Unsure if your AC drain line is clogged? Here are five telltale signs.

White gloves working on preventing breaks

Most homeowners hear of the word “clog” and think of their sinks and toilets — backed up with hair, food particles, grease and oil, paper products and all other kinds of debris that can stop up your pipes. But when it comes to your air conditioner’s condensate drain lines, clogs are easily overlooked. After all, if only water flows through them, what could possibly cause a clog? You’d be surprised. Your air conditioner’s condensate drain line is typically a white PVC pipe designed to whisk away the excess moisture produced by your system and deliver it outside. As your AC’s evaporator coil converts humidity into water, it empties into the drain pan and then is released through the drainpipe. Along the journey outside, however, this water can collect dust, dirt and other microbes that can start to stick to the inside of your drainpipes, becoming a fertile breeding ground for mold and other fungi to grow and cause blockage. This sediment can be detrimental to your air conditioner, preventing proper drainage and eroding the existing pipes.

1. Leading / standing water.

One of the most common signs of a (clogged condensate drain line) is the presence of standing water around your air conditioner unit. As mold and bacteria begin to build up in your pipes, the excess water exiting your house will be trapped and start accumulating in the drip pan.

2. Moldy smell.

Does something smell dank and musty inside your house whenever the AC kicks on? That fetid odor could be mold and mildew growing inside your clogged condensate drain line. Not only is it the smell unpleasant, the fungal spores being circulated through your air vents can irritate allergies, asthma and cause other serious health issues.

3. Water stains and damage.

Look around your air conditioning unit or by the AC’s fan. If you are noticing dark, discolored areas of wall or flooring that are damp to the touch, something is leaking, likely due to an obstruction in the (AC condensate drain). If left unchecked, leaks can cause serious damage to your home and it is best to consult a professional if you suspect your AC is leaking water into your walls.

4. AC turns off before it gets to temperature.

Almost all modern air conditioning units are built with a mechanism that will shut the system off if too much water is collecting in the drip pan due to a clog or obstruction in the drain line. On hot days, if you’re noticing that your air conditioning unit is cutting off before it hits the desired temperature, check to see if the drip pan is full or if there are other signs of standing water.

5. Rust stains in or around your house.

If you are noticing unsightly rust stains around the outside your home, especially where your AC drain lines are, you more than likely have a bad clog on your hands. When rust stains are visible, the blockage within the pipes has gotten so severe that the pipes themselves are actually corroding. If you are seeing rust, your best bet is to call a professional for an estimate on what mitigation options are available.

DIY: Unclog Your AC Drain

If you have detected blockage in your AC drain lines, we recommend connecting with technician but, you can try to remedy the problem using just a few household items.

  • First, turn off the power to your AC unit at the circuit breaker.
  • Locate your drainage pipe and disconnect it from where it is attached to the drip pan.
  • Using a shop vac, suck as much of the blockage and excess water from the pipe as possible. If stubborn deposits remain, you can use a bottle brush or other wire cleaning instrument to try to dislodge the debris.
  • To deodorize the pipes and prevent the growth of future molds and bacteria, rinse the AC condensate drain with white vinegar. Do NOT use bleach — while bleach is effective in killing unwanted microbial growth, it can also damage your air conditioning system if it has any copper tubing.

Checking you AC line

In humid climates like Georgia, it is recommended that you check your AC drain lines on a monthly basis during peak usage for any signs of clogs. Preventing the buildup of any harmful bacteria, mold, mildew or other microbial growth will ensure that your air conditioning unit continues to operate at its peak performance when you need it the most. If you still aren’t getting the most, feel free to contact a service provider at contact a professional at Gainesville Mechanical to send out a technician for an inspection to get the right professional for your job!

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