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How to Clean an AC Drain Line

Jul 8, 2024 | Blog

Being on a semi-annual maintenance plan is one of the best ways to make sure your air conditioning system is, well, maintained! But, in between visits there are some ways you can make sure your A/C keeps running smooth. In particular, you can clean your A/C drain line at home with just hot water and vinegar!

Why should I clean my drain line?

A neglected drain line will inevitably collect mold and algae over time. The slimy substance will build up and eventually caused a clogged drain line, which is never fun. Once your air conditioner’s drain line is clogged, you might notice musty or moldy smells coming from the A/C. Not only that, a clogged drain line can cause standing water and water damage near your air handler, high humidity, and it can seriously affect the ability of your unit to cool down your home. But don’t worry, like we said, you can clean your drain line yourself!

How do I clean my A/C drain line?

Clean an A/C drain line step 1
Clean an A/C drain line step 1
Clean an A/C drain line step 1

1. First of all, to clean your A/C drain line you’ll need to find the drain line attached to your air handler. The drain line is typically a white PVC pipe that comes out of your air handler and leads away from the unit. The pipe could be wrapped in foam insulation, like the one in our example photo. Be careful to differentiate the float switch (attached to the air handler) from the drain line cap (on the pipe leading away from the air handler), as they can look very similar.

2. Turn the unit off at the thermostat, then twist off the drain line cap and set it aside. Here is where you’ll pour in the vinegar and hot water.

4. Wait 10 minutes. Let the vinegar do its work. The acetic acid in white vinegar breaks down many common fungi and mold varieties found in homes and can prevent new growth. It’s a great option because it’s non-toxic and won’t damage the drain line.

3. Pour ½ cup distilled white vinegar down the drain line.

5. Pour ½ gallon of hot water down the drain line to thoroughly rinse out the vinegar and whatever slimy substance may be stuck inside the pipe. Using a recycled milk jug that you can fill with hot water from the tap usually works pretty well for this step.

6. Remember to replace your drain line cap and turn your unit back on!

And that’s it! You just learned how to clean an A/C drain line.

Along with regularly changing the air filter, cleaning the A/C drain line can help prevent problems from arising in between routine maintenances. If your drain line is too clogged to flush out with this method, it’s a good idea to call a local air conditioning company and have a professional clean out the drain line for you.

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