Your AC condensate drain line removes condensation from the evaporator coil to prevent leaks and ice clogs. The drain has an exterior opening through which sludge, debris, and bacteria can find their way into your system. The buildup of these elements in your drain line can cause clogs, which, if not cleaned, can lead to water damage and mold growth. Drain line clogs are preventable, and homeowners who schedule regular, professional drain line cleaning services will rarely deal with clogged drains.
It does not require a third eye to detect clogs in your air conditioner drain line. Drain line clogs cause almost the same issues other AC problems cause, including poor performance, increased energy bills, and bad odors. An air conditioner with a clogged condensate drain line may also have an overflowing drain pan. Removing drain clogs is not entirely a professional job, but calling your AC technician should be the first line of action when you detect drain line clogs. To unclog your drain lines at home, check out the following tips.
Start By Locating Your AC Drain Pipe Opening
The initial most essential step to removing drain clogs is to identify the exact location of the AC drainpipe opening. You don’t need expensive tools or decade-long skills to locate a condensate drain and exterior AC unit outlet. Finding such pipe won’t be a hassle if the place you live in receives a humid climate throughout the year. The drain works more in humid weather to remove excess moisture, and lots of water pours out during this time of the year. To identify the drainpipe, you need to look at the area outside your ducting system with more water flowing out.
However, in winter, when the climate is super cold, and humidity levels are low, it will not be an easy task to locate the AC drainpipe opening. In fact, it could take you days or even weeks to identify the drainpipe, especially if you’re not familiar with the setup of the outdoor AC unit. However, you shouldn’t subject yourself to days of futile searching. It only requires knowing the shape, size, and possible locations where the drain pipe could be found. To cut a long story short, an AC drain pipe is a 3/4–inch PV pipe that elongates from the eaves or wall of your home. The opening at the end of this pipe is the drainpipe opening.
Locate the Exact Location Where Your Drain Pipe Connects to the Evaporator Coil
Now that you’ve located your drain opening, it’s time to identify the joint connecting the drainpipe to the evaporator coil. Check the opposite end of your air conditioner pipe and locate the joint connecting the line to the evaporator coil. In a standard setting, water extracted from the evaporator coil will accumulate in the drain fan before channeling out into the drain pipe.
Usually, the water flowing out will make the pipe curve down to create a trap. The drain pipe will have a cleanout at its top section just before the trap. You need to identify the cleanout because it’s from that exact point you will be doing the cleaning work.
Open Your AC Cleanout to Locate the Drain Pipe
The cleanout offers access to the drainpipe, allowing easy cleaning of the mess blocking water flow. It’s the exact opening you need to add chemicals and solutions for cleaning clogs inside your AC drain pipe. In the manufacturer’s state, the cleanout will be sealed, although some manufacturers don’t usually cap the cleanout. Start by removing the slip cap encasing the cleanout if your cleanout comes with a seal. Keep the cleanout seal safely because you need to fix it back to its original position after cleaning your drain line clog.
You can tell the amount of clog and how far the clog is through the cleanout opening. Use a torch to observe the inside of the drain pipe. If the clog is in a close view location, you will notice spiteful substances, including mold and green slime. However, if the clog is not in close range, you may not see anything when you flash the light into the drain pipe.
Pour Your Cleaning Agent Down the Cleanout
Now flush out the clog with the proper cleaning agent. Look for a cleaning agent with potent antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. You want to remove the clog and still cleanse the bacteria and fungi accumulated in your drain pipe. You can use standard fragrance-free laundry bleach if you’re low on budget. Ordinary laundry bleach is cheap, available, and can do the job excellently.
Add the right amount into the cleanout outlet, and allow it to flow into your drain pipe. The cleanout opening has a limited circumference, so you need to use a funnel to safely add the laundry bleach into your drain line. Watch the flow of the bleach, and if it gurgles or fails to flow, allow it some minutes to flow. You’re advised to add as much cleaning agent as you can. Don’t cleanse the drain line immediately after adding the cleaning agent.
Now Rinse the Drain Pipe
Now that you have poured the cleaning agent and allowed enough time to bleach and remove the mold and slime, you need to rinse the drain line. The setup of the drainpipe enables most of the cleaning bleach to drain out on its own, but all contents of the bleaching agent won’t be removed unless you rinse it out. Allowing the bleach to sit in the drain pipe for an extended period will damage your PVC pipe. It could as well shorten its lifespan.
Don’t celebrate too early and forget the important step of rinsing your drain pipe. Make sure you rinse everything out using hot water. Confirm all debris and bleach contents have been rinsed out before setting the drainpipe seal back to the cleanout opening.
Other Possible Ways to Remove the Clog
Using a cleaning agent is not the only way to clean drain line clogs. You can also use a wet-dry vacuum or plumber’s snake to remove the clog. If you have a plumber’s snake or wet-dry vacuum, you will need to open and put off the AC service panel to access the drip pan and drain. Setup the wet-dry vacuum hose on the tee feature with the threaded plug on your service panel, and then run the vacuum for approximately five minutes to remove the clog. If you’re using a plumber’s snake, you must do it such that you have removed all the buildup before pulling out the snake. After cleaning with a wet-dry vacuum or plumber’s snake, you’ll need to pour vinegar into the drainpipe to remove the remaining clogs.
Remember that DIY drain line unclogging methods don’t always work. If you tried these tricks to no avail or have no time to conduct DIY drain line clog removal, talk with qualified technicians at Landry Mechanical. We’re a top-leading HVAC company serving clients in central & Metro West Massachusetts, committed to exceeding our clients’ expectations. We have been in the HVAC and plumbing industry since 2008 and have managed to serve thousands of satisfied clients. The factory-trained and certified at Landry Mechanical have the expertise to handle air conditioner repairs, installations, and replacements.