How To Unclog an Air Conditioner Drain Line
Your AC system is more than just a luxury during the hot summer nights of Tennessee, but sometimes issues do come up. A clogged AC drain line can cause water to leak and lead to damage in your home. A safety sensor switch inside the drain pan should turn off your air conditioner if when the water level in the pan reaches a certain height. This prevents water from overflowing and causing damage to your home. When operating normally your AC system removes humidity from the air. The water that your system generates is then drained from your system down the drain line and into the drain pan and then down the condensate drain to the outside of your home.
Help! The Water is Backing Up
Your clogged AC drain requires maintenance like so many other things around your home. If the line is not properly cleaned algae and mold can grow inside the line and clog the drain which can lead to excess humidity, musty odors and even water damage inside your home. When a drain becomes clogged from mold, algae or even insect nests your system should turn off when the drain pan is full unless the safety sensor switch is not working.
How To Fix Your Clogged AC Drain Line
- To unclog the line yourself you will need a few basic supplies:
- Some old rags or towels to clean up excess water
- A wet/dry vacuum cleaner
- Distilled vinegar or bleach
- A Funnel
Before starting any work on your AC system be sure that the system is powered off both at the thermostat and at your homes breaker box. Water and electricity are not a good combination so if you are not 100% confident with these steps it may be time to call a professional HVAC technician.Once the power is off you will need to locate your air handler which is generally located in the attic or a closet. Once you find the unit the condensate or drain pan is usually located directly under the unit. The pan may also be covered by a removable access panel. When you locate the drain pan if you see standing water in the pan there is a good chance that your drain is clogged. Use your wet/dry vacuum and towels or rags to remove the water from the pan. Once the pan is empty you should clean the pan with soap and water. To unclog the drain, use a wet/dry vacuum to pull the clog through the drain opening. The drain opening is located on the outside of your house near the foundation. Place your hand around the pipe to improve suction and allow the vacuum to run for 20 or 30 seconds then check the vacuum canister to see if you’ve successfully removed the obstruction. The next step is to identify the access point to the drain line which will usually be a t-shaped vent with a PVC cover. Remove the cover to the drain and inspect it for visible clogs. Next you will want to flush the drain line with distilled vinegar or hydrogen peroxide if don’t like the vinegar odor. You can also use hot water and dish soap although the first two methods are preferred. Allow the solution to “soak” in the drain for roughly 30 minutes then complete the cleaning by flushing the drain line with water. It is best to have a helper outside the home to let you know when the water is clear and flowing freely. If your system does not have an access vent you can use the opening in the drain pan. The fitting is removable to give you easier access. Finally, please note that these steps DO NOT apply to window AC Units. Most window units drain their condensation from the bottom of the case which in turn can end up on the side of your home and on the lawn or plants below. AC Drain Line Still Clogged? If your drain line is still clogged and not draining properly after going thru the steps above its probably time to call an HVAC technician. Please keep in mind that drain pipes become clogged over time because of a gradual buildup of algae, mold or other debris. These clogs can easily be prevented with regular maintenance that can save you time and money in the long run. You should consider having your system serviced at least once per year and preferably twice (fall and spring). You can always count on the Pros at DOC Heating & Cooling for all of your heating and cooling needs.