the time--we did not feel comfortable running the AC until the problem is fixed.

(We considered using attorney to discuss the situation with the AC company that did the installation of current unit...and created at least part of the problem but my husband said it would probably cost as much as just to fix the problem.)

It is creating a problem if we are not using the AC and have the house closed up? We open the windows when we are there but won't leave them open all the time so it gets hot in there--especially the one room we have upstairs.

This is DFW TX area and we have been having 100+ days.

We have been waiting for the ins claims agent to view the damage and the insurance company has been sort of confused about if we needed an agent to come out or not but he is coming this morning.

Do we need electrician to check the wiring in the attic for the ceiling fixtures in rooms with quite a bit of water damage or wall plugs on affected walls? We used ceiling lights in rooms with water damage--did not even think not to frankly--since they did all their cleanup when it was dark...

If the water was dried out quickly once leak was discovered, do we need to worry about mold...

the remediation company checked walls and carpets in surrounding area and found damp carpet in some areas that did not feel wet--so I think they did pretty good job of checking....

we don't have wood floors--tile or carpet on cement slab. But there is a wood linen closet with raised wood floor between the hall and the utility room--should that wood be taken up to make sure it is dry? The tiled wall in shower/bath area did not show moisture when they checked it that first night--although there was some dampness in the carpet--so do we have to worry about water being under the bathtub there?

any suggestions/comments appreciated.

We are required to disclose this water leak situation when we put the house up for sale and we do want to make sure there are no continuing problems...is something like this going to be a real issue for people who might view/want to buy?

I guess now I am really depressed about putting it on the market...

any suggestions/comments for how to make sure this damage is treated properly?

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unless someone is going to the house on a regular basis i would not evne waste money keeping it cool.

as far as teh water damage goes, if teh remidiation company gave you the all clear then you should be fine. just a brief note that the AC leaked when no one was there and these steps were taken to fix it.

as far as going after the installers, that was 6 years ago. can you prove that no one has disconnected the drain in that time? cause i bet that is what they say. they did the job correctly and you had someone else in at some point and they messed it up. it is he said/she said.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 1:03PM
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Until you can get the AC up and running I would rent a high powered dehumidifer.

The statute of limitations may have passed at this point, but an attorney in your area could tell you.

The AC should be installed with a pan, drain (into you wastewater or house drainage system) and a float shutoff on the pan. That last piece shuts the AC off if the drain isn't working and water is too high in the pan.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 12:31AM
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we got the appraiser's work up on the work to repair the damages....
one of the items on his list is about scraping acoustic off ceiling in utility room--where there was water damage--and repairing it...
he calls that "asbestos-acoustic" and then does not include money to haul it off--with the other damaged materials...

first--to my knowledge there is no asbestos in the acoustic--the house was built in 82 or 83
second--he did not take any sample for testing to determine acoustic
third--was this just a mistake made when selecting out of his software
fourth--do we need to call and get this clarified--I think it is a simple mistake on his part but if it is not cleared up and someone asked for the insurance claim history on the house that info would be on the report

he also told me they would pay to replace light fixtures in the wet ceilings--yet he only allowed cost to remove and rehang--but they have water scum inside them--and frankly I would feel safer if they were replaced altogether

he is allowing for only one paint coat of the baseboards that have to be replaced and not repainting all baseboards in the rooms affected
and I think he is only allowing to repaint the walls that were damaged and not all the walls in each room--but the paint color won't match because of age of other paint if only one wall is repainted...

in the hall where closet door jamb has water damage and needs to be sanded/repainted--there are 4 other door jams--not damaged by water--but the same paint/age---what about that--won't that door jam look different...

not trying to get to the ins company but don't want less than what is appropriate
he knows that we are in the middle of doing refurbishing to get house ready for sale so I don't know if he did the minimum he could get by with or if that is standard practice...

going to ask the contract we got bid for doing the remodel work about the appraiser's cost estimates as well but he was estimating for more than just the water damage...

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 9:42AM
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If the house was built in 1982, there is no asbestos in it. That stuff is just ordinary popcorn ceiling material. Assuming that the underlying drywall is OK, you can fix that yourself by wetting it, scraping it off, sanding, and painting. Popcorn ceilings are unfashionable today anyway, and they are a big source of dust.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 3:11PM
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"The AC should be installed with a pan, drain (into you wastewater or house drainage system) and a float shutoff on the pan. That last piece shuts the AC off if the drain isn't working and water is too high in the pan."

Cheap installation method, and not compliant in many places.

There is supposed to be a backup pan that drains to a readily visible location using a separate drain line.

I usually route them to over an exterior door in the soffit so any water would be very visible and apparent.

Using a float switch to kill the system is a cheap way around running the second drain line.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 4:51PM
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We are dealing with an issue similar to this one, only the HVAC closet is on the ground floor - the lines were cloged and the emergency line was also not working. The water not only backed up to the pan, but also drained into the pedestal box and one of the HVAC lines that hung below the unit.

In our experience, it is never a good thing to have the AC off. Regardless of how dry it seems, mold can grow in humid areas. I would recommed you get the pan installed and have your HVAC guy out to keep it running. In the meantime, I agree with another posting on getting the dehumidifier in.

Regarding the insurance company. They are basically trying to save the company money only and do not have your best interest at heart. I haven't heard of any insurance company painting whole rooms or casing not damaged by the incident. In your case, it might be better just to either do the rest yourself or have whomever painting finish the rest - via an additional quote - so you know exactly what they want to charge. I hope you get good sincere workers in there.

On another note, the home we are working on also had window leaks. Everything went unchecked and the maintenance person that did painting and caulking simply covered and filled rot up. The house now has primary and secondary termite colonies, not something to take lightely and a true lesson for the absentee owners (vacation home).

I would seriously think about visiting your vacant home periodically - make sure your windows are not leaking, weather stripping on doors is in good shape, your HVAC will need monitoring. You will also want to think about a few other things. When a house is vacant, the sewer line does not get flushed out - there's a trap (elbow) at each fixture - sink, toilet, tub, etc. I believe this would be the case with your own septic system, so please ignore if you are on some city or county sytem (unless someone corrects me there). To continue, your best bet is to flush the toilets and run water in your sinks and tubs - not for long, just a few seconds. It just simply puts water back in the elbow, preventing sewer gases from coming into the house.

Prevention can go along way. As they say, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"

Good luck, I hope you can sell. Remember curb appeal also - make sure the yard is taken care of - it does go along way and when someone stops by if they see its taken care of outside, they will assume it has been inside. Small details will also get noticed. Go room by room and just check small details, do cabinet and regular doors hang and shut correctly, what about drawers - these are things that people will look at, minor yes but if they can't pull apart your house, it may satisfy them with what they see first hand.

Another HVAC tip - even though the house is not getting used, make sure to change the filters. You could get the reusable ones or just use the paper ones. At our house we purchased reusable and vacum and then rinse the extra dust out (they have a plastic frame with washable screen).

Check around the perimiter of your home outside also - keep it clear. If there's a moisture issue, try and get it diverted or fixed, termites love moisture.

Well, hopefully I have been helpful. - Rachael

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 10:09AM
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I didn't want the second drain line. I have white cedar shingles and it would have been unsightly.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2009 at 12:52PM
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"I didn't want the second drain line. I have white cedar shingles and it would have been unsightly."

The line ends i the soffit and is not normally visible from the outside, except maybe in an open soffit as a small line coming through the blocking between the rafters.

It does not need to go to the ground since nothing should come out of it unless there is a clog in the primary drain and condensate gets into the backup pan.

By putting it over a door any water gets noticed immediately so repairs to the primary drain can be made.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 2:00PM
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