Floor vents are a common thing in all houses. It allows sufficient air circulation in your house and prevents suffocation. But, what will you do if water gets into your floor vents? Are you unaware of the results and fixations?
If you notice any water seeping through the floor vents, it should be cleaned immediately; otherwise, it can develop mold and damage the vents. Clear the vent inside and out with a microfiber cloth or dry vacuum to fix the issue. Take precautions to prevent water from getting into your vents.
There are several causes behind water getting into your floor vents. This guide will give you detailed information about the causes of the problem, the issues you might face, some quick fixes, and some preventive measures.
What are the possible causes of water getting into the floor vents?
The most common reason behind water getting into the vents is leakage or water spilling from fixtures like water pipes or leaking roofs.
However, there are multiple other reasons.
Below is the list of reasons behind water getting into the floor vents:
If you live in a flood-prone zone, where water enters your home and floods the floor, the water will no doubt get into the floor vent.
You can’t blame yourself or anyone else in this case because this situation is a natural calamity.
Even if you get rid of the water now, some standing water will remain.
The vent will get filled with water if a flood occurs again.
Clogged condensation drain
Temperature differences or changes in the airflow causes due to dirty air filters and condensation drains.
The air gets trapped in the dirty air filter instead of circulating.
The change creates a situation where the evaporator coil will freeze and form frost.
Once the frost melts, the water will get released into the vent.
If the insulation is not good, the air ducts will create issues and flood the floor vents.
If the ducts do not have proper seals, it will create troubles with flexible airflow.
It will further lead to water accumulation in the vents through condensation.
Groundwater seepage in the foundation slabs of houses is a common thing to see.
But, sometimes, the water from the rains or nearby water bodies can flow and seep through the ground and under your floor.
It will then flood your floor vents.
Leakage and spills
Leaks and spills from pipes are another common cause of water getting into your floor vents.
Once the leakage occurs, water will spill over the floor, overflow, and enter your floor vents.
What happens if water gets into the floor vents?
If water gets into the floor vents for a very long time and stays for a long time, serious issues will arise.
Molds and mildews
When water stays in the vents as a standby for a long time, molds and mildew will make their way to the damp vents.
Damp areas are a dream place for molds, mildews, and other fungal microorganisms.
If you don’t fix the problem even after the molds and mildew, you will get affected by respiratory issues.
When molds and mildews occur in your floor vents, they will block the vent and contaminate the breathing air of your house.
Breathing such polluted air will cause respiratory issues and other health problems.
Reduced efficiency of HVAC system
If the moisture remains trapped in the vent, it will reduce the ability of the HVAC system and prevent it from working well.
It damages the vent’s mechanism from the inside.
As a result, you will feel hotter inside the room because the vent can’t help with proper ventilation.
How to get the water out of the floor vent?
When you find out that the floor vent is not working well, check if there is any water accumulation.
Instead of waiting for any signs of the problems, you should check your floor vents from time to time to prevent the issues, especially molds and mildews.
Below, I have shared the steps and materials required while removing the water from the vent.
Things required for cleaning the water from the vent:
- Mop and bucket
- Headlight or torch
- A shop vac
- Antiseptic spray
- Dehumidifier, fan, or dry vacuum
- Insulation products
Steps to remove the water
Here is a step-by-step guide to removing the water:
1. First, understand the source of water.
Before you take steps to remove the water, you must know where the water is entering your vents, like sewage, broken pipe, rainwater, flood, or overflowing sink.
Call the professional to fix the issue if it is the sewage water.
The sewage water has bad microorganisms.
Also, check for how long the water has been inside your vent.
If there is a foul smell, the water stays for a long time.
If the water comes from the burst sink drain and you want to deal with it yourself, wear gloves, goggles, and proper dress, like long-sleeved shirts and pants.
2. Remove the furniture or other things near the vent.
It would help if you cleared the vent inside out.
So, you must remove the furniture and other materials near the vent for now.
It will prevent the materials from getting damaged due to water.
Once you are done cleaning, keep them back in their place.
3. Switch off the main or HVAC switch
Before you start the work, do not forget to switch off the HVAC system.
If you cannot find the switch, turn off your main and start working.
4. Remove the vent cover
Now, time to clean.
Remove the cover to check how much water has gone inside the vent.
It will let you know which materials you require for cleaning them.
If the water amount is small, you can do it yourself.
If the amount of water is huge, you may need a professional.
5. Remove the water
Use the shop vac to collect the water from the vent.
The mop and bucket will help decrease the water the shop vac will collect.
The shop vac will remove all the water if there is not a huge amount of water.
If you cannot reach all the corners, a long mop will help you do it.
Or, you can lift some floorboards to unscrew the duct and reach every vent corner.
Be careful while cleaning.
Make sure you do not loosen any screws while cleaning.
Otherwise, more will spread into the insulation.
However, if there is too much water, the water will reach the insulation.
If there is little water, clean it carefully.
Also, remove and clean the water around the vent outside.
Both the inside and outside should be clean and dry.
6. Dry the vents
Use a dry vacuum, fan, or dehumidifier to dry the vents.
If the water has spread everywhere, drying up the vents with a fan or dehumidifier is essential. You might require more than one fan to dry it out.
Do not forget the outside areas of the vents.
7. Check the insulation damage
If the water has stayed for a long time in the vents, you might need to check the insulation for signs of damage.
See whether the condition and shape are better or not.
If not, you must replace it with a new one.
8. Spray some antiseptics
Since water accumulation for a long time can invite various fungal microorganisms, spraying some fungal antiseptics in the vent will keep them at bay.
If you are unsure about it, call professionals to do the whole job.
They will do it much better than you can.
What to do after removing the water from the floor vents?
Once the cleaning is done, you need to do certain things again.
These are the post-removal steps.
What to do with the wet insulation?
After you are done cleaning and drying the vents and floor ducts, inspect the condition of the insulation that leads to the air vents on the floor.
Remove the wet insulation and replace it with a dry one.
Wet insulation is a great place for molds and mildews.
Inspect the vents for sealing
When you clean the vents, you will need to open some floorboards.
After you are done cleaning and drying, make sure you have closed and sealed them properly.
Besides, thorough cleaning and drying can loosen the seals.
So, check if there has been any loosening or leaks and replace it immediately.
Inspect the floors
Moisture around the floor vents and over-the-top layers can invite molds, mildews, and several other fungal microorganisms.
So, clean the floors along with the vents to avoid such conditions.
Check the boards and clean the area if there has been any moisture around.
Clean the carpets if you have them near your floor vents.
If they get wet, dry them outside for some time and then keep them near the vents.
It is better to remove them before you start working in the vents.
Check the vent cover
Before you put the vent covers back, let them dry properly.
Also, check the screw areas and holes.
It might hold slight moisture even after you clean them.
If the areas are not dried properly, the holes may have rust.
So, check the areas and dry them well before putting them back.
How to prevent water from getting into the floor vent?
After you are done cleaning, you would now want to control such situations from happening again.
Repeated water accumulation in the vents can damage the vent and the insulation also.
Preventing the water from reaching the floor vents can keep your vent in good condition for a long time.
To stop water from getting into the vents, follow the following steps:
Fix the leaky roofs and pipes
Water leakages and spills are common reasons water gets into the vents.
To prevent it, you must fix the leaky roofs and pipes.
Check their conditions and fix them immediately if they have any faults.
Check the drains
Check the drains to see if there are any blockages. Clean them the moment you notice it.
The drains of the rooms, especially where the floor vent is present, should remain clean and clear of blockages.
Clean drains will prevent the water from accumulating and entering the vents.
Check some appliances
A lot of appliances use pipes that are directly connected to the drain.
The drains must be clear to prevent blockages and overflowing to the floor vents.
Make sure you do not keep anything in the appliances that can be responsible for the drain blockages, for example, paper towels, food, etc.
Check the groundwater seepage.
Groundwater seepage enters through cracks, especially during heavy rains.
It can make the water get into the floor vents.
When the water accumulates too much, it fails to escape and pushes its way to the ground and foundation.
An excessive water force can crack the foundation by building pressure and getting into the vents.
Clean your vents and then call a professional to fix things and prevent the condition from recurrence.
Seal the unused floor vent ducts
If any floor vents are not in use, cover them immediately.
Otherwise, the air filters will get filled with dirt, clog the condensation drain, and freeze them.
So, covering them when they are not in use is much better.
Clean the ducts
The condensed air inside the ducts can build moisture, thus entering the floor vents.
So, call a professional from time to time to clean the ducts and avoid such conditions.
Important things to consider:
Two tips might help prevent the water from getting into your floor vents.
- Always fix the leakages immediately after you get to know about them. As it is one of the most common reasons behind water getting into the floor vents, fixing this problem from the initial stage allows you to keep your vents safe from many issues.
- Although you can do things yourself with enough experience, it is better to call a professional for such work. They can properly clean your vents, adjust the sealings and screws, and make the floor vents like new ones. You will need one if the water has come through sewage water.
Water getting into the floor vents can be due to various reasons like leakages, water spills, broken pipes, floods, etc. Though there are many reasons, leakages are the common ones. So, whenever you find any pipes, roofs, or anything leaking water, fix it soon.
Always remove the water, and clean every possible vent corner, including the insulation, the screw holes, and everything. Use a long mop if you cannot reach the corners.
Do not forget to switch off the HVAC system or the main switch whenever you clear the water. Always wear gloves and goggles before dealing with these issues to prevent contamination.
Though you can do this yourself, it is better to consult professionals if the work is more. They will take all the required steps with proper care and maintenance.
Reference: HVAC, Duct Flow, ScienceDirect Research Paper, HVAC System Research, Florida’s Premier Energy Research Cente.