Be on the Alert for Potential HVAC System Water Damage

Water damage from your HVAC system can be one of the most quickly destructive and potentially costly problems but, with reliable professional help, it is also one of the simplest and most straightforward concerns to correct. Ideally, it’s recommended that a homeowner be alert to the possible origins of water damage with any HVAC system, in order to stay on top of prevention before problems can occur.

Where Does HVAC System Water Damage Originate?

  • First and foremost is an overflowing collection pan. This is installed in an HVAC system to catch water that condenses on the cooling core and runs or drips down. The water then evaporates from the pan or runs off through a drain tube to a safe outlet.

  • A second reason can be a collection pan that is leaking due to corrosion.

  • Third can be a disconnection or break in the drain tube leading from the collection pan.

  • Cooling units require proper defrosting of cooling coils. An electronically controlled defrost routine is built into modern HVAC system units. If the cooling coils become fouled or the automatic defrosting circuit malfunctions, too much condensation can build up and consequent runoff can overflow the collection pan.

  • Fouled, damaged or failing equipment can cause inefficient defrosting and excess condensation during extremes of weather and high humidity


Consequences of Water Damage from an HVAC System

Possible damages can be way out of proportion to their causes. Simple neglect and failure to periodically check, clean and service the equipment, especially over an extended period, can result in serious damage. Combine with any existing system malfunctions and you have a disastrous recipe that can lead to:

  • Water stains on ceilings and walls

  • Hidden rotting of structural members, floors, walls, ceilings, etc.

  • Sagging, distortion and even major failure of structural members, walls, ceilings or floors

  • Hazardous mold growth

  • Adverse health effects due to mold and contamination

  • Distracting and unpleasant odors

  • Damage to carpets, furniture and even lighting and other electrical services

  • Damage or destruction of electronic equipment

  • Financial loss from extensive repairs, replacement costs, loss of use of home and attendant expenses

  • Loss of files, photo albums or irreplaceable collectibles.

Handling the Possibility of HVAC System Water Damage

There are a number of simple steps a homeowner can take to prevent the above problems, including:

  • Regularly check that condensation pan is not overflowing or leaking.

  • If there is a runoff tube, ensure that it is properly connected, undamaged and unobstructed.

  • Check to see that the HVAC unit and coils are not becoming fouled and dirty and do a light cleaning, if possible.

  • Be alert to any non-optimum conditions, such as strange odors, presence of standing water, water stains and mold. Though likely already beyond escaping some consequences, being alert to indicators might prevent more drastic issues.

HVAC System Specialists See Things Through


A resident or homeowner should be aware that the efforts described above are only partial steps. Optimum action is to have a trained and competent HVAC system technician perform a complete service and inspection. This includes checking electronic defrost circuits along with other parts of the system. Less than optimum HVAC system conditions should be corrected as soon as possible by properly trained experts.

Good HVAC service companies may offer seasonal discounts or coupons and provide special rates for customers who sign up for regular service programs. Minimally, service should occur prior to the arrival of hot weather and again before cooler weather sets in.

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