5 Steps to Clear a Clogged AC Drain Line

Apr 18, 2022

Since your air conditioner’s drain line is responsible for removing condensation from your evaporator coil, it’s a critical component of your HVAC system. Though homeowners should have an HVAC professional regularly clean and maintain their drain lines, many don’t, resulting in clogs from debris, mold, bacteria, and sludge build-up. A clogged drain line can harm your AC and cause water damage to your home, as water will overflow from the condensate pan rather than pass through your drain line.

If you haven’t had an HVAC professional regularly clean your line, you should know the main signs of a clogged AC drain line and the five AC drain line clearing steps a professional will usually follow to remove the clog.

Signs You Have a Clogged AC Drain Line

Due to the damage a blocked AC drain line can do to your HVAC system, you’ll want to hire a professional as fast as possible to unclog your system. To act quickly, you should know the main signs of a clogged line. These primary warning signs include: 

  • Overflowing drain pan: Your water pan should never overflow with water. If you notice your drain pan is overflowing, the most likely cause is that your drain is clogged, and the condensation can’t drain out of your unit like it’s supposed to.
  • Moldy or musty smells: When your vents are putting out musty-smelling air, or you notice a moldy smell near your indoor AC unit, you could have a clog. Since a clog will cause bad-smelling mold and sludge to build up in your drain line, an HVAC technician should inspect your unit for a blockage right after you notice any strange smells around your unit or in your home’s air.
  • Poor AC performance: Another sign of a clogged AC drain line is if your AC unit isn’t cooling your home efficiently or if it won’t turn on. While other issues might be at fault, a clogged drain line can significantly impact the performance of your system and cause it to not power up.
  • Notifications from a monitoring device: Some HVAC units have advanced technology that monitors the system for clogs. If you get a notification from this monitoring technology about a clog, you should have an HVAC technician inspect your unit immediately. 

How an HVAC Professional Will Clear Your Clogged Drain Line

When you notice any of the signs above, it’s time to call an HVAC technician to inspect your AC and clear the drain line if they discover a clog. Once they begin the AC drain line clearing process, you can expect them to follow these five steps:

1. Turn Off the AC

To ensure safety while removing the clog, an HVAC technician will turn off your AC system before performing any additional work. By shutting down the AC unit, the HVAC technician protects themselves from injury and your AC system from any additional issues related to condensate build-up.

2. Inspect the Drain Pan and Remove Any Standing Water

After the technician turns off the unit, they’ll look at your AC’s drain pan to see if there’s any standing water. If they find standing water, they’ll usually remove it via a wet vac or soak it up with rags. Since standing water can cause mold to grow in the drain pan, the technician should also clean the pan to ensure you won’t have to deal with mold in the future.

3. Remove the Clog

Once the drain pan is clean, the HVAC technician will unclog the drain line. They’ll start by removing any debris they can see in the drain pipe. Next, they’ll likely use a wet vac or shop vacuum to suck up the clog. However, they could also use a drain snake or a hose to remove any debris causing the clog. To verify they’ve removed the clog, they’ll usually pour clean water into the drain line and see if it flows through quickly.

4. Clean Drain Line With Vinegar or a Commercial Cleaner

With the clog removed, the technician will move on to cleaning out your drain line to ensure no dangerous bacteria, mold, or other debris is still inside it once they leave. The technician will likely pour distilled vinegar or another commercial cleaner into your drain line to clean it. 

5. Turn the AC Back On and Ensure It Works

After the technician removes the clog and cleans your drain line, they’ll check that your AC is working at its best again. During this final step, they’ll reinstall any parts of the AC they might have removed, and then they’ll turn your system back on. Before they leave, they’ll make sure your AC is working appropriately and the drain line is removing condensate as it should. 

Choose Newcomb and Company for AC Drain Line Clearing and Maintenance Services in Raleigh

If you need AC drain line service in Raleigh, Wilmington, or the surrounding areas, turn to Newcomb and Company. Our team of HVAC professionals regularly provides AC drain line clearing and cleaning services to homeowners. Since preventative maintenance and regular inspections from a trained technician can prevent clogs from forming in the first place, we also offer annual maintenance contracts where our team will inspect and maintain your HVAC system throughout the year.

Learn more about our air conditioner repair and maintenance services today. If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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