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Is your air conditioner telling you its drain line is clogged?

Pay Attention Now or Pay a Fortune Later

When you see water dripping from a secondary drain line outside one of your windows it’s time to spring into action. Whether you call an air conditioning technician or fix the problem yourself, you should act quickly because the next message your A/C sends you won’t be nearly as subtle or polite – like water damage to your ceiling and maybe even your furniture and flooring.

Why is this happening?

When warm, moist air comes in contact with your air conditioner’s evaporator coil the byproduct is condensation. This water formation is quite normal in warmer climates, which is why you’re A/C includes a drain system to remove this water through a primary drain line. Sometimes this line can become clogged with mold, mildew or fungus. In this case, the water is diverted to an overflow drain pan where a secondary drain line carries it outside your home — usually exiting through a PVC pipe above a window where you are more likely to notice it and take action. 

How can I fix it myself?

The best method is to use a wet/dry vacuum to clear the clogged drain line. Remove the paper filter inside the vacuum and place the hose over the PVC pipe that exits near the A/C compressor outside your home. To avoid air leakage, hold your hand or a rag tightly around the area where the vacuum hose connects to the drain line. Turn on the vacuum for 5 to 10 seconds and shut it off. That’s all it should take to clear the obstruction so your A/C system can drain properly.

Is there any way to prevent it?

Good question. The answer is yes. Find the primary drainpipe located near the main A/C unit (usually in the attic). You should see a vertical pipe exiting from the main drain coming out of the A/C unit (it might have a cap that needs to be removed).  Pour a one-cup solution of equal parts water and bleach into the pipe. Do this every spring to keep the mildew and algae to a minimum.



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