What do I do if my air conditioner’s drain line is clogged?
Clogged drain lines are a very frustrating and messy problem! We understand. Many homeowner’s experience clogged condensate lines in Brevard County and our surrounding service areas. Clogged drain lines left unattended can become more than just a nuisance. They can lead to even bigger problems down the road such as:
Causing hundreds to thousands of dollars property damage from water back ups.
We suggest the following solutions for unclogging your condensate drain:
- Schedule an appointment for an Air Care Systems, Inc. N.A.T.E. Certified technician to perform maintenance of your heating and cooling system, which will include cleaning the condensate line. There may be more than a clogged drain line causing your issues and those issues will need to be addressed.
- Do it yourself
If you want to do it yourself be prepared for a little frustration, elbow grease and sleuthing.
1. Determining the cause of the drain clog is the first issue at hand.
You should inspect the condensate line and look for any potential areas that may be un-level or causing water to trap in the drain. If present, re-align and remove the areas causing the trapped water.
Determine where the main condensate drain exits or terminates your home or building. It will be either a 3/4″ PVC pipe or black vinyl tubing, depending upon the age of the house. If you cannot locate the drain, look for an area on the ground that stays constantly wet and/or has algae growing. In many instances you may need to dig down under the ground to find the drain as it has become covered by dirt and debris over time. Expose the drain if covered and provide for clear, unobstructed drainage. This may have been the cause of the blockage in the first place.
Determine whether or not your air conditioning system is frozen. Inspect the indoor coil and components for the presence of ice. When severe and left unattended it is not uncommon to find ice present all the way back to the compressor and copper tubing at the outside unit. Many times a frozen air conditioning system is unthawing and causing the source of the water and/or overcoming the drain with such copious amounts of water the drain cannot handle. Should your system have ice present, turn the system off and schedule service immediately. FYI- Lack of air flow WILL cause a system to freeze. CHECK YOUR AIR FILTER AND CHANGE IF DIRTY!
2. Connect a wet/dry vacuum hose to the end of the main drain line making sure you have a good seal. Turn on the vacuum and let it run for 3-5 minutes. Remove the hose and inspect for evidence of any debris exiting the pipe. Repeat as necessary until clear.
3. Don’t have a wet/dry vacuum. You can use water pressure as well. This gets a little trickier and can cause water damage if you are not careful. (Air Care Systems, Inc. is NOT liable for any damages as a result of ANY client attempting to clear a drain.) Complete Step #1. Turn a water hose onto medium strength and place onto the exiting end of the main drain line outside. Form a cup with your hand around the pipe and water house. Allow the water to enter the drain line for a count of 5. Remove the hose and allow the introduced water and debris to exit the system. Repeat until clear. Holding the water hose for extended amounts of time or at too high a pressure can cause back flooding into the home or garage, use due care. Clients that have systems with condensate clean out fittings installed into the drain line can perform the same task at the fitting itself as well. Again, careful not to cause back flooding.
Clients should also prepare to check their drain frequently following routine maintenance as debris frequently continues to be removed from the coil for some time after the maintenance is completed. If this occurs you can clear the drain as above. We do not warranty condensate drain line clogs. We will however cover a clogged drain up to 30 days after maintenance was performed by our technicians and the client purchased an E.S.P. Semi-Annual Planned Maintenance Agreement and has become a Preferred Customer. Unfortunately, once an year, annual maintenance does not enjoy this benefit.
Now, let’s talk prevention! While no problem is ever really preventable, some tips to lessen your issues are indicated.
Routine filter changes on your system is a MUST! Remember this! AIRFLOW IS KING! Allow your filter to become blocked and you have a problem.
Routine maintenance by a professional, annually at minimum, is a MUST! Poor maintenance and dirty coils contribute to condensate issues and create poor Indoor Air Quality. AIRFLOW IS KING!
Routine condensate drain line maintenance is a MUST! Monthly perform one of the procedures above to keep the line patent. This is also a great time for systems with drain line cleanout access to have a cup of BOILING WATER poured into the drain. BOILING WATER ONLY. NO BLEACH! NO VINEGAR! Okay, go ahead and ask. WHY?? My last technician told me to do it! NO! Manufacturers NO LONGER recommend bleach nor vinegar introduced into condensate drains. The off gassing from the chlorine in the bleach and the acid, yes, acid- vinegar is acetic acid, has been found to cause premature evaporator coil failures in systems. Glad we cleared that up!
Routine treatment with Nu-Line can also help to alleviate issue with clogged condensate drain lines. Nu-Line helps prevent A/C drain line clogs and water leaks by removing slime build-up and keeping drain lines open. Use it every three months to help prevent water damage and mold growth from clogged A/C drain lines.