How to Unclogging an AC Drain Line – DIY

A clogged AC drain line is a considerably common reason for system failure. The best way to avoid a clogged AC condensate drain line is through regular and preventative AC maintenance. If you suspect your AC drain line is clogged, follow the tips below for how to unclogging an AC drain line.

What Is an AC Drain Line?

An AC condensate drain line is responsible for taking out the condensation that’s generated by the evaporator coil. This drain line carries moisture out of the house. The small pipe commonly has a slow drip of water trickling from it when the AC unit is on.

This line typically works fine, but it can get clogged from time to time. If a clog occurs, the water will back up and potentially cause damage to your air conditioner.

Unclogging an AC Drain Line

If your condensate drain line is clogged, you can likely remove the clog yourself. It is not difficult to do the task. Follow the steps below to learn how to unclog an AC drain line DIY.

  1. Turn off the power to your AC unit.
    You should always turn off your system before you do any action with your AC unit. This task is for safety reasons as well as to protect the ac system from additional damage.
  2. Check the drain pan
    Locate the drain line. Most AC drain lines are located outside, near the condenser unit.
  3. Unclog the drain line
    Remove any visible debris from the ac drain or drainpipe opening. Next, clear the clogged drain using suction from a shop vacuum or wet vac. Alternatively, you might use a garden hose or plumbers snake to remove the clog. If successful, you should find a dark mass suctioned or pushed out of the drain line when checking the vacuum. You might also test that the line is clear by pouring a small amount of clean water through the drain and observing its ability to flow out.
  4. Clean the drain line
    Clean the drain pipe using a commercially available cleaner on PVC piping once the clogged line has been cleared. Leave it for 30 minutes. Then flush the tube out with water to ensure everything is flowing freely and operating as it should.
  5. Rebuild the Drain Line
    Once the drain has been cleaned and tested, Reinstall any parts, turn the power ON and check if everything is functioning correctly.

Never pour bleach or other household cleaners into your condensate line. These materials can damage your system and your home. Only use cleaners that are made specifically for cleaning condensate lines. Vinegar and distilled water can help eliminate and prevent algae and bacteria growth from the drain line.

What Causes a Clogged AC Drain Line?

Because the drain line is an enclosed, wet space, it provides the perfect breeding grounds for mold and algae to thrive. If not drained regularly, all of these items could cause a clog in the line. Once enough buildup accrues, the blockage will become too large and create a clog in the pipe, causing water to back up into the AC drain pan.

If you are not unclogging an AC drain line immediately, water will continue to build up in your condenser unit. Even worse, the water can start to build up in your unit’s indoor evaporator pan, which can potentially cause damage to your system or home.

Signs of a Clogged AC Drain Line

One of the most apparent signs of a clogged AC pipe is that your air-conditioning system has stopped working. The most common signs that you may have a drain line are the following:

  • The AC won’t start
  • AC is dripping water
  • The drain pan leaks
  • A moldy smell throughout the house.

If you have a situation with a clogged air conditioner drain line, you can follow the DIY steps above on how to unclogging an ac drain line. While the steps above are simple and easy, it’s important to schedule regular HVAC maintenance. That’s the only way to ensure your air conditioner runs as efficiently as possible. Also, remember that a clogged air conditioner drain line is leading to a much bigger problem.

About Mas Broto

Have been in the heating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry for over 20 years. He is person that will grow and thrive to learn more about the HVAC industry throughout his career. Mas Broto is also a blogger, who's dedicated to bringing you the best knowledge to get ahead in the game of life.