Florida’s hot, humid weather makes it essential that your air conditioning is working properly, or else the temperature inside your home could easily get into the 80s or even 90s in just a few hours. Clogged AC drain lines are a common problem that we see frequently. If left unchecked, this issue could cause water damage and potentially allow mold to start growing inside the home. A clogged drain line can also cause your air conditioning to stop working entirely if too much water is sitting inside the drain pan. The good news is that you can usually unclog the line on your own without having to wait for an AC technician. With this in mind, here is everything you need to know about clogged AC drain lines and how to fix them.
Causes of Clogged AC Drain Lines
All air conditioners have a condensate drain line connected to the air handler unit inside the building. The purpose of the line is to catch condensation that forms on the evaporator coil and drain this water away from the unit and out of the building. The combination of heat and moisture inside the air handler unit means that the drain lines often become clogged due to a buildup of algae, mildew and slime. Dirt and debris can also sometimes get in the line and lead to clogs.
How to Tell If Your Drain Line Is Clogged
If the drain line is clogged, it will usually lead to water backing up and overflowing out of the condensate drain pan. In most cases, you’ll either see water dripping out of the air handler or have a pool of standing water on the floor. The issue can also make it so that your air conditioning won’t turn on. This is because some units have a float inside the drain pan that signals the unit to shut off if there is too much water inside the pan.
If you suspect your drain line is clogged, the first thing you should do is open the access panel on your air handler to see if there is standing water inside the drain pan. There shouldn’t be much or any water in the pan if everything is working properly, but if there is, this is a sure sign that your drain line is clogged.
Steps for Unclogging Your Drain Line
If your drain line is clogged, the first thing you’ll need to do is find where the line exits your air handler and follow it to see where it leads. The line should be a small PVC pipe that exits out the side of the air handler. Depending on where your AC is and how the system is set up, the line will either run into a nearby floor drain or directly outside the house somewhere near the condenser unit.
The clog could potentially be where the drain line exits the drain pan or anywhere else along the length of the line. For this reason, it is always best to start at the drain pan. If there is standing water, you’ll need to either vacuum it out or sop it up with towels. Then you can insert a wire brush down into the bottom of the drain pan to see if you can dislodge any clogs at that point.
After cleaning the drain pan, you should then move to the far end of the drain line and remove the access cap. Visually inspect the end of the line for any clogs and use your brush to remove anything you see. You’ll then want to take a wet/dry vac and securely tape it to the end of the line to create a tight seal. Now turn the vacuum on and see if you can suction out the clog.
The last step is to go back to the air handler and use a hose to try to flush out the line to see if the clog is cleared. The pipe should have a tee fairly close to the air handler unit that allows you to access this end of the line. Simply take the cap off of the tee and thread your hose down into the line making sure that it is going down towards the end of the line and not towards the air handler. Turn the hose on and then have someone else check the end of the line to see if the water is flowing out.
If the water isn’t yet flowing, you can also try to clean the line using one cup of bleach mixed with a cup of water. Pour this down into the line in the same place where you put the hose, let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes, and then try to vacuum the line one more time. If none of this works, your last option is to contact an AC technician as they will have specialized equipment that can eliminate even the most stubborn clogs.
If you’re experiencing issues with a clogged drain line or any other problems with your air conditioning, the expert team at Dr. HVAC Inc can help you overcome the problem and get your AC working again. We specialize in repairs and maintenance of all types and brands of AC systems, and we also carry a wide selection of new units for when it is time to replace your old air conditioner. We also offer a full range of heating services as well as indoor air quality testing and solutions.