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My Air Conditioner’s Drain Line is Clogged. What Do I Do?

2019 Sep 03
Posted in: Air Conditioning

Got a clogged drain (condensate) line? We understand! We also understand that it can be a messy issue that’s difficult to fix. 

Beyond being messy, a clogged AC drain line can cause costly or long-term issues like:

  • Thousands of dollars in water damage
  • Growth of harmful contaminants like mold, mildew, virus, and bacteria
  • House fire due to backed up water leaking onto electrical components of your heating and cooling system

Okay, so what’s the solution?

There are two ways you can handle a clogged AC drain line:

  1. Fix it yourself
  2. Call a professional air conditioning technician

We’ll use this blog to explain how you can attempt to unclog a drain line yourself. However, as we mentioned above, a clogged condensate drain can quickly spiral into something much bigger, so our suggestion would be to call an experienced tech from the get-go.

Want a professional to handle this drain line clog? 

Schedule service or learn more about our air conditioning repair services.

Solution 1: Unclog your air conditioner’s condensate line

Step 1: Get out your wet/dry vacuum

You’ll be using a wet/dry vacuum to suck out whatever is obstructing the drain line.

Step 2: Find the main drain line outside of your home

Most homes have a main drain line and a secondary drain line. The main drain line is located near the ground on the outside of your house (it’ll be a 3/4-quarter inch PVC pipe that’s coming out of your home). The secondary drain line is usually located higher than the main line. Water will drip out of the secondary line if the main line is clogged.  

Step 3: Connect the wet/dry vacuum hose to the main drain line

Before you turn on the vacuum, make sure that the hose has a good seal on the PVC pipe or its suction power won’t be as effective. Let the vacuum run for 3 minutes or so.

Step 4: Check the vacuum for algae water and other debris

After 3 minutes has passed, turn off the vacuum and check it to see if you were able to get anything out. You’ll likely find algae, dirt, dust, and/or insects in the vacuum alongside all the water that had been backed up. Toss the junk, and you’re done!

If you don’t have a shop vac, you can also try unclogging your condensate drain line with a garden hose. 

Here’s how:

Step 1: Connect your garden hose to the end of your condensate drain 

You’ll want to make sure you create a seal around the hose/drain connection by placing your hand around the connection. This will provide a stronger burst of water when you turn the hose on. 

Step 2: Turn on the hose for 5 seconds

These short spurts of water will usually help to break up any clogs inside the drain.

Step 3: Repeat step 2

Continue to repeat step 2 until there is no longer dirt/debris coming out of your condensate drain.

If you don’t feel comfortable unclogging your own drain line or your drain line is still clogged after you’ve tried the steps listed above, it’s time to contact a professional. 

Schedule service!

Bonus: How to avoid future drain line clogs

Avoiding clogged drain lines is easy if you invest in annual tune-ups for your AC system. Typically, technicians will check your drain line as a part of a routine maintenance visit and clear out any debris or build-up that they notice, preventing your drain line from backing up in the first place.

If your system does get clogged, you can easily prevent costly water damage if your system has a float switch. A float switch detects when water is backing up due to a clogged condensate line and shuts off your cooling system, preventing it from producing any more water and leaking everywhere.

On your next maintenance visit, we recommend asking your technician to install a float switch for you and to double-check the cleanliness of your air conditioner’s drain line.

Want professional help with your clogged AC drain? Hire George Brazil 

If you’ve tried to unclog your AC condensate drain and it’s still clogged, it’s time to reach out for help. We’ve had years of experience helping homeowners with all kinds of AC repairs, so you can rest assured that we can clean your AC drain and diagnose any issues quickly and accurately. 

Schedule service!