The Importance of Maintaining Your Air Conditioner Drain
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AC Condensate Stoppages – MAINTAIN YOUR DRAIN

ac condensate stoppages
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Today we are going to spend a little time discussing some basic maintenance that you should be performing on your home’s air conditioning system. The first is very obvious, however often forgotten. I myself am guilty of this one and that is remembering to change your air conditioners filter every month. A dirty filter reduces efficiency, increases utility costs and adds wear and tear to your system. As I have said in the past if the filter is bad enough it can even go as far as causing the unit to freeze up, doing water damage to your home as the unit thaws out. If you have a more advanced thermostat, you can set reminders that pop up on the thermostat telling you it is time to change the filter or filters.

safe t switch

The next thing that most home owners ignore is the air conditioner drain line. Your word for the day is zooglea, which is a white slimy algae that forms primarily in air conditioner drain lines or anywhere you find standing cold water. In a properly installed drain line there should be a service tee that allows for maintenance of the drain line. One of the best ways to help prevent drain line backups is every time you change the air conditioner filter pour a couple of cups of white vinegar down the drain line while the unit is off. The vinegar will help dissolve the algae that can build up in those lines. Please do not use bleach as I so often hear. Bleach over time can cause the PVC pipe to become brittle and can lead to drain line failure.


Most air conditioners have a float or safety switch on the drain line to turn the unit off in the event the drain line would back up. These switches unfortunately are famous for failure and that is one of the reason drain line maintenance is so important. You need to realize that on a hot summer day an air conditioner can remove many gallons of water from the air per hour and a condensate flood can be very damaging in a short period of time. We have the ability to add secondary safety switches and even water alarms connected to your thermostat if you’d like to add layers of protection to the drain line for your peace of mind.

white distilled vinegar

As always, the next tip depends on your comfort level. Make sure your unit is off, pour some vinegar down the drain line and let it stand for at least thirty minutes. Next up head to the garage, grab your trusty wet/dry shop vac and head to wherever the drain line exits the home. Hook up the shop vacuum to the drain line and let it run for ten minutes or so to suck out all that slime. Once you’ve completed that it is important to be sure and go back to the service tee on the drain line and pour four to five cups of water down the line. This does two things; it makes sure the line is clear and it also re-primes the drain line and or fills the trap in the line to allow proper drainage. If you skip this step you can actually cause the line to not drain properly.

I’m bound for Opa-locka for an air conditioner quote, so until next time, can anyone please tell me what to add to the powdered water I just bought?

House Whisperer out!!


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