What to Do When The AC Drain Line is Clogged?

Is your AC drain line clogged? Learn what to do and find reliable AC repair services near you or connect with Sandium. Get help with air conditioner pipe issues with us!

Updated on Oct 22, 2023
5 min read
What to Do When The AC Drain Line is Clogged?

An obvious sign of a clogged AC pipe is that the air conditioning system has stopped working. The AC drain line is responsible for removing excess condensation from the unit. Clogged AC drain line can result in flooding around the air handler unit. It can also cause troubles with optimal cooling. A few Bay Areas homeowners complain of a moldy smell around the house because of a build-up somewhere in the system. The air conditioner in this case would still be running, but with a bad odor.

This post will help you understand why drain pipes get clogged and the steps you can do to fix it.

What Clogs an AC Pipe?

Algae is the primary cause of a clogged AC pipe. Drain pipe can get humid because of warm air blowing over the HVAC unit’s cold evaporator coil. It can also result in algae growth. Your air conditioner’s drain pipe is more likely to clog if it runs constantly. Mold, mildew, and other types of fungi and bacteria growth can also cause issues in the air conditioner.

Unclogging the Air Conditioner Pipe

You should be able to easily fix smaller and regular clogs without any trouble. Don’t use bleach to unclog the drain since that can easily damage essential components in the air conditioning system. These are tried and tested steps that can be performed for getting rid of algae, mold and mildew in the air conditioner.

1. Turn Off Power

You need to turn off power to the air conditioner at the breaker and the thermostat.

2. Find the AC Drain Pipe

Generally, a cylindrical PVC pipe would be situated near the condenser unit. You would require a bucket if the drain line is full.

3. Identify the Drain Line’s Point of Access

Most drain lines have a T-shaped vent with a cap that covers the top of the drain. You would need to remove this cap for inspecting the blockage.

4. Assess the Blockage

You need to assess the AC drain pipe and see if the clog is visible. You should try and remove the clog manually if you see what is blocking the line. However, make sure you do this while wearing protective gloves. Make sure you don’t push the clog further down while attempting to remove it. Move to the next step if the clog is outside your reach.

5. Vinegar Solution Flush

Vinegar is acidic in nature and has tremendous cleaning properties. You can mix the vinegar with soap and warm water if the smell is too strong. Pour a quarter cup of white distilled vinegar in the PVC drain pipe. Stop pouring once the drain line is full.

6. Leave it in for 30 Minutes

Leave the solution in for 30 minutes. After that flush the pipe with some water. Make sure the water is flowing in the right direction. If the water is not flowing normally, the clog is probably too big for DIY remedies. This would need to be addressed by a professional air conditioner servicing company.

7. Repeat

Air conditioners in California are prone to developing clogs because they are more or less operational throughout the year. You should repeat steps 1 - 5 every month to prevent the buildup of clogs. 

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