mystery water in ceiling

All water pipes in my two story house are under the first floor and in the first floor walls to the height needed to supply water to faucets in kitche n and bathrooms in the first floor. This morning when in bathroom (first f loor) water dripped on my head; I looked up and the ceiling around the air duct for heat and A/C was soaking wet as was the metal vent itself. The in side component of the heat pump is on the second floor in crawl space. The drain pipe for condensation from it is between first and second floor. Pr oblem does not exist in any other ceiling vent area. What could be going o n?
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On Friday, August 9, 2013 2:45:49 AM UTC-7, Frank Thompson wrote:

hen and bathrooms in the first floor. This morning when in bathroom (first floor) water dripped on my head; I looked up and the ceiling around the ai r duct for heat and A/C was soaking wet as was the metal vent itself. The inside component of the heat pump is on the second floor in crawl space. T he drain pipe for condensation from it is between first and second floor. Problem does not exist in any other ceiling vent area. What could be going on?
Is the surface area of the duct insulated to keep it from being in contact with warm air which would lead to formation of condensation?
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On Friday, August 9, 2013 6:14:35 AM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Yes... further investigation (too early in morning to reach my hvac man) revealed source of water is main unit itself. Pan under it for condensate is not filled with water (has small amt in it)& its drain pipe does not appear to be stopped up. Significant water is on sheathing under unit & appears to be coming from unit from opposite side from access point where I cannot get to it.
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On Friday, August 9, 2013 6:47:04 AM UTC-4, Frank Thompson wrote:

How do you know the drain pipe is not stopped up? If it's working normally, there should not be water in the pan. The water should be flowing out of a pipe connected to the bottom of the evaporator. If the pipe gets clogged, then the pan is supposed to catch the overflow as a backup. Where does the pipe go? Did you verify that water is flowing out of it?
As others have said, it could be either a blocked condensate drain or it could be a condensation problem with warm humid air hitting a cold part of the unit or ducts. If it's been OK for a long time, that would suggest that it's a condensate drain problem.

Funny how it usually works out that way. And I'm guessing that it was installed so the condensate drain is on that inaccessible side. Hopefully there is some way to get there.....
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downward through the sheathing all the way down to crawlspace & then outward to outside of house
Did you verify that

yes... but not as much as I think it should but
HVAC repairman verified that it is not stopped up
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Frank Thompson wrote:

Just a wild guess. I don't know where you live but around here, the weather has been mild so the AC hasn't been running for days. Perhaps a mud wasp has taken up residence in the drain pipe. Pour some water in the pan and see if it drains.
--
Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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On 8/9/2013 4:45 AM, Frank Thompson wrote:

Is this something new? Yes? Then you have something that's recently broke.
Has it been raining? No? Then it's not a leaky roof that is migrating to this location. Yes? Then you have two things to check out.
No rain? New problem? A/C running like crazy to keep up with summer heat? The condensate drain line has somehow been compromised or perhaps the pan which drains into it. Another possibility could be the condensate line is plugged, causing the collection pan to overflow.
Remote possibility - your condensate pan may have a small pump to lift the water from pan and into the condensate drain line. IF that pump fails (and they do)...
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no
Then it's not a leaky roof that is migrating

no leak in roof
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You should call the plumber and check why water is coming from the ceiling because it will be dangerous so you should to repair as soon as possible.
--
hiltan


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Thank you, Tim. Your explanation sure helps me understand. What you are ca lling the main one is made of plastic. My number one contender to the sour ce of the problem is that the drain from it is clogged. HVAC person partia lly unclogged it on initial visit, but it is my belief that it is still par tially clogged. HVAC person suspects leak in it but I suspect drain is clo gged. Removal of pan is major task because section of rafter and knee wall supporting beam must be removed in order to replace it. The cover can be removed w/o removing section of beam. Is it possible to unclog the drain w/o removing pan. He has sent water up the drain from the exit of the drain outside the house and since then situation has improved, but it is still p artially clogged IMHO because some condensate is still draining into the me tal external pan (more into in it than the internal one).
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On Tuesday, August 13, 2013 6:19:15 AM UTC-4, Frank Thompson wrote:

urce of the problem is that the drain from it is clogged. HVAC person part ially unclogged it on initial visit, but it is my belief that it is still p artially clogged. HVAC person suspects leak in it but I suspect drain is c logged. Removal of pan is major task because section of rafter and knee wa ll supporting beam must be removed in order to replace it. The cover can b e removed w/o removing section of beam. Is it possible to unclog the drai n w/o removing pan. He has sent water up the drain from the exit of the dra in outside the house and since then situation has improved, but it is still partially clogged IMHO because some condensate is still draining into the metal external pan (more into in it than the internal one).
I think you mean there is more water draining out of the external pan than the internal one, not into it. ALL the condensate goes into the internal pan. If that pan is leaking or blocked, then some or all of it goes into the external pan. Usually there is a backup drain on the internal pan, at a slightly higher level, that can serve as a secondary backup drain. Even if the pan has one, it might not be connected. If it is connected, it's typically routed someplace where while the water won't do damage, it may be observed so you know something is wrong.
It sounds like the one in question is installed in a really bad way so that you can't get to critical areas. Sometimes there may be no choice, do to logistics. But usually there is enough freedom, eg the coil can be oriented two different ways, air handler oriented differently, located in different spot, etc so that you don't wind up with this kind of problem. But a lot of installers do what is fast, cheap, etc without regard to future servicing issues.
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Yes, it is often possible to unclog a drain. The three approaches, are to either blow it out with pressure, vacuum it out with a shop vac, or pour chemicals or hot water through to loosen the buildup.
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
On 8/13/2013 6:19 AM, Frank Thompson wrote: Thank you, Tim. Your explanation sure helps me understand. What you are calling the main one is made of plastic. My number one contender to the source of the problem is that the drain from it is clogged. HVAC person partially unclogged it on initial visit, but it is my belief that it is still partially clogged. HVAC person suspects leak in it but I suspect drain is clogged. Removal of pan is major task because section of rafter and knee wall supporting beam must be removed in order to replace it. The cover can be removed w/o removing section of beam. Is it possible to unclog the drain w/o removing pan. He has sent water up the drain from the exit of the drain outside the house and since then situation has improved, but it is still partially clogged IMHO because some condensate is still draining into the metal external pan (more into in it than the internal one).

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On 8/13/2013 6:19 AM, Frank Thompson wrote:

If water is still leaking from the internal pan into the external pan after the internal pan's drain has been cleaned, and no one can detect a crack or corrosion hole in the internal pan, it suggests that perhaps some rafter may have settled (only has to be a degree or two of tilt) so that cold condensate remains as a shallow puddle at the bottom of the internal pan, sufficiently cooling the bottom (downward facing) surface of the internal pan to cause water vapor in the hot, humid attic air to condense on the bottom surface of the internal pan and fall into the secondary pan. You could test that theory by placing a small amount of water soluble food coloring dye into internal pan and noting whether the water collecting in the external pan has that color. If the water is colored, you have drainage/leakage from the internal pan. If the water is clear, you are seeing atmospheric condensate in the external pan because of puddling of cold condensate in the internal pan that is not being drained off properly. So, if the water in the external pan is clear, I would try to slightly angle the air handler (just a few degrees) toward the drain, perhaps with a small shim to improve flow towards the drain tube.
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On Tuesday, August 13, 2013 9:23:38 AM UTC-4, Peter wrote:

Brilliant idea, definitely worth trying.
The caveat I have is that the external pan really shouldn't drain into the house either. But it very well might.
On my system, there is a float switch that shuts off the air handler if the external pan fills. That alerts me to a clogged drain before the damage is too bad. In theory anyway, so far no clogs.
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On Tuesday, August 13, 2013 9:23:38 AM UTC-4, Peter wrote:

They can't detect it or investigate it because it appears to be virtually inaccessible.
it suggests that perhaps

The condensate "pan" is normally part of a coil unit that is encased. The thing is typically insulated. And it's basically inside the plenum and right next to the coils. Whatever temp it is, it's going to be with or without a little more or less condensate in the pan.
Now if something has settled so much that the unit is not flat or pitched slightly toward the drain, then water could be overflowing, but that would take a lot of pitch in the wrong direction.
You could test that theory by placing a small amount of

The whole cased coil unit is cold on the inside. It's insulated, or should be. If it's not insulated, then you can have condensation on the outside regardless of whether there is 1/4" of extra water or not. The whole inside is cold, a little more water here or there doesn't matter.
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