How to Fix Air Conditioner Condensate Line Clogging

There are weeks and weeks of summer; a time when you need every second of your air conditioner and the generous cool blasts of air it generates. Therefore, living with a plugged up condensation line is not an option.  

How the problem starts

Most owners of air conditioners know that running their A/C causes the air to dry out.  True, the air is colder, but much dryer than normal, which is a big help during times of heat and humidity.  Coils running cold in your refrigerator are actually drawing the moisture out of the air and directing the condensation out through a pipe.  Pipe clogging problems can stop this moisture from running out into a drain pan as it should.  

Dirt loves moisture too.

Unfortunately, dirt, dust and crud will clog the pan and pipe.  Eventually, this can cause the entire system to stop cooling.  Sooner or later this type of problem happens to all systems and should be one the first place to look if you hear a strange unexplainable banging sound, if your air conditioner stops cooling, has a strange odor, or other similar problems.  

Cleaning out the condensate line

What might seem like a disaster is, in fact a relatively easy problem to fix.  The condensate line system uses a ¾ inch PVC pipe to drain the water to a drain or sink at floor level.  When the drain clogs up or the drain overflows, there is a problem with a rough running air conditioner and a watery nasty mess.

Items you might need:

  • Wet Vac
  • Can of Compressed Air
  • Paper towels
  • Vacuum
  • Screw Driver
  • Drill
  • Hose
  • A copy of the Air Conditioner’s manual

Step One:

If you are not familiar with the workings of your air conditioner take a few minutes to look of the manual. Sometimes there are hidden easy methods of getting into either the drain or pan.  There’s nothing like fussing with the coverings some machines have only to find out; there is, in fact a trick to it, you missed by not reading the manual.  

Step Two:

Put some paper towels on the floor to minimize any mess getting to the floor. Open the drain and check for the worst case possibility.  Rarely, but often enough to note small lizards or other small wildlife will for somehow, for some reason chose drains to meet their end.  Otherwise it is very safe to use your own wet dry vacuum or wet vac as they are known.  Take the wet vac and suck the drain line until it appears to be visually clean.  

Step Three:

Should the drain pan be especially nasty then use a drill or screw driver to take the cover off and vacuum it out as well. If something is stuck and either can’t or doesn’t want to come out then use the can of compressed air and blow the clog out.  If nothing else works then use the hose to force just enough water through to blow out the clog.  

Clean up any excess water from the floor. Cover the drain and drain pan back up.  This should resolve the problem for and help the air condition run much smoother.