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Clogged Air Conditioner Drain Line

Get Your Hvac Serviced Regularly

How to Unclog AC Drain Line (Easy Way)

One of the best ways to keep your HVAC system in peak condition, and to unclog the air conditioner drain line is to have it regularly inspected . This will keep your air conditioner working properly, and catch potential malfunctions before they become severe issuesand if your AC drain line keeps clogging, theyll be able to resolve it.

How Does Ac Work

Most homeowners dont wonder about their air conditioning system until it breaks down. Then its common to wonder or ask your AC repairperson, How does AC work? Your AC is a complicated system with many interconnected parts. Understanding how it works can help you understand why its so important to maintain your heating and cooling system over time.

Central AC systems have indoor units called evaporators that connect to the homes furnace or air handler. The evaporator is the part of the AC that removes hot air and humidity from inside the home in summer. The evaporator cools the warm air with refrigerant and then pushes the cooled air through the homes ductwork to every room in the house.

AC systems also have outdoor units called condensers. These units hold the refrigerant as well as a compressor that pumps refrigerant back inside to the evaporator unit. Both the condenser and evaporator units are made up of many different components. These include fans, motors and filters. Any one of these parts can break or wear out over time, especially if the AC is not regularly maintained.

The entire AC system is controlled by the thermostat. Usually mounted in a central spot in the home, the thermostat is where you can turn the AC on and off. The thermostat sets the AC to Heat or Cool, depending on the season. You also use the thermostat to set the temperature you want your home to reach.

What Is White Slime And Where Does It Come From

Before you call an exorcist, relax, were not talking about anything paranormal. The pale, gooey substance is not an invader from the unknown. Rather, its bio-film or organic matter. Studies have shown that white slime is not algae, and only a small percentage of it is made up of fungi. Actually, the colorless gunk forms around a colony of bacteria, protecting it as it grows. But why would bacteria grow like this in your air handler?

Part of the reason is the way your air conditioner regulates humidity. The dehumidification process happens within the air handler . Air blows across the evaporator coil, where moisture condenses and drips into a drain pan. From there, the moisture travels outside your home via a pipe called a drain line. Because bacteria thrive in dark, damp environments, your ACs drain pan is a prime incubator. Also, dust and dirt that accumulate on the coil provide ample food for the microorganisms to feast on.

For reasons yet unknown, white slime affects some HVAC systems and not others. There does not seem to be a verifiable link between specific products or system configurations. The only known influencing factors are environmental.

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What Happens If An Ac Drain Line Is Clogged

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Home » Frequently Asked Questions » What Happens If an AC Drain Line Is Clogged?

A puddle of water on the ground near your air conditioner is one of the first and most obvious signs that your drain line is stopped up. A clogged AC drain line is no joke because it can cause extensive water damage to your home, including mold and weakening your structural foundation.

If you think your AC drain line is clogged, follow the tips below to see if you can fix it yourself. If you cant clear the clog, or if youre too nervous to try, no problem! Give our team at Ambient Edge a call, and well be glad to fix it for you.

What Happens When Your Condensation Drain Is Clogged

Condensate Drain Line From Our Air Conditioner

If youve ever taken a look at the indoor unit of your HVAC system, youve probably noticed that theres a large metal pan sitting beneath it. This is known as your drain pan and its job is to capture water that drips out of your air conditioner. This is a perfectly normal part of the cooling processas water vapor particles come into contact with your freezing cold indoor coil, the water quickly turns from gas form to liquid form, eventually accumulating into drops. Those drops eventually drip off the coil and down into your drain pan where they are safely collected and carried away via a drain line connected to the bottom of the pan.

You may not think your drain line is all that importantafter all, it only has to carry away a small amount of water that your air conditioner naturally produces as a byproduct. However, your drain line can become clogged with debris like pet hair, dirt and dust and this could present a problem.

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How To Clear An Ac Drain Line With A Garden Hose

If you dont have a wet/dry vac, you can try to unclog your ACs drain line using a garden hose instead.

  • Attach one end of the garden hose to a spigot.
  • Attach the other end of the hose to your ACs condensate drain
  • Turn the water on at the spigot as high as it will go for maximum pressure.
  • Let the water run for five seconds, then turn it off.
  • Repeat these steps a few times, and the clog should eventually loosen.
  • If this process does not successfully clear the clog, youll need a professional to come and take a look.

    What Happens If Your Ac Drain Line Is Clogged

    If your AC drain line is clogged, your air conditioner cant efficiently cool your home due to a blockage within the system. Some homes may have a drain pan condensate safety switch that will automatically shut down the indoor unit if the water level inside the drain pan begins to rise, in order to help prevent a clog. In that case, your system turning off or not running as it should might be a sign of a clogged drain line in your future.

    But, if your system doesnt have this safety switch, it will continue running with a clogged drain line. The water will eventually fill up the drain pan and begin to spill out, potentially leaking water and might even cause ceiling or drywall damage. Regardless of if your unit has a safety switch or not, if you suspect your AC drain line is clogged, turn off your system and contact an HVAC professional for help.

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    How To Clean An Air Conditioner Drain Line: Step By Step

    Using vinegar is one of the effective ways when clearing air conditioner drain lines. Vinegar kills molds and other forms of bacteria and prevents buildup formation. Do this every month to keep your AC units at peak performance. The steps are easy enough to follow. You only need about ¼ cup of vinegar poured into your drain line to dissolve all the clogs inside.

  • Turn off your air conditioner. Shut down the thermostat and flip the lever of your breaker to the off position.
  • Look for the inch-long PVC pipe, typically white, gray or black in color. Follow this pipe to the end where it drains all the water. This should be your air conditioner drain line location. The air conditioner drain line outside the house should be attached to the wall, near the condenser unit.
  • Once you have situated the drain line, look for the access point. Most drain lines have T-shaped tees with a cap/cover. Remove this cap and look for the blockage. If it is visible, you can take it out manually, but you should wear protective gloves.
  • Start pouring the vinegar inside. If you have distilled white vinegar, use this since its increased acidity is better for cleaning buildups. Cleaning the air conditioner drain line vinegar solution should take about 30 minutes. For better results, you can leave the vinegar to stew for longer.
  • Check out this post for some more tips on cleaning your air conditioner.

    Is Your Ac Drain Line Clogged Symptoms & Signs

    How to Unclog AC Drain Line Fast (3 Seconds), Avoid Repairman

    When your air conditioning unit cools your home, it does a lot more than just dropping the temperature inside. Its also your number one way to keep humidity down all year long.

    When your air conditioner removes moisture from the air, that liquid has to go somewhere: the AC condensate drain line.

    During the year, because of mildew growth and build up, your air conditioners drain line can become clogged, causing your system to have problems. Were here to go over the top five symptoms of a clogged AC drain line so that you know when to call for professional service.

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    Is It Time To Call Cool Rays

    If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of a clogged line, then its time to call Cool Rays in Brevard for some much-needed service. Make sure that your air conditioner is in tip-top shape all season by calling for a tune-up or repair when you need it most, and dont ignore any sign that your air conditioning is having issues.

    You can call our team to schedule service or for an emergency repair. Just check out our heating and cooling services to see what we can help you with!

    Push Clogs Out With A Vacuum

    If you notice a clog starting to form, you may be able to remove it with a vacuum. First, remove the paper filter on the drain line. Then, try attaching a wet/dry vacuum to your outside drain line and use it to suck the clog out. Since its a lot easier to clean a line that isnt fully clogged, this method works well to keep your line clear throughout the year.

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    What Causes A Clogged Ac Drain Line

    When an AC cools your home, it produces water as a byproduct of cooling the air. The water is removed from the AC by a drain line. The drain line goes from the air handler inside of your home to the drain line discharge outside of your home.

    A clogged AC drain line is caused by a blockage inside of the drain line. Blockage can come from a variety of sources, including:

    • Dirt/dust/debris from inside of the air handler
    • Dirt/dust/debris from outside of the home, blocking the discharge
    • Insects/creatures climbing into the drain pipe and getting stuck

    If you dont remove the blockage from your drain line, water will build up in your ACs drip pan. The water build-up can eventually get out of control and leak out of your AC unitcausing damage to your home.

    How To Unclog Ac Drain Line

    Clogged Condensate Drain Means Problems

    You can unclog an AC drain line in just a few minutes using minimal tools if you catch the clog early enough. Many HVAC professionals suggest that you avoid using harsh chemicals such as Drano to unclog the block. Follow these steps when an AC drain line clogged:

    1. Collect supplies: You may need a bucket or pan to catch the water in the line, a wire brush or pipe cleaner to gently unclog the line and a cleaning solution such as diluted bleach or vinegar.

    2. Turn off the ACs power: Working with water and electricity can be a dangerous combination. Shut off the power for the unit at the breaker before you get started.

    3. Remove the cap from the drain line: Youll notice the drain may be T-shaped and have a cap at the top of the line. Remove the cap so you can take a better look at the clog.

    4. Look for the clog: Once you remove the cap, check for obvious blockages from hair or dirt. If you can remove the clog without pushing it further down the pipe, pull it out carefully.

    5. Loosen debris in the line: Use the pipe cleaner or wire brush to loosen debris inside the line.

    6. Pour in diluted vinegar or bleach solution: To further break down any clogs, pour the solution you made into the pipe and let it sit for half an hour or longer, depending on the severity of the clog.

    7. Flush the pipe: Drain the solution and rinse the pipe with fresh water.

    8. Monitor the systems performance: If the AC drain pipe is still clogged, you may need to contact an HVAC specialist for help.

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    What Causes Ac Drain Lines To Clog

    Air conditioners work by absorbing the warm air from inside your home and using refrigerant to turn it into cool air. When the warm air goes into the AC, it condenses on the coils, dripping water droplets into a drip pan. This water then gets drained out of your home through drain lines .

    Think about it: Were talking about dark and damp pipes with water being flushed out of them on a regular basis. Over time, mold, mildew, sludge, and algae may start growing in them. And since bugs and mice arent strangers to getting into dark and damp orifices whenever they get a chance, its also possible for them to get in these lines. Add to it dirt from being outside and dust that simply accumulates anywhere and you have the perfect recipe for a nifty clog.

    How To Unclog An Ac Drain Line In 4 Steps

    You can reduce the chances of clogging by regularly flushing the lines with a ¼ cup of distilled vinegar.

    However, if its already clogged, this is what you can do:

    Step 1. Turn off your air conditioner. Better yet, turn off its power source from the breakers. Please dont get electrocuted over something so simple.

    Step 2. Buy or borrow a shop vac. Make sure it has a standard hose two and a half inches wide.

    Step 3. Buy or borrow a DIY vac. This is a PVC part that will allow you to connect your shop vac into the condensate line. It is an ideal tool for this task, since the narrower end of the DIY vac will fit snugly into the end of the drain line. Once everythings connected, turn on the shop vac for at least three minutes.

    Step 4. Locate your condenser line. Granted, if youve been flushing them with vinegar, you already know where they are. If you havent, look for the drain lines coming out of your homes wall and near the outside unit of your air conditioner.

    If youre more of a visual person, for a video tutorial.

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    Your Ac System Shuts Down Or Doesnt Turn On

    If the system shuts off entirely, a very major situation may have occurred. Its possible that a clog has caused water to back up into the system and has damaged the electrical components of the unit. Unfortunately, this is a very serious issue and something that a trained technician will need to diagnose. Replacing the unit may unfortunately be in order.

    What Does The Air Conditioner Drain Pan Do

    How To Fix A Clogged Drain Line (Condensate Line)

    The drain pan catches the water droplets from general humidity and the evaporator coil in the AC unit. This water passes through the drain outlet near the outdoor air conditioning unit. If you see water accumulation in the drain pan, it signifies a clogged drain outlet.


    If you ignore a clogged drain line, you can cause water damage to your home and make your air conditioning process less energy efficient.

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    Flush The Drain Line Regularly

    Keep your drain line clean by flushing it with vinegar solution every three months. You can also use warm water. Refrain from using bleach, however, as they can damage the PVC plastic pipes, as well as break down the cement joining the fittings together. If you have to use bleach, make sure to dilute it with water using a 1:2 or 1:4 ratio. Bleach also has a strong smell, so you may opt to avoid it altogether.

    Easy Steps To Follow When Unclogging Your Ac Drain Line

    With your materials ready, you can begin the unclogging process. Check out the ten steps for fixing a clogged condensate drain line below:

  • Turn off the power to your HVAC unit. You should always turn off your HVAC before you clean it.
  • Find your AC drain line. Most AC drain lines are located outside, near the condenser unit.
  • Push the stiff, thin brush into the end of the drain line. This brush can help you clear any clogs located near the end of the drain line. In most cases, the AC drain line clog will occur farther down, and youll need to do a little more work.
  • Attach the end of your wet/dry vacuum to the end of the AC drain line. Seal it securely using duct tape. Turn the vacuum on to suck out any debris and hopefully clear your clog.
  • After youve run the vacuum for about a minute, remove the wet/dry vac and head indoors. If the drain pan is full, vacuum it out and clean it with soap.
  • Locate the vent tee. Your vent tee is a pipe fitting that connects your AC drain line to the drainage tray. Remove the PVC cap from the top of the vent tee.
  • Poke that stiff, thin wire brush through the vent tee to clean out any easily reachable AC drain line clogs.
  • Put on your gloves, and pour a mixture of one cup bleach and one cup water into the top of the drain pipe. Wait thirty minutes.
  • Have a helper stand outside and watch to see if water drains out of the AC drain line. Working alone? Place a bucket at the end of the drain line to see if youve cleared the AC drain line clog.
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