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Why It's Important to Keep Your HVAC Drain Lines Clear

When the thermostat rises, your air conditioner goes to work keeping your home cool, and during the scorching summer temperatures, your system has to work extra hard to keep up with the demand. The cool temperature of your condenser coil causes water to condense on it, which eventually drips off and normally exits without issue. However, when the condensation can’t flow away, you may find yourself facing a major problem, such as an ineffective system or even a breakdown.

Spotting a Condensation Issue

Is there unexplained water on the floor near your air handling unit or evaporator coil (the indoor portion of your air conditioner)? This is usually the first dead-giveaway sign of an issue. Your air conditioner has a drip pan located on the bottom of the unit that is connected to a drain line. The drain line simply carries this water away from your home. If the drain in your drip pan becomes clogged, the condensed moisture can’t be carried away, and that’s when the trouble starts.

As the condensation collects in the pan, it progressively builds up until it has nowhere else to go, spilling out over the edges and onto the floor surrounding the unit. Before this happens, however, you might notice the odors first: condensation buildup is a prime condition for mold and mildew growth, creating a musty smell and possibly increasing the suffering of those who have sensitive allergies.

A clog in your drip pan generally forms over time. Dust and other airborne contaminants can be taken out of the air by the moisture that condenses on your coil fairly easily, causing it to drip down into the pan. Over time, this dirty moisture leaves its deposits behind in the pan, resulting in buildup, clogging your drain, and causing the water level in your drip pan to rise without receding. If left untreated, this exposed and dripping water could even cause major damage to your home.

Repairing a Drain Line

If you do find yourself facing a clog, rest assured, the fix is actually not that difficult if you have some confidence in your handiwork skills. Here is the fastest way to take care of this issue and clean up any mess that may have been left behind by a clog.

  • Shut off your air conditioner, first at the thermostat, and then at the circuit breaker panel.
  • Locate your drip pan, which is at the bottom of your air conditioning unit. If you can’t see it, you may have to remove a front sheet metal panel to expose it.
  • If water is present in the drip pan, remove it using a wet/dry vacuum or some towels or rags.
  • Remove the drain pan. This may require loosening a bolt or fastener of some sort, but make sure the pan is empty so you avoid spilling any water when you do remove it.
  • Clean away the mold, algae, or mildew that may have formed either on the pan or the area around your HVAC unit by using warm water and a mild soap.
  • Using your hand, create a seal around the drain line and the vacuum, then turn it on. Run the vacuum for about one minute to see if you can remove the clog this way. If this does not work, use a small, flexible rubber tube to dislodge the clog by forcing it down the drain tube. This may take some patience to do properly.
  • Finally, you’ll want to clean the drain line. Remove the cover to the access drain and pour either distilled vinegar or a mixture of hot water and dish soap down the drain. Leave it for 30 minutes. Once this has passed, have a second person watch the outside exit as you rinse the lines with clean water. When the water is coming out clean and freely, you’ll know the clog has been removed and your drain pan should function properly again.

If you are not comfortable performing this repair, call a Palm Beach County HVAC professional from Phoenix Air Conditioning now! Dial 888.660.4337 to schedule a service or receive a repair estimate for your air conditioning issues!