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Why is My Furnace Leaking Water? Fixes and Solutions

Why is My Furnace Leaking Water? Fixes and Solutions
Olivia Minnier
Content Writer

About This Article

In this article, we explore why your furnace could leak water as well as some solutions, reasons, and when to call an HVAC technician.

You come back from vacation, come home from work one day or run errands to find that your furnace is leaking water. What could be the cause? Especially if your unit appeared to be running fine before the incident, you may not know what could have caused it.

At Fire & Ice, we understand that discovering the source of a problem such as a furnace leak isn’t always easy. However, we have helped customers thousands of times with similar issues and are committed to helping you with yours.

What Does a Furnace Leak Look Like?

Under normal circumstances, a furnace does not leak water. However, this could happen due to a number of issues, such as a tilted drain pipe, a faulty humidifier, or other problems that can cause water to pool underneath your furnace.

Here are some frequent causes of water that you’ve found under or near your furnace.

Causes of Water Pooling Under or Around Furnace

  • Water Condensation
  • Furnace Humidifier Problem
  • Air Conditioner Drain Clogged
  • Broken Heat Exchanger
  • Frozen Coils

Water Condensation

Water condensation can pool if it is not getting exhausted from your furnace. This could be what is happening to your furnace. If you see this, call an HVAC professional for maintenance on your system.

Furnace Humidifier Problem

Furnace leaks are sometimes related to humidifier issues. The humidifiers draw water from the plumbing of your home and adds it to your furnace’s air. The leaking could indicate that you have a loose pipe or a different issue that is causing water to build up.

When your humidifier is leaking into your furnace, it can also be leaking dirty air into your furnace that could be going into your home, which means mold and bacteria.

Air Conditioner Drain Clogged

Another cause of the leak could be that your air conditioner drain is clogged. If you can trace the leak to an internal pipe, that may be the source of the issue. It could be connected to your air conditioner and be clogged, broken, or malfunctioning. If you are able to identify that this is the issue, tell your HVAC professional and have them attend to your system before any corrosion happens.

Broken Heat Exchanger

A heat exchanger is a thin metal shield between the combustion chamber and the blower that transfers heat from the furnace to the air ducts and then through your home. If this becomes cracked, it can leak condensation. This is also a sign you probably need a complete furnace replacement.

This can also be hazardous and cause CO to leak through your vents. Noticeable cracks upon inspection, worn areas, strange smells, or water collecting around the furnace can all be signs of a cracked heat exchanger. If you have any of these, turn off your furnace and call a technician to prevent CO from leaking into your home.

Lastly, your furnace could be leaking due to coils that have frozen over.

Frozen Coils

Especially if your furnace leaks during the summer, the problem could be due to frozen air conditioner coils. This can occur due to a blocked filter, dirt, and debris on the coils themselves, a lack of airflow, or a refrigerant issue. If any of these occur, your coils will literally freeze over and can turn into a block of ice rather quickly until it is stopped. If this occurs on your unit, turn it off to help thaw the coils and call a technician.

Indoor Air Quality Issues From Water Pooling

Mold and bacteria can lead to poor indoor air quality or IAQ in your home. According to the EPA, the average American spends 90% of their life indoors. While moldy smells aren’t likely to cause serious health risks for most, the EPA’s report goes on to say that those who are most susceptible to indoor pollutants are also the most likely to spend even more time indoors.

While the effects generally aren’t life-threatening, they can certainly be debilitating. Effects of air pollutants can include the following:

  • Eye irritation
  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • General fatigue
  • Respiratory illnesses

Mold and bacteria won’t cause each of these for everyone, but the smell is undeniably annoying and noticeable, and the worst cases of it can indeed become health irritants.

As much as the health concerns, if you’re spending anywhere near 90% of your life indoors, it’s worth making sure that that time is as comfortable as possible.

This issue can also impact other aspects of your furnace. It can lead to your filter not working as effectively because you have mold pumped into your air, which will lead to an early replacement for your system. This cannot be overstated. Your filter will fill up faster, leading not only to more filter replacements, but your system will not work as efficiently if you do not address the problem.

How Does My Furnace Work?

If you have an electric furnace, In a few ways, it works a bit like a toaster. The heated coils act in much the same way, even glowing red when they’re hot. If there were an airstream flowing through your toaster, pushing the warm air into your home, you’d have a miniature electric furnace.

When the thermostat notices a difference between the indoor temperature and its settings, it will “call” for heat from the central heating system. The heating coils in the air handler will begin to warm up, and your blower fan will push the heat at a specific rate through your ductwork and into your home.

Once the desired temperature has been reached, the thermostat relays another signal to the system to shut down until the next call for heat.

How and Why Does My Furnace Produce Water?

But how and why does my furnace produce water anyway? Unlike in the past, most modern furnaces use water to create condensation. They use cooling exhaust to boost energy efficiency.

However, this all depends on the type of furnace you have.

Types of Furnaces

There are two types of furnaces: high efficiency and standard efficiency. High-efficiency furnaces will have condensation due to the second heat exchanger that a standard furnace does not have. Only a high-efficiency furnace will produce water. Meaning that if you have a water leak, you likely have a high-efficiency furnace.

Regular Maintenance Can Help Prevent Emergency Issues

Additionally, one of the best ways to prevent leaks and issues with your furnace is to have regular maintenance performed by an HVAC technician. At Fire & Ice, we recommend having each system tuned up once a year. Having your furnace tuned up in the fall and your air conditioner tuned up in the spring, before you will be heavily using either one, is a great way to check for issues and make sure things are running all season smoothly.

Maintenance Agreements Can Help Avoid Long Wait Times

At Fire & Ice, we also recommend a maintenance agreement for their system to our clients. A maintenance agreement can help keep your system in top shape and allows you to get ahead of issues before they become serious, like taking your car in for an oil change.

Maintenance Agreement Benefits

There are many benefits to maintenance agreements. At Fire & Ice, we offer our customers three different kinds of maintenance agreements.

For a complete list of services in our available maintenance agreements, check out our Services Page.

Rather than re-list information about our maintenance plans, we talk about a few critical aspects of the plans and how they can benefit you in your home.

Repair Warranty

Repair warranties for replacement parts sometimes last as little as 60 days from the manufacturer. With our three maintenance agreements extending this warranty to one, two, and three years, there’s peace of mind knowing that a repair wasn’t done just to collect a paycheck and get it running for a short while. If we aren’t confident the repair will last for years, we won’t do it, and you’re covered either way.

Lifetime Workmanship Guarantee

Guarantees like this are rare in the industry. Ours states the following:

“We guarantee the following items for the lifetime of the equipment against defects in materials or workmanship from the date the system is installed:

  • All ductwork we install
  • All ductwork insulation we install
  • Other items we install include sheet metal straps, clamps, fasteners, hangers, locks, drivers, drain piping, and fittings
  • All high-voltage electrical wiring, wire nuts, straps, ties, and connectors we install
  • All refrigerant piping we install (does not include the cost to gain access to underground or other inaccessible piping)
  • Refrigerant insulation we install
  • All equipment pads, stands, jacks, and vibration elimination devices we install

Proper maintenance is what allows us to offer this unique guarantee. The only requirement to keep this protection in force for the lifetime of the equipment is to renew your annual maintenance program when due.”

And if you think that these are empty words, I can again promise you that we’ve honored this agreement on those rare occasions when the work is done improperly. We pride ourselves on attention to detail, but no HVAC contractor is beyond fault. Having a guarantee like this is a protection for the customer.

No Overtime Fees

If a contractor is paid by the job, you risk them doing a quick, poor job simply to rush to the next one. But a homeowner might worry about extended jobs if they're paid hourly. Protections like this are designed to hold a repair technician accountable, keep a company responsible, and standardize customer costs.

Collective Energy Savings

Equipment tune-ups, free filter replacements, and evaporator or blower cleanings add up. All the reasons we discussed earlier apply to these everyday tasks, and guaranteeing that you’re having them done when they’re needed (often at a reduced cost) will benefit you over your system's life.

Don’t Wait To Avoid Future Furnace Maintenance Issues

At Fire & Ice, we understand your frustration and concern over issues like leaks. Feel free to call us with any additional questions you may have. Call us if you live in the Columbus, Ohio, area and are ready to take the next step. To check to see if you are within our service area, use the zip code map below.

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