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New Carpet Upstairs - Rainforest Downstairs

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One of my customers called me yesterday, late afternoon and told me that he had a new carpet installed in his upstairs master bedroom and soon after, water started dripping from the ceiling in the room below. This sounds like a familiar story, but the carpet installer swears he didn't use any nails, screws or staples.

When I went over, I turned on the fill valve and there was a steady stream of water flowing. Soon after, the water - lots of it - showed up, dripping through the ceiling light fixtures. We pulled up the carpet and the carpet tack strip had been glued down; no nails. The new carpet pad was taped together, also no nails.

The system was installed in 2008 with Thermalboard and 3/8" PEX on 8" centers. I spoke to the original radiant installer and he said he didn't remember any field splices, but if there were, he said he would have used Rehau Everlok fittings which are pretty damn stout.

I had brought along my infrared camera, but we couldn't leave the system on long enough because there was so much water. I told the owner to call the leak detection company. More later.
8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab

Comments

  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,949
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    @Alan (California Radiant) Forbes

    This ones a head scratcher.
    There has to have been something that was dislodged when installing the carpet either from the sub floor or the joists, something in a partition?
    When those carpet installers us those carpet stretchers and start banging there Knees against them... they are some heavy hitters.
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,293
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    Hi, Could the system be pressurized with air, and then listen for the leak with ultrasound? 🤔

    Yours, Larry
    Intplm.mattmia2CLambjblum
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
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    Hi, Could the system be pressurized with air, and then listen for the leak with ultrasound? 🤔
    I think that's what the leak detection people will do.
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,676
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    I'd be pretty amazed if he could remember any details about a job he did 16 years ago. I can't remember what I ate 2 days ago.

    That said, did you look under the carpet at all to see if they ran tackless etc?


    It could be a complete coincidence. But there's a good chance it's not.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    HomerJSmithhot_rodEdTheHeaterManIntplm.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,639
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    If they used a power stretcher that pushes against the walls and they moves more stuff around than a knee kicker and could have moved some framing enough to make a nail that had been working through the tube finally break through, or just moving the furniture and carpet around and people waking in places they usually don't
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,441
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    A mind bender, that much water indicates a catastrophic failure. Shut off that zone, call the insurance company, tear off the ceiling drywall. The new carpet installation may be just coincidental.
    Intplm.jblum
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,835
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    kcopp said:

    I am betting on that the old carpet or padding removal pulled a nail/ staple out of something....


    I remember finding a refrigerant leak on a system that was installed in a 6 story condo with 24 units. The refrigerant piping was punctured by a nail during construction. The nail must have had some sealant that allowed the lineset to be pressure tested and evacuated on initial commissioning. 5 years later there was a refrigerant leak that no one could find. I isolated each visible section of the refrigerant line until I determined it was in the wall between the 3rd floor and the parking garage. Careful measuring allowed me make a 18” square opening of the garage ceiling and found where the refrigerant made a 90° turn to the outdoor condensing unit(s) Once the fire-rated ceiling was opened I could clearly see a nail, from installing the first floor unit's floor molding trim, dead center into the suction line.

    I was able to fish a new suction line up that same chase to the evaporator coil in the 3rd floor unit. There was even room to add an oil trap (loop) half way up. Once the new lineset was connected, the leak was gone.

    3 years of operation with no problem, then 2 years of leaks that no one could find. Since water at 12 PSI is more forgiving than refrigerant at over 100 PSI, I think that @kcopp may be correct.
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbesmattmia2jblum
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,639
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    Many nails for power mailers are adhesive coated.
    Tommi68
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
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    Between @kcopp and @mattmia2, they got it right. Seems that before the new carpet went down, for some reason, nails were removed from the plywood that was covering the Thermalboard. Some of the nails had penetrated the PEX tubing and had completely sealed the PEX from any leaking for 16 years.

    I haven't been called back in to do the repairs yet, but I would suggest that all the plywood be removed to make sure no other penetrations exist. Or maybe leave it alone to see if any other nails can hold for an additional 16 years. :wink:
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
    PC7060MarjPinard
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,639
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    Maybe fix the leak, do a good pressure test up to the rating of the tubing with air, then reconnect/refill and use an ir camera to look for the hot tubing and see if there are more suspicious looking nails? It puts the tubing in the entire house in question, not just that room.
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,247
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    @EdTheHeaterMan
    See refrigerant leaks in multistory condo s. Somebody installs a closet or something. Another owner loses A/C. Culprit doesn't want anyone to enter his unit to check.
    jblum
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,142
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    Any other nails certainly will rust off and leak. Since the damage is done below, I’d suggest pulling the rest of the overlayment up.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Geosman
    Geosman Member Posts: 26
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    Isolate and blow out the circuit with compressed air. Then pressure it up with the air compressor. For a leak to produce so much water to drain from ceiling fixtures the leak will be large enough to hear without using ultrasonics. Repair the line and repressurize to see if there is more than one leak site.
  • jblum
    jblum Member Posts: 9
    edited April 4
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    You hit the nail on the head. (Bad pun.) In new multiple dwellings with roof-top condensers, problems will occur when the architect and engineer don't get together to specify on the architectural plans a proper chase for the refrigerant pipes. A proper chase should be fashioned so that the pipes are kept away from nailable surfaces. Also, there should be access panels on each floor. It's called planning ahead.


  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,676
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    Anyone who claims they never make mistakes or ever gets stumped is lying.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    kcopp