Last night, after putting the kids down for the night, I walked down the stairs and heard the sound of dripping, even pouring, water. Having worked in apartment maintenance, that sound penetrates my brain, and I can find dripping faucets from a mile away. In this case, I had no need of extrasensory capabilities; the waterfall was directly in front of me. It was pouring from the central air return vent.
Part of parenting is keeping the home functional, and unplanned, indoor water features fall outside that realm. My wife came down the stairs as I was getting the step stool and screwdriver out to remove the grill and filter to see what was up. Clearly this water was too great in quantity and the airflow in the wrong direction to make this a central air issue. As soon as I had a clear look in the vent, several wet holes in the sheet metal showed where the water had gotten into the vent. How it got to those holes was still unknown.
Since we purchased this house, we have had a buzzing light in the kitchen, and an earlier raining inside experience showed us that the air bubble tub in the master bathroom has a leak somewhere that leads to rain if the tub is filled. That was my immediate suspect in this case, though why it had not rained through the vent before was a mystery. My daughter had taken a long and splashy shower in that tub, so it might have pooled more water than normal and found a new way to follow gravity’s pull.
As my wife and I did some trouble shooting, she mentioned that the area around the humidifier in the kids’ room had been wet. Because I regularly spill a little water when filling the tanks, I thought nothing of it until today when I noticed the entire length of a floor rug next to the humidifier was sopping wet. After a quick inspection, I found there was a great quantity of water on the floor and that the humidifier was spilling over from the top of its reservoir. I know how it malfunctioned, but I have no idea why.
Now there is a fan blowing, windows open, and a rug hanging on the line on our back porch. The humidifier is sitting in the kids’ tub where its leak can be directed down a more conventional path. What looked to be a morning of crawling through the eves looking for drips is now turned into an afternoon of going to the hardware store to see if I can get some type of waterproof tape to cover the holes in the tub since that was what I thought I had to fix anyway. This temporary measure will prevent the water we know gets into the crawlspace, and it will serve until we actually deal with the tub.
I am glad throughout this process that my wife is involved and that my daughter sees and processes what we are doing. I hope that we are modeling that men and women can figure out what is wrong when house repairs are needed and that we can do them when we know what we need. Our son, being one year old, is probably not even aware of the issue and would not understand why rain inside is such a bad thing. All things in good time.