How to Unclog an AC Drain Line By Yourself?

According to reports a large percentage of Americans consider summer as the best season of the year. This is quite understandable, as they get to enjoy warmer weather, longer evenings, garden barbecues, and other fun outdoor activities.

However, while the summer brings along with it many things to enjoy, it’s also synonymous with one thing most people don’t like – heat. Due to excessive heat, the indoors can quickly become unbearable during the summer, which nobody is likely to like.

That’s why it’s important to regularly maintain your AC unit ahead of the summer by regularly unclogging its drain line. In this article, we’ll show you how to unclog AC drain line and clean an air conditioner, and we will also give you different tips for general AC maintenance.

If for some reason, you like staying indoors during the summer, you need to ensure your AC unit is always in peak conditions. This won’t only prolong its life but will also ensure a cooler air conditioning effect.

How do you know it’s clogged?

Your AC drain line usually gets blocked when the drainage system has buildup within it, causing your AC unit not to operate as it should. Wondering how to know your AC drain line is clogged? Watch out for the following indicators:

  • Your indoor unit’s drain pan is full of water.
  • AC unit is producing moldy air.
  • AC won’t turn on or malfunctions when it does.
  • You may notice water damage around your air conditioner.

It’s also worth noting that some modern, smart air conditioners come with sensors that help detect when the drainage system is clogged. Despite that, though, it’s always advisable to see if the drain pan is full of water when cleaning or maintaining the AC unit. What you’ll need

  • Rags
  • Distilled vinegar
  • Stiff wire brush
  • Funnel
  • Wet/dry vacuum
  • Duct tape

How to clean your AC drain?

clean your AC drain

To troubleshoot your drain line, you don’t need the help of a professional. However, you may need a helping hand while you go about it, depending on your AC drain line’s condition. Below are the steps you need to follow.

Turn the system off

The first thing you need to do is to turn off your system before you go ahead to locate the drain line. Apart from turning the system off, try to find the breaker box and turn off the AC unit. 

Many AC units also feature a shut-off box around the service disconnect, also known as the outdoor unit. We also advise you to turn it off while carrying out a repair or maintenance on your unit. This will guarantee a safe work environment.

Find where the line is

Now, you need to find the drain line. Usually located around the AC unit, the drain line, as most people call it, is a PVC pipe that leads to the drain pan. Before you proceed to the step after this, get rid of the excess water in the drain pan, using dry rags or a dry/wet vacuum.

Also, cleaning the drain pan with water and soap is a nice idea, in case any mold or bacteria has been accumulating in it.

Locate the point of access

The next step is locating the drain line’s point of access. The drain will most often feature a vent that’s shaped like T, alongside a PVC cover. Take the cover off and examine the drain.

The drain can be unclogged or flushed through the access point/port. Below are the different means through which you can unclog your drain line after finding the access point.

Try unclogging it with:

Once you have identified the point of access, try to unclog the AC drain line using one of the following methods:

Drain brush

Once you find the access point, you can unclog the clogged AC drain line using a drain brush. The brush will help you dislodge all the accumulation within the drain line, so you can use water to easily flush whatever that is left. The DESIN Flexible Drain Brush is one of the best drain brushes for handling this task.

Vacuum cleaner

Using suction from a vacuum cleaner is one of the most common ways of flushing or unclogging a drain line. You can use a shop vacuum or a good handheld vacuum to do this.

When you are done, try to check the collection canister of the vacuum so you would see if the clog has truly been removed. This is a very effective method.

Drain Gun

Another way to clean condensate drain lines is by blowing it with a drain gun. With drain guns like the DiversiTech GG-1 Charles Gallo Drain Gun, you can instantly blow out everything that may be hiding within the drain pipes.

Running Water

Another effective method of unclogging your HVAC drain line is by using running water, preferably from a garden hose.

With the intensity of the running water, the small clogs within your drain system can be easily pushed you. However, we advise you to be careful when using this method so that it wouldn’t cause other leak issues.

Vinegar or bleach

Probably the most effective way of unclogging your AC drain line is by using vinegar or bleach. To do this, pour a cup of vinegar or bleach into the drain system.

With this, algae and mildew will find it almost impossible to develop. Therefore, you will be able to enjoy your air conditioner at its peak powers when the summer comes.

How to prevent it from clogging?

clogging for ac unit

After a while, it’s completely a normal thing for mildew and mold to grow within your drain lines. But thankfully, you can follow the following tips to prevent future clogs.

Regular cleaning

To ensure your AC unit performs at optimum levels for years, you must maintain it regularly. One of the most effective ways of maintaining an AC unit is by replacing its air filters regularly.

Other maintenance tips include regularly checking your drain pan to see if it is full and has consistent tune-ups to ensure the system performs at the highest level. If you maintain the unit regularly, it will save you from expensive repairs.

Flush your drain lines

Another effective way of preventing future blockage or clogging is by using warm water to flush your drain lines routinely. For the best outcomes, you could use bleach as an alternative to water so that it will eliminate any mildew, algae, or mold that may be growing within your drain lines.

Drain line treatment tabs

Another excellent method of unclogging your AC drain line is by using treatment tabs. Treatment tabs like SimpleAir’s Clean Flow Tabs help to maintain free-flowing drain lines associated with all HVAC systems. These tabs prevent development in drain pipes that could cause overflow and clogging.

Final thoughts

Almost everybody around the world looks forward to summertime. While the summer is probably the most exciting season of the year, the excessive heat it comes with can be unendurable. To fight the heat that the summer comes with, you need to ensure your AC unit or mini-split is maintained constantly by cleaning its drain line regularly.

Thankfully, we have discussed everything you need to know on how to unclog AC drain line in this article. By strictly following our tips, there’s no need to invite a professional to help maintain your AC unit ever.


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