How Do I Clean My AC Drain? – Part 1

Heat and Humidity. That’s the bane of the summer cooling season. Of course, as we mentioned in our previous post, a properly functioning central cooling system will pull out both the heat and the humidity from the air in your home, leaving you cool and dry. But it is pulled out in two distinct ways. The heat is transferred to the refrigerant, and then rejected outside from the outdoor unit. The humidity, on the other hand, condenses into liquid water and has to be drained, or pumped, out of the house.

In Part 1 of this theme we explained where to look for the outlet of the condensate drain. Now let’s talk about how to keep it clear and running free.

As you’ll recall, we explained that you might have a primary drain, and a secondary drain. The primary drain might be dumping the water near the outdoor unit. When your system was installed, one of the options for the drain line was to run it out the same hole in the wall as the refrigerant lines. Or it may come out somewhere else. However, if you have a back-up condensate drain, then it will come out somewhere very obvious, like onto your front porch near your main entrance. The idea is to make it obvious you need to fix the primary drain before you get water damage in your home.

Regardless of whether you have one or two condensate drains, here’s the steps to get them draining properly. Before you do anything else, turn of the power to your air-conditioning system. Don’t just use the thermostat to turn it to the “OFF” mode, but rather shut off the circuit breaker or power disconnect to the indoor and outdoor units. This will keep the cooling system from turning on while you go through the following steps, but more importantly, will prevent you from getting injured if you were to accidentally touch a wire or terminal inside the units.

  1. Start with a shop-vac, also called a wet/dry vacuum. If you are dealing with a clogged line, this a simple way to get that clog cleared out. Clogs in a condensate drain line on a residential central cooling system are generally caused by a build-up of algae. The shop-vac can pull that out of the pipe. Keep in mind that once the line is clear, it is possible there will be build up of algae in the drain pan that may now be able to flow into the recently cleared pipe. And that could cause it to clog again in short order.
  2. Clean out the drain pan. What do you look for? The drain pan will obviously be wet, but it should not have standing water. If there is water puddled up in the drain pan then there is a problem with the drain. Hopefully the step above will have solved that. The shop-vac will also be helpful here at the indoor unit, although depending on the location, it may be more difficult to access with a wet-dry vacuum. Use rags if you need to. Then clean out the pan with a mild mixture of water and dish soap. As a note of caution, be very careful working around the indoor coil since the metal fins on it are very delicate. Even a slight bump on them will cause damage.

We’re going to move on to the next steps, coming right up. However, if you already are uncertain about how to follow these first two steps, then don’t hesitate to contact your favorite trusted heating and air conditioning service company. GAMA Air has many satisfied customers in the Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino area. If you need our assistance, and want to find out about our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, then give us a call now at (310) 651-6936, or use our online form to schedule a visit.

Would you like to ask a question about heating or air conditioning but don’t know who to ask? Visit our Ask an Expert page, fill out the form, and the resident expert here at GAMA Air will get back to you quickly with the answer.

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