Is Your Air Conditioner Not Draining Properly?
Written By: Alexis Bennett
Edited by: Andrew Dunn
Have you cleaned your A/C condensate drain recently? If not, your air conditioner might not be draining correctly, and you should take action immediately.
If your HVAC drain line is clogging, it can cause the drip pan to overflow, causing thousands of dollars in water damage.
While this is a stressful situation, it is a relatively easy problem to solve. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know to maintain your drain line properly.
We will cover:
- How do you know if your air conditioner drip pan is clogged?
- How often should you check to make sure your air conditioner is draining correctly?
- Are there things you can do to make sure your air conditioner drains?
- What are the risks of a clogged air conditioner for homeowners?
- And more!
If you are a new homeowner, you have likely never thought about your air conditioner drip tray. However, keeping the HVAC system drip tray or condensate drain clear is critical.
In a short time, the pan can overflow, damaging sheetrock, electrical components, and insulation, leading to dangerous mold and mildew spores.
What's In This Guide?
When Should You Check Your AC Drain Line?
Knowing when you should check your air conditioner drip tray or take preventative measures is the best way to protect yourself from costly ac drain line clogs.
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Your AC Is Not Cooling Properly
When you turn the temperature down on your thermostat, and the temperature does not go down, your air conditioner will continuously run. When your air conditioner is always on, a lot of condensation develops.
If you have a clogged condensate drain, the drip pan will overflow quickly. So, it is essential to check the drip pan every time your AC needs service.
Temperatures Are High
When your air conditioner is working hard, it creates more condensation. So, it is a good idea to check the drain pan before the temperatures start to soar.
You Have A Ceiling Leak Or Find Standing Water
One of the tell-tale signs that you have a clogged AC drain line is a leak in your ceiling. You will usually notice these leaks under your air conditioner access point.
If your indoor air handler is in your home instead of in the attic, you may also notice standing water under the unit. The same is true if you live on the top floor of an apartment or condominium building.
There Is Mildew On Your Ceiling
Not all homeowners will experience a significant roof leak. Instead, you may see mildew under the condensate pan.
If the climate in your area is mild, your air conditioner does not have to work as hard to maintain the temperature. Therefore, your unit is not creating as much condensation.
That means it might take you longer to notice there is a problem. Instead of soaking through your sheetrock, the water may drip onto the insulation, causing mold and mildew to develop.
How Can You Keep Your Condensate Drain Line Working Properly?
Drain pans and drain lines must be kept clear. Otherwise, they can overflow, causing significant water damage.
Many homeowners are caught off guard when they notice water dripping from their ceiling. In a short time, sheetrock can come crashing down.
You must keep this essential air conditioning component working correctly. Do not worry, though. Here are a few DIY tips to help you avoid damage from a clogged drain.
Change Your Air Filters Regularly
Changing your air filters is an integral part of properly maintaining your unit. It is so beneficial for your air conditioner unit that some home warranty companies, like American Home Shield, give out free air filters.
If you are not a member of a home service club that provides free air filters, you can pick them up at your local grocery store.
Clean Your Drain Pipe
You may need to clean your condensate drain from time to time. There are a few simple steps you can follow to keep the lines clean.
1. Turn Off Your Air Conditioner
When you service your air conditioner, the power needs to be off. First, turn it off at the thermostat. Then, locate the power switch near your outside unit and flip that switch to off.
2. Find The Drain Line Outside
Most air conditioners have a drain line that goes outside. It is made of PVC pipe and is usually near your condenser.
Once you locate it, stick a wire brush into it, use it to loosen clogs. Then, place a bucket under the drain pipe.
3. Vacuum The Line
Using a ShopVac or wet/dry vacuum, suck everything out of the drain pipe. You will need to make sure the end of the vacuum is securely fastened to the drain line with tape when you do this; otherwise, there will not be enough suction.
4. Clean The Drip Tray
You will also need to clean the drip tray, especially if water has been collecting in it. Use the vacuum to remove any moisture and debris. Then, wash it with soap.
Please do not use a chemical cleaner. It can react with bleach in the next step.
5. Clean The Condensate Pipe
Next, locate the PVC pipe connected to the drip tray. In it, pour a mixture of one part water to one part bleach.
Wait about thirty minutes, then check the bucket you left outside to see if the water came through. If so, go back inside and pour water in the vent tee located on top of the condensate pipe.
Again check outside to make sure everything is flowing out properly. If the water is not coming out, repeat the steps or put in a service call with a plumber.
For more information on cleaning your condensate drain pipe and drip pan, check out this video.
Schedule Routine Maintenance For Your A/C Unit
Okay, so this one is not DIY. However, it is the best way to ensure your air conditioner is working optimally.
During a semi-annual maintenance appointment, your HVAC technician will check your entire system for any maintenance issues. When you schedule semi-annual maintenance, an HVAC technician will check your indoor and outdoor air conditioning units.
The technician may also top off your unit with refrigerant and clean your evaporator coils and indoor air handler to ensure your entire air conditioning system runs efficiently. During the visit, your HVAC technician will check the condensate line and, if necessary clean it, as well.
Final Advice To Help Keep Your Air Conditioner Draining Properly
Properly maintaining your air conditioner is essential and it is the best way to prevent malfunctions. A clogged air conditioner drain is a minor repair, but there could be a more costly underlying issue. Buying a home warranty plan is an excellent way to prepare for minor service needs and major system replacements.