What I'm Seeing Now


Follow The Clues

Older house, two-story ranch, where on one half the roof was raised, a third floor, with a perpendicular two-story addition, built off of one end.  The house is now L shaped.  The new section has no basement.

Outside there are two AC compressors.  That usually means one system is in the attic, but not always.

System two is speaking to me.  Follow the clues.

Clue #1 -

A tube is sticking out from the fascia under the soffit holding the roof.

The end is very rusty.

It's winter, so the AC system probably has not been used since last fall.

Under a system in the attic is a drip pan.

If the primary condensate line should clog, not uncommon in an attic, and can't discharge, the overflow would go into that drip pan.

The drip pan is usually connected to a drain pipe.

That drain pipe is usually drained outdoors, often over a window so any dripping can be seen.

If water is draining from the drip pan, it indicates that the primary line is clogged and needs attention.

Clue #2 -

Directly under the drain line above is this stain.

That could only be caused by a rusty drip.

And it just might be that said drip has been happening for some time!

A drip pan is not intended to be a long-term reservoir for water.

It is an emergency stop gap.

When water is seen dripping from the overflow tubing, one might want to pay attention to the primary condensate line at that unit!

In this case it appears that no such attention has been paid.

Alas.  That system must be really, really clogged!  And that pan must be really, really rusty!

Clue # 3 -

Once arriving at said attic HVAC system #2, it was apparent that the system was clogged!

And had been for a long time.

This system is only 3 years old.

Sometimes these systems that lay flat are not hooked up properly and either leak or the drain line opening cap is not removed.

And the system leaks entirely into the drip pan.

I don't know what to think about this one, not testing it today, but certainly it does not work and needs attention.

It could be that it has not worked from day one!

And yes, that is Tracpipe servicing the system!

My recommendation:  think logically!  Some things lead to other things.  Some clues are obvious and are easy to follow back to the source of the problem.  But follow!  Or hire a good home inspector.  He likes to follow things like this!



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 19 commentsJay Markanich • February 27 2012 02:40AM


Lots of clues there Jay.  Even I could have seen that one but I still would not know why but now I do. Enjoy the day

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 8 years ago

That's a lot of rust for a three year old pan!  I've gotta think your theory of the drain line cap not being removed has to be the problem.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 8 years ago

Jay ....Great points ...I will pay more attention walking around and through homes now ....Thanks!

Posted by Rob Thomas, Bristol TN-VA & Tri Cities Agent, ABR, GRI, e-Pro (Prestige Homes of The Tri Cities, Inc. CALL....423-341-6954) over 8 years ago

James - what you do is find the scuttle hole and start climbing around!

Reubs - could very well be.  Those flat systems are often not done right.

Rob - just looking around!  That one was pretty obvious.  The problem with looking up in that yard though, was that you WEREN'T looking down and seeing what you were stepping in...  you catch my drift I know.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay, you home inspectors love a good puzzle. And you always give us so much information that help us to see things, to notice things as we walk around a house. Of course we are no substitute for a good home inspector, but we are armed with more information that make us better agents, both for buyer and seller.

Thank you!

And wow, is that a lot of rust or what????

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 8 years ago

Soon as I saw the first picture I knew where this was going. Yep, follow the clues. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 8 years ago

I love the title to the post Jay. There will always be some good clues out there, we just need to notice them.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 8 years ago

I like your recommendation the best, hire a knowledgeable home inspector.

As knowledgeable as I think I am, I still hire one, for every property that I am buying.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) over 8 years ago

This is the same issue you helped my buyer discover in Dominion Valley.  We were lucky to have you on the case.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 8 years ago

Andrea - it is a lot of rust.  This may have been like this from installation, meaning it was not done correctly.

Jim - it was an easy one.  As you know, I am trying to be instructive.

Tom - in these situations, one thing leads to another and eventually you get to the source of the problem.

Joe - four eyes are better than two.  There is an engineer here who often has me look at something (in addition to his guys) because I have a different perspective.

Chris Ann - this is pretty much exactly the same thing, except that pan was full!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay, as a society, too many of us think a "bandaid" is a "fix".  Find the root cause and addressing it is the only lasting fix.  Then you can repair the damage without the need of future bandaids...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 8 years ago

And Chris, this was a problem people had lived with for a long time, maybe even thinking it was normal!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

I guess the plus side of all of this is the water is actually getting out of the building.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 8 years ago

At least Rob!  And it has been getting out at a trickle for some time!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay -- it is interesting that the sellers did not clean the side of the house, which would have minimized one of your clues.  One would have thought their agent would have suggested cleaning the outside of the house.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 8 years ago

Hey. . . at least they didn't cover it up with spray paint before they listed!

Posted by Joy Daniels (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd.) over 8 years ago

Steven - this is on a side of the house it appears nobody but the dogs goes to and they may not even have realized!

Joy - that would have been pretty!  They would have had a hard time finding something to make that vinyl siding look decent!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

Jay, a few years ago our friends came home one evening and found their living room ceiling on the floor. It pays to keep the lines clear or the drip pans will over flow.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 8 years ago

That surely happens Mike.  On an inspection once I HIGHLY recommended to a client to install a drip under their new-to-be-installed washing machine before they installed it.  He said he had never heard of them leaking.  Guess what call I got about a week later?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 8 years ago

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