Structural Issues Due To Leaking HVAC Units
Leaking interior HVAC units can cause massive headaches for property owners, but they can also cause significant structural damage if they are not repaired promptly. Interior HVAC units can leak for numerous reasons, including clogged or disconnected condensation drain lines, poorly maintained filters, and low refrigerant levels causing condensate lines to freeze and thaw. While disregarding a leaking HVAC unit could lead to further issues with the unit, it could also cause damage to structural elements supporting the floor and HVAC unit as well. Both wood and concrete structural slab systems are susceptible to long term moisture exposure, and as the moisture exposure continues for prolonged periods of time, the damage caused by this leaking water could grow exponentially.
In some cases, HVAC units maybe located on the floor above a crawlspace causing the structural damages caused by these leaks to go unnoticed until intensive investigations are performed. The accompanying picture shows heavily deteriorated wood subfloor and floor joists below an HVAC unit that had been leaking for a prolonged period of time. A larger area of the subfloor had to be complete replaced, and the joist themselves had to be strengthened with supplemental joists to ensure that the floor was structurally stable. Placement of a drainage pan with a “wet switch” can help catch a leak right as its starting, and regular cleaning of the drain lines helps prevent clogs caused by debris and dirt. Repairing a leaking HVAC may not only ensure that your building stays cool during the hot summer months, but also prevents costly, invasive repairs.