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Clogged Condensate Drain: How It Happens, and How to Prevent It

Clogged Condensate Drain: How It Happens, and How to Prevent ItYour air conditioner works hard to keep you cool during the long San Joaquin Valley cooling season, and keeping your system operating problem-free all summer long can be a challenge. Clogged condensate drains are one of the most common air conditioning problems, causing your condensate pan to overflow, and eventually shutting down your system. Your annual preventive maintenance call should include flushing the condensate drain to prevent this problem, but knowing how clogs occur and what you can do to remove them is a simple but valuable skill that can save you money on a service visit down the road.

The condensate pan beneath the evaporator coil in your indoor unit collects the condensation that drips from the coil. A PVC drain pipe runs from the condensate pan to a drain in your basement floor or to an outdoor location. Dust, pet hair, mold growth and debris such as leaves and twigs outside can obstruct the drain, resulting in the pan backing up with water and shutting down your system, inviting hazarous mold growth and causing water damage in your home.

To remove the clog from your drain, follow these steps:

  • Turn off the power to your air conditioner at the main circuit breaker or the unit’s sub-panel.
  • Check the end of the drain line, which may be located indoors or outdoors, for debris and blockages.
  • Insert a plumber’s snake or a smaller gauge of plastic tubing into the drain line to remove blockages deeper inside the drain.
  • Remove standing water in the condensate pan beneath your indoor unit with a wet/dry vacuum. This is a good time to scrub your condensate pan to remove mold and mildew.
  • Insert the plumber’s snake or tubing into the drain line that leads from the condensate pan to remove obstructions.
  • Pour a solution of one quarter cup of bleach and a gallon of warm water down the drain to flush it and ensure the obstructions have been removed.

For more expert advice about preventing and addressing obstructions in condensate drains, please contact us at Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning, helping to keep Fresno residents comfortable year-round.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Fresno, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about condensate drains and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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