Air Conditioning Units produce one natural by product, Water! The method that this water is produced is just like the water that forms on the outside of a glass with ice in it. The warmer air from your home, meets the colder surface of the evaporator coil and naturally, condensation occurs. The bad part happens when you find the air conditioner drain line clogged and a water leak on the floor!
The water that comes from your AC Unit, runs down the sides of the coil and collects inside the condensate pan, eventually reaching the condensate drain and flowing off to the drain method your installer chose. When the condensation drain becomes gummed up or plugged, that same innocent water can back up and leak, and can literally ruin your life!
Cleaning Your AC Condensate Pan and Drain Line
Face it, if you are not going to have a service company come out and service your air conditioner every season, you are going to need to do a few things on your own. Fortunately, you can do this before an AC Water Leak happens! One method of maintaining a clean condensate line, is to use ac condensate pan tablets, like tablets or another anti fungal buildup method.
According to the Tampa Handyman, one method he uses is to just grab his wet/dry vacuum, and use it to draw all the build up from your drain line, from the outside of the home, where it exits! While this will work for some, there are a few other methods to clean your AC Condensate Drain as well.
Gravity or Pumped AC Condensate Drains
In almost every instance, you will have either:
Gravity Condensate Drain, where the water flows from your evaporator coil drain pan, directly into a small PVC drain line, and either into a drain system, in or outside your home.
As you can see in the top picture, the installer of this condensate line took the time to install a few extra pieces of the PVC drain, to facilitate the cleaning of the drain lines. Yours may or may not have these caps in place, but if you end up having to cut into the piping system to clean it, (common on older systems) you can rebuild it with the cleanouts in place! All pieces for the new drain can be picked up at a hardware store, for less than $10, or by clicking the links below.
Condensate Pump Drain System, where the water from your coil pan is piped into a small condensate pump, that automatically turns itself on and off as the water fills the collection tray.
In most cases, the PVC piping or clear plastic condensate hose, will fit directly into a hole on the top of the condensate pump, filling the reservoir. A second hose is then connected, to channel the water outside the home or into a drain system. Condensate pump systems are most commonly used in areas below the level of the homes drain.
Air Conditioner Condensate Pumps
Regardless of which system your AC system uses, almost all blockages occur in the small bend, called a trap. The trap system always holds a small amount of water, that is there to keep fumes and other objects from backing in to the system. Over time, gum builds up… the trap becomes clogged and you have a plugged ac line!
Cleaning Your AC Condensate Drain
The most common method of cleaning, is to gain access to your drain line… whether that is within a cleanout or from inside the evaporator coil drain pan, and simply flush the line with either compressed air or a water hose, forcing everything from the inside to outside. (Never flush water from outside the home, to the inside of the unit, a mess will occur!)
If you don't have access to an open end of the drain from inside, you may need to disconnect or cut the drain line to perform the cleaning.
This should be done at least once every year and more often in areas where you use air conditioning more than 6 months of the year! Doing so will prevent the AC drain from leaking water into the home!