Leaks & Overflows
The wet, warm environment of a condensate collector beneath a central air conditioner evaporator coil is a perfect algae breeding ground. This biological growth may migrate into the condensate drain line or the drain trap and form a blockage. Condensate overflow due to a blocked drain may be caught by an overflow pan beneath the air handler, but if the overflow pan is missing, or has cracked or developed a hole, or if the overflow pan’s drain line is plumbed to the same primary drain line that is clogged, water leakage will ensue. Property damage from unseen condensate leakage can be extensive and expensive by the time a leak is finally noted by occupants.
A central air system routes condensation through a U-shaped trap located in the drain line just outside the air handler. It’s similar to the trap under your kitchen or bathroom sink; water in the trap prevents sewer gases originating where the condensate drain pipe terminates from infiltrating the air handler. In some conditions, such as during a long season of non-operation or when a gravity-fed drain line is not installed with the proper incline, the condensate drain trap may dry out and allow sewer gases to pass through the line. Unexplained noxious odors emitted from air conditioner supply vents in the home are the primary symptom of a dry condensate drain trap.
Because of the potential of severe property damage from unseen leaks, many condensate drain systems incorporate an overflow sensor. When a clogged condensate drain causes a backup that reaches overflow stage, the sensor cuts off power to the system. The coil and collector are sealed inside the air handler and generally not accessible for a do-it-yourself project. Until an HVAC technician can arrive to open the air handler, unblock the drain line, and clear the pan, the air conditioner will be unusable.
Mold is the common name of many types of fungi and funguslike protists; the fuzzy growths these organisms form are also called molds. The growths consist of numerous individual molds growing in colonies. Some molds are saprophytes; they live on dead organisms such as decaying plants or animals and on nonliving organic substances such as food, paper, and fabrics. Other molds are parasites; they obtain nourishment from a live host.
Molds have many harmful effects. For example, molds often grow on breads, pastries, jellies, and dairy products. They can damage stored grain, fruit and vegetables, and livestock feed, thereby causing serious financial loss to farmers. They can also cause diseases, such as gray mold, in garden plants. Athlete’s foot as well as other types of ringworm are skin diseases caused by parasitic molds. Mold growth is prevented by maintaining dry, airy surroundings; by heat-radiation techniques in the processing of food; and by using fungicides.
Molds, however, also have many beneficial effects. They are instrumental in the decay of dead things, thereby aiding in the elimination of debris. Molds are the source of such antibiotics as penicillin. Molds are used in making such cheeses as Roquefort and Camembert and in the commercial production of such biochemicals as enzymes and hormones.
Here’s a set of photos showing heavy growth in a residential property in Bucks County Pa. The room sustained heavy water damage and mold that was and over a quarter inch thick. As you can see from the photos, we always like to show how we clean prior to any encapsulation instead of seeing photos showing mold and then the same surface just painted in white.
Pipes, water heaters and other appliances can break and leak. In freezing weather, pipes can freeze and both plastic (PVC) and copper pipes can burst, causing major damage in a home left unattended.
Preventing Water Damage When Leaving Your Home Unattended
- Close and lock all doors, windows, skylights and vents to keep out wind and wind-driven rain
- In colder climates, don’t turn the thermostat off, instead leave it set to at least 55 degrees F.
If leaving for an extended period of time, the best protection is to shut the water off and drain water lines. In addition:
- Shut off the gas to the water heater (or the gas company can do this for you), or turn the temperature control to a vacation setting
- If your house has a water softener, shut off its supply line
If you choose to leave water service on, take the following precautions:
- Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic and especially in a garage or basement next to an outside wall during the winter
- Wrap heating tape or cables around water pipes to prevent pipes from freezing
- Turn off the water supply to individual fixtures like your washing machine, icemaker, toilets and sinks
- Consider installing an electronic leak detection system
- Don’t leave appliances (dishwasher, washing machine or dryer) running when you leave, and check to make sure toilets aren’t running
- Make sure the sump pump is working, especially in late winter or early spring when melting snow or heavy rain increases the risk of basement flooding
By following these items, you can avoid what can potentially amount to tens of thousands of dollars in damages to your property. If damage should occur, we’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days week. Call our office or visit our site at http://biowashing.com
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