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How to Remove a Clog and Maintain an Air Conditioning Drain Line

November 14, 2012 by admin | Category: Educational, Helpful, InformationTags: , , , | Comments (0)

One of the most common reasons an air conditioning service technician is called is the condensate drain line has clogged. In most cases this is a huge waste of money. The fix is often simple and special tools are not required. To make this type of service call worse, a backed-up condensate drain line is an avoidable problem. Simple maintenance twice a year keeps even the most used air conditioning condensate drain line from getting a clog.

Over time sludge forms in an air conditioner’s drain line. This happens because the normal current from condensate is not enough to flush the line. Tiny particles form along the bottom of the long horizontal parts of the drain line. Once in a while, some sludge will break free and travel to a restriction, where it will settle. Once enough sludge particles collect in one spot, a clog is created. Then the water will back up into the air conditioning drain pan. After the pan is full, water will overflow into the house. This is when most homeowners notice the problem.

Turn the air conditioner off at the thermostat. There is no reason to add more water to the problem. Take the panel off of the inside air conditioning unit where the evaporator coil is. Two copper lines and the drain line connect to the evaporator coil. Inspect the drain pan. If the drain is blocked, the pan will be full of water. Use a wet/dry vacuum to clean the drain pan. Place a rag over the spot where the drain line enters the pan. This will help keep the mess to a minimum later.

Find where the condensate pipe exits the house. This is usually near the copper lines that connect to the outside air conditioning unit. Follow these lines back to the house. Look for a plastic pipe. It is usually one inch in diameter (black, grey or white). You may need to dig a small hole in the ground near the spot where the copper lines enter the house to find it. If the pipe stops underground, then this is the problem. Clean the dirt out of the end of the pipe, add a short piece of pipe and a 90-degree fitting to get the end of the pipe out of the ground. If the condensate line is not at the air conditioning unit you must walk around the house to find it. Look for a plastic pipe that sticks out of the ground for no apparent reason or a wet patch of dirt.

There should be a 90-degree fitting at the end of the condensate drain line. This fitting should not be glued on. Remove the fitting. Often this is the place where the clog forms. If so, removing the elbow releases the restriction and the sludge will flow freely. Use a wet/dry vacuum to stuck the sludge from the pipe. In most cases, this will completely free the drain. For extreme cases a hose will be needed. This is why you put a rag in the inside unit. Turn the water hose on. Fold the hose near the drain line to stop the water. Place the end of the hose against the end of the condensate line. Release the water for ONLY ONE SECOND. Allow the water to exit the pipe. The clog should break free. If not, repeat this step. Go inside, remove the rag and add water to the drain pan. Water should flow freely to the outside. When the blockage is free, reinstall the front panel of the inside unit and the elbow on the drain line outside.

Air conditioning condensate drain lines should have maintenance perform at least once per year, twice is better. This is a simple process. All that is needed to be done is pour 1/2 to 1 gallon of warm water down the drain. A lot of air conditioning systems have a T-fitting near the air handler. Open the top of the T-fitting and slowly pour the water down the drain. If your system does not have the T-fitting, then you must remove the evaporator coil cover to access the drain. Pour the water into the pan.

For more information, visit Factoidz:Air Conditioning Condensate Drain Cleaning and Maintenance

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