Dealing with clogged air conditioner lines

While everyone knows that an air conditioner is there to cool a home, most don’t realize that it also functions to remove humidity as well. When it gets hot and sticky out – like it does here in the Tampa, FL area – it ends up taking a lot of moisture out of the air. When it does that, it has to put it somewhere.
Ideally, there is a thing in your AC called a condensate drip pan, where the water flows into a drain tube that leads outside your home. Unfortunately, this tube can get clogged now and then and when it does, it could mean big problems for both your AC and your home.
How does it get clogged?

Any of the water that an AC unit accumulates usually has microscopic bacteria and other tiny particles it collects from the air. As it moves through your drain line, it leaves behind a residue that builds up. Over time, algae, mold and wet clumps of dust and dirt build up, eventually clogging the line.
How can you tell if the line is blocked?

When the clog occurs, one of two things will happen. In modern AC units, a sensor is tripped that’ll shut down the AC unit altogether. While it’s an inconvenience, it sure beats having the drip pan overflow that causes water damage.

If your AC doesn’t have an air handler (the feature that helps trip the AC in case of buildup), then you probably won’t notice the problem until you see the water overflowing through your ceiling or out of your vents. If you notice this, it’s time to shut off the air conditioner immediately.
How do you unclog it?

First, we really recommend that you call professional to get this fixed. Yes, it’s a service call and yes, it’s going to call you money – that’s the bad news. But the good news is – it’s a pretty quick fix for a certified professional. So if you want to save yourself a headache, call someone in who’s trained on how to deal with it.

But if you want to give it a go yourself, you need to start by finding the air handler’s condensate drip pan. In most air conditioners, you’ll find it at the very bottom of the unit. Slowly slide the pan out and use a wet-vac to remove the water. Once it’s emptied, make sure you use some hot water to disinfect the area and kill the bacteria. You’re going to want to remove all the buildup off the bottom of the pan.

Once that’s done, you’ll have to try and clear the actual drain line itself. The most common ways to unclog the line are to try to use suction with a vacuum or blast some air in through a compressor. Once the line is clear, you’re going to want to clean out the tube as well. Pour about a gallon of vinegar down the line and that’ll help kill off all of the remaining remaining gunk like mold or algae.

Again, cleaning out the line won’t be something all of you can do. Certain models are harder to get to than others. When it’s done, it should be done the right way and don’t right away. If you need help with unclogging your air conditioner’s drain line, give us a call today!

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