Air conditioning systems are crucial for any home that tends to get hotter than the owner would like. This is particularly true in locations with hotter climates and high humidity levels.
However, there are lots of ways for your AC unit to become slower and not work as well as you need it to.
For example, if the drain becomes clogged with some sort of debris. This can be frustrating because it limits the effect these appliances will have on your home.
If you need to find out how to unclog a drain pipe then you’ve come to the right place.
Follow our guide to find out how to unclog an air conditioning unit’s drainpipe, the benefits of doing so, and how often to complete this process. Hopefully, by the end of our guide, you’ll be a drain cleaning pro!
Table of Contents
What Is An Air Conditioning Unit?
Air conditioning units generally consist of an indoor coil to cool down your house, and an outdoor condenser coil to send cold air into the outside environment. Within the air conditioner, there are two main parts:
The compressor part compresses refrigerant gas and sends it through pipes to the inside coils where heat is removed from the gas and compressed into water vapor.
Then the warm compressed water vapor is sent back to the compressor, where it evaporates to become a new supply of refrigerant gas before being pumped away and reused in future cycles.
If you want to keep your machine working and your house cool, then it’s always best to monitor these features of an AC unit and do your best to keep them clean and unblocked.
How To Tell When A Drain Is Clogged
The most common cause of AC unit drainage problems is when someone gets dirt or liquids stuck in their drains.
If you notice that your drain pipes are slowly getting larger, you may want to check to see what’s causing this.
You should also watch for signs of excess moisture on the ground around your home. This is usually caused by a leaky pipe, depending on where they are positioned.
These issues could be the reason why your drains are clogging up or signs of it happening.
Flooding By The Air Handler Unit
Another possible problem is flooding by the air handler unit. Many people don’t realize that the air handler unit has several functions besides just cooling your home.
It also heats the air when necessary, and filters the air before sending it into your home. Sometimes, when this system works properly and efficiently, it can make things worse for you.
When the air handler unit isn’t running correctly, the air coming into your home can flood the area directly above it.
If the air is too hot or humid, it can damage the roof of your home and even lead to mold growth. In extreme cases, this can cause serious health issues and will need immediate attention.
Moldy Odors Around Your Home
You may also start smelling something rotten or musty near your AC unit. This can happen when the filter needs replacing but hasn’t been done yet, or when there’s mold in the drainpipes.
Even though your unit is supposed to run regularly, sometimes people forget to change the filter or clean the drains. Or worse, they leave it dirty and neglected.
Either way, this can lead to mold growing in the filter, making the whole thing smell bad.
This mold can also spread throughout your house and cause other problems such as asthma attacks and respiratory infections.
When looking at your air conditioner, it’s important to look for signs of mold growth. If you notice mold forming anywhere near your AC unit, immediately call a professional to remove it.
How to Unclog Your Ac Drain
Step One – Deactivating The Device
Make sure that before you start to try and clean your AC unit the power needs to be off. You can do this at the thermostat and the breaker.
This is done to make sure you can access the different parts of the machine without damaging the appliance.
On top of this, you have to turn off the air conditioning unit to make sure that you remain safe throughout the cleaning process.
Step Two – Locating The Drain Line Of Your AC
Many people won’t know where the drainpipe is, which is understandable unless you’re a plumber or technician of some kind.
This is usually a PVC pipe and will be by your condenser unit and should be reasonably easy to find once you know where to look.
If the drain line is full then you might need a bucket or a large bowl of some form for the excess water.
Step Three – Finding The Access Point On The Drain Line
There will usually be a vent in the shape of a T, which is where you need to pay attention next.
The cap on the top of the drain will be used as a cover and will need to be removed so that you can take a good look inside of the appliance. If there’s a blockage, you’ll probably see it here.
Step Four – Assessing The Blockage
If the clog is visible, then this is where you need to try and see how bad it is. Assess the situation and decide on whether you need to call a professional to handle the problem.
Always have a pair of protective gloves near so if you think you can remove the blockage manually, then you have that option.
However, if the blockage is too far in then you need to ignore this step and move on. It’s really important that you don’t force the debris further into the pipe or you could make things a lot worse.
Step Five – Flushing The System
Everyone knows that when it comes to cleaning appliances and features such as drains, vinegar can be a man’s best ally.
Because of the high acid levels in the liquid, you can expect the vinegar to break down the dirt and grime that might be blocking your machine’s drainage system.
Always try to avoid the strong smells as they can make you feel nauseous.
If you want to avoid these fumes, then mix the vinegar with some soap and warm water to ease the smell of the vinegar.
Place a quarter cup of normal vinegar into your drain line where the cap was at the start of this process. Once it is full, you can desist and hope to see a difference.
If you don’t see a difference then you need to call a professional to come and help you.
How Often Should I Clean My AC Unit?
You shouldn’t worry about cleaning your AC unit every week, but you should check its condition from time to time.
When you are not using your air conditioning unit, you should always store it in a cool place away from direct sunlight.
If you live in an area where temperatures are hot most of the year, then you may want to leave your AC unit outside (see also ‘Outside AC Unit Not Turning On’) whenever possible to avoid overheating.
When you’re ready to use your AC unit again, you should ensure that you empty all of the dust from the vents and pipes.
Make sure that you keep your filters clean and replace them regularly. If you notice any leaks around the exterior of the unit, you should get someone to fix them immediately.
AC units also require regular maintenance to make sure that they are performing to the best of their ability and will require a lot of care and attention.
Otherwise, they will start to have less of an effect on your home and the temperature levels that you’re looking to live in.
So there you have it, that’s our five-step guide to unclogging your AC drainage system (see also ‘Guide On How To Vacuum AC System Without Pump’) and making sure that your AC unit is working to the best of its ability.
This article has hopefully helped you understand what to do when you’ve got a clogged-up AC unit and the signs that your air conditioning system needs attending to.
Make sure that you follow through with the steps that we’ve laid out for you and you should be able to solve your clogged-up AC unit problem without too much trouble.
Remember that your safety is the most important thing and that you should never attempt this if you don’t feel comfortable enough.
Ultimately, it’s not worth the stress and not worth making the problem worse if you end up damaging your air conditioning unit.
If you feel like that you would be better off calling a professional to help you fix your problem, then make sure you do.