People always ask me how to maintain their air conditioning systems. I get it. No one wants to face an air conditioning emergency. No one wants to deal with hot, humid, sticky homes during a Florida heat wave. Absolutely no one wants to pay for repairs that could have been avoided.
So I give them one easy way to avoid costly repairs: Clean your AC drain line.
One simple task to protect your most expensive investments.
Did you know that your HVAC system is one of the top five items you should maintain to lower the cost of homeownership? The more expensive the item, the more you save in the end by taking good care of it.
Heating and Air Conditioners are one of the most expensive items you’ll purchase in your lifetime, right after your home and your car. That’s why you want to take care of it.
If you have a can-do spirit and are willing to invest just a little bit of time each month in cleaning your AC drain line, you can avoid costly repairs and extend the life of your air conditioner.
What’s a drain line?
Air conditioners work by pulling heat and humidity out of the air. The air is pushed by refrigerants, cooling it. That cooled air is circulated in your home, while the heat and humidity have been converted to gases that eventually is converted to water that drips into the drain line.
Drain lines are made of PVC or copper pipes. They are placed vertically on the side of your house leading to the outside condenser unit.
It’s actually a simple operation to keep your drain line clean. If you do it regularly, you won’t ever see the signs that you NEED to do it.
Signs Your Drain Pipe Is Clogged
You wouldn’t think that water could be a problem, would you?
But imagine this. All that heat and humidity that has been pulled out of the air and condensed into water that now contains bacteria, mold, algae, dust, or grime. This water is then put into a cool, closed, dark space and forgotten.
You know what happens when germs get to go into a cool, dark place?
Your drain line can close up from mold and sludge and nasty stuff that can present a health hazard.
Here’s how you know that your drain line is clogged.
Clogged drain lines smell. If you get a whiff of musty or mildewy smells when you’re around the vents or registers, you might have a clogged drain line.
Standing water or water stains:
If water is dripping around your inside unit, or if you see water stains, check your drain line for blockage. Water on the floor means that it’s not going where it should, probably because of a clogged drain line.
Air conditioner cuts off before the house is cool enough:
Is your air conditioner cutting off before the house is cool enough? Does it stop working before the temperature on the thermostat is reached?
That often happens because most modern air conditioners are designed with a built-in safety mechanism. If the drip pan gets too full of water, the unit shuts off. The drip pan gets full of water only if there’s a problem with the drain line.
How to Clean Your Drain Line
Check the pipe on the unit (air handler or furnace) inside of your home or garage. Most of them have a t-shape joint with a removable cap.
Turn off your AC unit.
Remove the cap from the drain line.
Inspect the inside for blockages.
If there are visible blockages, remove them by wiping them away with a rag, or use a small toothbrush or soft wire brush to release them.
Some people opt to use a wet/dry vac to blow out the lines.
Rinse the line with white vinegar. Add a cup or two of vinegar to a gallon of hot water. This should be done each month.
You may think it would be good to use bleach because it kills germs, but white vinegar is the better choice. Bleach can damage some pipes and has a very strong smell.
In Florida where we run our air conditioning systems most of the year and where they have to work hard to keep it cool, drain lines need to be cleaned every 30 days.
(If you want to know what else you can clean with vinegar, click here!)
The Even Easier Way to Avoid Costly Repairs
Call ServiceOne Air Conditioning & Plumbing to get in our Club One Membership. We’ll perform routine maintenance and keep your HVAC in tip-top condition, helping you avoid major problems and costly repairs. (You should still pour the vinegar-water mixture down the drain once per month as well.)