How To Unclog AC Drain Line

You might have heard about an AC drain condensate line and how important it is for your cooling system. This line, along with the evaporator coil, helps remove the humidity or moisture from the air and then convert it into water. 

Once it is converted into water, the condensate line then drains it out of the outdoor AC unit. Now, this whole process is quite effortless unless your AC drain condensate line gets clogged and causes problems. 

So, to know more about how a clogged condensate line can affect your AC’s performance and how you can unclog it, read on!

What Causes AC Drain Lines to Clog?

Before you start with the cleaning process of unclogging an AC drain line, you need to know what causes the line to clog. 

As mentioned above, the evaporator coil converts humidity and moisture into water. However, what if the humid air contains a lot of dirt, dust, and other such things? Hence, once this air condensates in the coil, there’s a lot of accumulation of these particles, which then passes onto the condensate line. 

So, after a lot of time, your drain line can get accumulated with dust and dirt and, thus, get clogged up. 

How Do You Know if Your AC Drain Line Is Clogged?

If you are unsure whether your AC drain is clogged, then the good thing is that there are sure signs you can look out for. 

These signs include: 

  • Unpleasant odor, typically musty and moldy, coming either near the indoor unit or even from the air coming from vents or registers
  • Standing or accumulated water present near the AC’s indoor unit 
  • The inability of the AC unit in cooling your house 
  • The inability of the AC unit in turning ‘on’ 
  • AC unit shutting down continuously 
  • Water damage present around the AC’s indoor unit or the water pan is overflowing 

So, on noticing any of the above problems, consider checking your AC drain line or calling up a professional to do it for you. 

What Happens When AC Drain is Clogged?

What if you let your AC drain remain clogged? Is there anything that can happen to your AC if the drain remains clogged? 

Well, yes, if you have an AC drain clogged, you might want to look out for the below problems: 

Formation of Ice: When your AC drain is clogged, there can be the formation of ice anywhere near the drain line or even the AC coils. This can potentially damage your entire AC system. 

Overflowing Water Pan: As mentioned above, if you see that the water pan is overflowing, it signifies a clogged-up AC drain. However, it can further spill inside your air conditioning system and cause problems. 

Water Collecting On Floor: Again, you’ll probably find stagnant water near the indoor unit of your AC unit. This can cause many problems and ruin your furnishing, flooring, ceiling, and cost you in the long run. 

Water Leaks: Keep in mind that if you have loose-fitting drain pipes, then there’s the issue of water leaks. A clogged and loose drain pipe can cause many issues, such as water leaking from the ceilings, along with damage to the drywall. This can cause water damage to a lot of areas in your house. 

Hence, it becomes imperative to take notice of this clogged AC drain line as soon as possible and get it unclogged and cleaned. 

How Much Does it Cost to Unclog AC Drain?

Depending on whether you’re planning to do it yourself or getting a professional to do the job for you, the cost may differ. 

However, unclogging an AC drain on average may cost you anywhere between $75 to $250. Also, keep in mind that if there’s a problem with the evaporator coil, then the cost can go as high as $400 and reach $900. 

Hence, it is always a good idea to ask a professional regarding the rates. 

If not, then there are certain do-it-yourself tasks that you can try for unclogging an AC drain if you’re confident enough. This will cost comparatively lesser than going for a professional repair service. Yet here, there are risks that the hacks may not work as promised. 

How Do I Unclog My AC Drain Line?

If you are planning to unclog your AC drain line all by yourself, there are certain steps that you can follow. Let’s see what you require and a step-by-step guide on how to do it. 

Step 1: Get All The Materials Required

Your first step to unclog an AC drain condensate is to get all the materials you require to ensure a hassle-free process. 

For this, the material requirements are: 

  • Bucket 
  • Protective gloves
  • Vinegar
  • Soap
  • Water (warm)
  • Cup

Once you have the above things, you can then proceed to step 2. 

Step 2: Turn the AC Power Off

It is a must that before you begin any such work, you turn off the thermostat and the breaker to turn off the power supply. 

Step 3: Search For the AC’s Drain Line

To begin the work with the AC drain line, you need to search for it. However, it is quite easy to find as the drain line is a type of PVC pipe present near the condenser unit outside.

Here, don’t forget to carry a bucket as the drain line might be full. 

Step 4: Find The Point of Access on the Drain Line

Once you have found the drain line, you need to look out for a point of access to find the clogged-up areas or the blockage. 

Tip: Most of the time, there will be a vent having a T-shape and a cap that covers the drain’s top portion. Just remove the cap and start inspecting.

Step 5: Inspect the Clog

After finding the point of access, make sure you inspect the clog properly. Now, if you notice that the clog can be manually removed, ensure that you wear protective gloves and remove it. 

If you notice that the clog cannot be removed manually as it is too low, proceed to the next step. 

Step 6: Make Use of Vinegar Solution

To remove any clog near the bottom areas of the pipe, you can use a vinegar solution (or bleach too).

Due to the acidic properties of vinegar, it can act as a cleaning material. However, if you find that it is too strong, you can add soap and warm water to it. 

Then, take a cup, fill it quarterly with the vinegar solution, and add it to the drain line via the opened area. Continue doing so till the drain line is full. 

Step 7: Drain Out the Solution After 30 Minutes

Let the solution be there for around 30 minutes. After that, flush it out of the pipe with water. 

In this step, take extra care that the water is flowing properly. If not, then the clog requires professional removal. 

Hence, this way, you can unclog your AC drain line easily and all by yourself. 

Can You Pour Drano Down an AC Drain Line?

Even though you can pour Drano down the AC drain line, it is probably a bad idea to do so because of the following reasons: 

  • It can get too caustic and hence, is capable of damaging the AC drain line. 
  • Moreover, Drano is designed to clear out food or grease, which usually isn’t the cause of a clogged AC drain line. 

Hence, a safer bet would be to go for a vinegar solution. 

Is Vinegar or Bleach a Better Option for AC Drain Line?

When you are searching for unclogging an AC drain line, you’ll mostly get two suggestions – bleach and vinegar. So, which one is better than the other? 

Well, if you have both options available, it is better to go for vinegar. It is because bleach is extremely strong. Hence, it can damage the internal structure of the AC drain line. 

On the other hand, vinegar is less strong than bleach, but it is also a more practical option for cleaning. Hence, it can help in unclogging your AC drain line without causing any damage to it. 

How to Keep AC Drain Line Clear?

If you wish to keep your AC drain line clear, then consider following the tips given below: 

  • Clean your air filters as they can significantly reduce the build-up of dirt or dust in the evaporator coil
  • Consider following the vinegar-warm water trick at least once a month to ensure that your drain line remains unclogged. 
  • Getting a condensate trap installed can also help in reducing the clogging of the drain line. 
  • Lastly, consider getting your drain lines cleaned or serviced once a year by a professional. 

Final Thoughts

To conclude, keeping your AC drain condensate line is necessary as it can affect your AC’s performance and cause other issues. 

Hence, to get it unclogged, follow the vinegar trick for small clogging. However, if that doesn’t work, make sure you contact a professional as soon as possible.