Keeping the Cooling System’s Condensate Drain Clean

July 30, 2015
Ross and Witmer

An important but often forgotten maintenance task associated with your cooling system is cleaning the A/C condensate drain so the water it creates flows from the system easily. The condensate drain is a pipe that connects to the drain pan for your central system. It’s important to keep the drainage system clean so that the humidity it condenses doesn’t collect and flood your A/C or home.

Causes of a Plugged Drain

Stoppages in the drainpipe or clogs in the pan occur because both provide ideal environments for mold and algae growth. Outside, dead vegetation, insects and vermin can also block the drainpipe. Signs of a plugged pan or pipe include damp or wet areas around the indoor air handler or a musty odor originating close to the air handler.

Cleaning the Condensate Drain

If you’re not sure whether cleaning the A/C condensate drain has been part of annual maintenance or if you’ve neglected it for a few seasons, start with an inspection of the drain pan. It’s usually located beneath the evaporator coil inside the air handler. Clean it with a soft cloth dampened with a water and vinegar mixture to sanitize it. Remove any debris that blocks the drain.

Unless the water flows freely from the drainpipe, you may need to suction the pipe. A wet-dry vacuum works well, as long as you can make the connection between the vacuum hose and the end of the drainpipe fairly tight. You might be able to find fittings at a hardware store to adapt the vacuum hose if you’re otherwise unable to form a tight seal.

You may need to ask your HVAC contractor to clear the condensate line if it’s been neglected or you can’t clear the pipe. He or she uses safe chemicals for cleaning and to prevent the growth of algae or mold.

For more information about cleaning the A/C condensate drain, contact Ross & Witmer, or call us today at 704-392-6188.

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