My AC Drain Line Is Clogged

What Should I Do?

Heat waves and the erratic weather here in the greater Philadelphia area have certainly been putting your air conditioner to work this summer season. Your AC has a big job to do removing; humidity from your home as well as heat. With humidity high in the August months, that equals a whole lot of moisture being removed by your air conditioner. Where does it all go?

A normal running AC unit will collect the moisture in the air handler’s condensation drip pan, and then flows into a drain tube that goes outside. Like most things with age, that tube can start to become sluggish as it clogs with debris and can produce water damage.

How Do Drain Clogs Form?

Moisture gathers in the air conditioner’s air handler condensate pan. That water holds microscopic bacteria as well as small particles from the air. While it is dripping through the drain line, residue builds a mold, clusters of dust, dirt, and algae.

Also, drain lines leading outdoors can form clogs at the end. Drain lines that are in an overly dusty area could be clogged with clumps of wet dirt. To up the “gross” factor, air conditioners that have been stagnant for a while may even have insects that have taken up residence in your drain line, building nests!

What Signs Should I Look For That Indicate A Clogged Drain?

A lot of what happens when a drain line clogs up depends on your particular air handler’s features. More modern air handlers will detect when the drip pan is too full and will shut down immediately. Higher quality models (smart models) will send a text message or email when this happens. Although the system automatically shutting off may seem excessive and inconvenient at the moment it is much better than the alternative.

Air handler’s that lack that feature will not forewarn you of a problem, in which case you will not be aware of an issue until you notice water dripping out of the AC vents or ceiling. This would indicate that the drip pan has already overflowed. You will want to turn off your air conditioner immediately before further damage occurs.

What Can I Do To Clear a Drain Line Clog?

When you are clearing a drain line the following equipment is necessary:

wet/dry shop vac
air compressor
If your air handler is located in your attic, it will require certain equipment to work up there as well, in such a tight place it may be best to leave the job up to a local professional HVAC technician who has the proper equipment and experience to perform a quick emergency repair.

To clear it yourself:

Begin by locating your air handler’s condensate drip pan, located at the bottom of the unit.
Cautiously slide the pan out to avoid spilling water.
Use a wet/dry vac to remove the water.
Remove the pan completely and wash it in hot, soapy water to remove any buildup.
Try clearing the drain line with suction or positive air pressure. *You can try vacuuming the line from either end, but the challenge will be in creating a tight seal around the vacuum hose. Try different attachments or try wrapping a cloth around an attachment. Have someone else plug up the other end of the line.* *You can also use an air compressor to blast air into the air handler’s end of the drain tube, to try and blow the clog out of the other end.*
After the drain line is clear, use a funnel to slowly pour a gallon of white vinegar through the tube. It will kill any mold and algae, and can help reduce the risk of future clogging.
Although you can certainly de-clog your AC drain yourself, it is not a job for every homeowner, however, when you are experiencing a clog you need to address it immediately. Ask the professionals at HVAC Philly, call us or contact us online today!

For more FAQ about your HVAC system, be sure to follow HVAC Philly Blog, for helpful tips and information related to AC repair, air conditioning maintenance, and services provided to the greater Philadelphia, Bucks County, PA and Montgomery County, PA areas.

If you are in the greater Philadelphia, Montgomery County, or Bucks County, PA areas, HVAC Philly offers affordable, professional and expert HVAC services to commercial buildings and homes throughout the area. They have over 20 years experience and rated top ten HVAC companies in Philadelphia.

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