How To Clean Your Air Conditioner’s Condensate Drain

A common reason people tend to call technicians for air conditioning repair is problems with the external unit that is responsible for expelling air and condensing water. The condensate drain is a ½ to 1 inch pipe, usually made of plastic or PVC, that is located near the outdoor unit and expels water that is caused by condensation around the evaporator coil.

Cleaning out this pipe is an easy task you can DIY. Lack of maintenance can result in the growth of harmful fungi, algae, and bacteria. The fungal spores can get backed up and recirculated in the room and cause allergies and illnesses. Another important reason this pipe needs regular maintenance is that the mechanical sludge and residue that builds up over time can obstruct the condensed water, which could leak into your walls and your home causing long-term and expensive water damage.

If you have a problem with your air conditioner, your technician may check the condensate drain as a part of the standard procedure to diagnose the problem. However, it can be useful to learn to diagnose any blockage and keep up with regular maintenance yourself so you can avoid having to call for air conditioning repairs every time.

What You Will Need

Cleaning out your air conditioning drain pipe will not require any special equipment. Often, you can simply use the chemicals or equipment you have around your home. There are two primary types of residue you should clean out, namely, mechanical sludge, and harmful germs/organic residue.

  • Firstly, you will need a dry/wet vacuum cleaner to pull out mechanical sludge that might be physically clogging up the pipe.
  • The drain pipe is often made of extremely sturdy and durable material. You should be able to use most household chemicals like bleach or vinegar to kill any bacteria, fungi, or any biological growth in the pipe.

How To Clean Your Air Conditioning Condensate Drain:

  • Before you begin cleaning, make sure the AC is turned off completely from the main switch.
  • Find the condensate drain. This should be a PVC or plastic pipe outdoors, that may be attached to the outdoor unit or the wall of your home.
  • First, we will remove the mechanical sludge. Use the vacuum to pull any blockage out of the pipe. You may need to use a rubber pipe attachment to create more suction. Hold the vacuum carefully in place until any blockage has been cleared.
  • After this, you will need to look for an access point in the drain line, either outdoors or from the drain pan below the evaporator coil inside the unit. You can use this port to pour in your germicidal chemicals.
  • You can use bleach, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or any antibacterial soap solution mixed with a bit of hot water to clean out the pipe. Since this is the exit pipe, you need not worry about these chemicals affecting the air conditioning.
  • Let the chemicals sit for about 30 minutes and pour water through. Ask a friend to check if the water is running freely from the outdoor pipe.

This should resolve any issues you have. If not, you may have to call in a technician. But making this a part of your bi-yearly or yearly home maintenance routine will go a long way in preventing drain pipe related issues and keep your air conditioning system working as well as it should.

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