Your AC drain line might be easy to overlook, but this small component of your air conditioner plays the vital role of removing excess condensation from your system. Since your air conditioner is constantly handling the exchange of hot and cold air, the development of moisture throughout this process is inevitable. Without your drain line, all of this moisture would run rampant, causing problems like water damage, mold, system malfunction, and more. Even if your HVAC system is healthy, however, it is common for algae and bacteria overgrowth to occur from the dark and moist conditions in your AC’s condensate drain line. Over time, your drain line can become clogged with growth or debris which can lead to costly repairs. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your drain line clean.
How to Know If Your Drain Line is Clogged
Clogged AC drain lines occur when there is buildup within the drainage system, causing it not to function properly. Some common indicators that your AC drain line is clogged include:
- The drain pan of your indoor unit (the air handler) is full of water
- Air conditioner is blowing moldy air throughout your home
- AC unit is malfunctioning or won’t turn on
- Water damage around the air handler
Some modern units also include sensors that can detect if there is a clog in the drainage system. Even so, it never hurts to check the drain pan when you are cleaning your filters or performing other routine maintenance on your unit.
How to Clean Your AC Drain Line in 6 Steps
Troubleshooting your drain line can easily be done without calling a professional. But, depending on the condition of your AC drain line, you may need a second pair of hands. You will need to gather a few everyday household items before getting started.
- Stiff wire brush
- Distilled Vinegar
- Duct tape
- Wet/Dry Vacuum
Step 1. Turn off Your AC Unit
Make sure your AC unit is completely off before locating your drain line. In addition to turning off the system at your thermostat, also locate the breaker box and switch the AC unit to off. Many units will also have a shut-off box near the outdoor unit known as a service disconnect. It’s a good idea to turn this off, too, while doing any maintenance or repair on your AC unit. This will ensure a safe work environment for cleaning.
Step 2. Find Your AC Drain Line
Your drain line is a PVC pipe near your outdoor AC unit that leads to your drain pan. You can use a wet/dry vacuum or dry rags to remove any excess water in your drain pan before moving on to the next step. It’s also a good idea to clean the drain pan with soap and water in case any bacteria or mold has been building up in it.
Step 3. Disconnect the Hose Attached to your Drain Line
Once you have located your drain line, remove the cap from the T-shaped head at the top of the pipe. This will allow you to see further into the pipeline to check for blockage. If there is a blockage near the opening, you can use your wire brush to dislodge it. Most of the time a clogged drain line will also require the suction of a wet/dry vacuum to clear the debris from further down the drain line. Use duct tape to attach the vacuum to the drain opening and let it run for a minute or so before turning it off.
Step 4. Clean Your AC Drain Line With Vinegar
Even if you’ve managed to dislodge the debris with your brush and wet/dry vacuum, it’s also a good idea to clean out your condensate drain line by using distilled vinegar. This will help kill and break down any harmful buildup that has developed throughout the line. You can start by pouring 1/4 cup of vinegar through a funnel into the drain; slowly add more if needed. Let the vinegar sit for a few hours to eat away any algae build-up before flushing the pipe out with water.
Step 5. Check to See If the Clog Is Fixed
After you’ve cleaned the drain pan, dislodged any visible buildup, and cleaned the line with vinegar, pour water into the drain opening (where you removed the cap). Go outside and see if the water is draining properly through the drain lines. If so, your work is done and the clog is fixed. If the clog persists, repeat the steps or seek professional assistance.
Step 6. Don’t Neglect Routine Maintenance
Keeping up with routine maintenance is key to your AC’s performance. This includes changing air filters, checking the drain pan, and having regular tune-ups to make sure your system is performing at its highest level. Taking preventive maintenance seriously can save you from costly repairs.
Air Conditioning Maintenance and Repair in Central Florida
If you’ve gone through the above steps and are still having issues with the performance of your air conditioning system, the professionals at Complete Air Mechanical are here to help.