Water in duct work....slab foundation

I purchased a home in Maryland 6 months ago. During a heavy rainfall, I happened to glance into one of the air ducts and saw about 2-3 inches of water. These houses are about 40 yrs old and built on concrete slab. I have had 4 or 5 different people out here and no one can tell me for sure what to do. The waterproofing company suggested a 20k trench to be dug around the home. The HVAC people said to cap the vents and run the ac in the ceiling. (this is a two story home). The other HVAC guy said he would dig up my floors and find the leaking pipes. The other two guys said that they would just "live with it". Please tell me is if you know of ANYTHING else to try. Thank you!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com writes:

Howdy Diego,
Sorry to hear of your problem. That sucks!
I'm also sorry to see you've met alt.hvac's pair of village idiots. Perhaps you, like many others that came before you, actually assumed this would be a place to get reasonable hvac advice. Sadly they're long on quips and short on helpfulness (among other things, at least so say the ladies).
The alt.home.repair newsgroup has a broader spectrum of folks, a higher percentage of helpful ones, and a much lower percentage of completely unhelpful 'tards. I've added that group to the distribution on this message and set followups to alt.home.repair.
Can you describe the grading around your home? Do you have positive slope away from the house? If not, a properly constructed swale around the house will certainly help water penetration during a heavy rain, but on a slab, that does seem like a hell of a lot of work to do when you aren't protecting a basement. Of course, it's no shock the waterproofing company quoted you on the only work they know how to do. :-) The overhead re-routing of the vents seems like an inventive workaround, but for the heating season at least, having the vents on the floor would likely give you more comfort. And god knows what it'd take or if it's even possible to get a larger duct trunk up to the first floor ceiling to cover the whole house's heating/cooling load.
How often does this water penetration happen? If it's infrequent enough to be mitigated with a shopvac I'd be tempted to go that route absent any better ideas. Though I'd also be worried about the ductwork rusting out entombed in a thick layer of concrete.
I might also have a few more foundation specialist types out for their thoughts and other quotes on improving drainage away from your foundation that won't cost $20,000. Of course I'd first make sure my downspouts nad gutters are doin their thing and downspout extenders are being used to get that water well away from the foundation.
A photo of the home that shows some of the grading situation may be helpful too for folks to toss out suggestions.
Good luck!
Best Regards, -- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /
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On 03 Oct 2006 10:11:58 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@toddh.net (Todd H.) wrote:

Bravo, Todd! All your engineering specialty (oh yeah, lets dont forget about that computer expert background) and your answer is a shop vac! Your a genius, man! Pure genius! Im glad to see you've ruled out that $20,000 bid without even knowing the company nor even seeing the house or the actual problem. Now, before you go off on your next tangent of: "well at least I tried to help the poster..........." It works like this: Im not a foundation expert and I cant see the job from here (even with my crystal ball set on "high"). To the poster: Get 3 estimates and stop listening to"dickless wannabees" like Todd that have no more expertise on the subject than I do on performing brain surgery on him. Bubba
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One of many options, I offered Bubster, with the key being absent any better ideas, which have yet to come to light.

Hey, my pleasure. We are on usenet after all.

Excellent! See, we're making real progress.
So just say so in your original reply to folks. Is it really that hard? But nah, you're Bubba. You can't start off from a helpful bent and admit what you don't know or say what more info is needed--nah, it's a lot easier to fire off knee jerk quips rather than be constructive. After all it's cooler to your kinship with Pauly right? It would be uncool to constructively say what more you'd need to know to hazard possibilities of solutions in similar situations based on your vast experience.

But he has already. But, this is at least helpful.

Yup, this ain't my area of expertise. But Bubby, I did also say to get more folks out there to look at the situation but you stopped reading after the first sentence or two. Tsk tsk.
But I'm so glad I was able to actually solicit something helpful out of you indicating that it'd be something you'd have to see to hazard a guess on.
Oh, our time is up. See you same time next week for our session. God bless Bubba.
-- Todd H. http://www.toddh.net /
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That is a very sad situation, but it happens frequently. I would never buy a home with that ductwork setup, seen too many with water in them! - udarrell
--
Air Conditioning\'s Affordable Path to the "Human Comfort Zone Goal"
http://www.udarrell.com/airconditioning_eer_ratings_over_seer_ratings_central_systems.html
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You might first want to determine as best you can just how bad your problem is.
Insofar as you can, get the water out of the ducts and then WATCH carefully (taking notes) as to how soon and how much water comes back. Your note taking should include date and the rain amounts and how damp the soil seems to be around your place.
You might find that just about ALL the water enters from one place. It might be worthwhile to dig up the concrete there.
Of course, the "usual suspects" are high water table and surface and roof runoff water not being diverted around your property properly.
The second suspect could be condensate water from your air handler. Finally, you might have a old fashion water leak.
In any case your first step is to dry out the duct and get a general idea where the water is coming from. The water will collect in the low spot but it could come from anywhere. Once the system is dry you might put down some small pieces of paper towel with a weight over each piece to act as a "tell tale" on the bottom of the duct as far in as you can reach from the vents. These might give you some information about WHERE the waters is coming from if your first inspection doesn't reveal anything.
Lowering the local water table is a good idea regardless but until your investigation is complete you can't be sure it will solve your problem.
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Yeah, right. Alt.Homo.Repair is OK if you like to hear from a bunch of wanna-be Tim Taylors who take more pride in trying to be "helpful" than in excellence in home repair.
I guess if it feels good to you to, then knock yourself out.
As for alt.hvac: Just because you don't understand all the "professional language" doesn't mean you can't learn something if you aren't such a whiny prick.
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Oscar_Lives posted for all of us...

I didn't think I was whiny...
--
Tekkie "There\'s no such thing as a tool I don\'t need."

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