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has been a family-owned AC repair and HVAC company in Orlando for over 25 years. Our slogan, “Honesty and Quality at a Fair Price,” speaks directly to our aim of keeping our customers happy.

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Clogged AC Condensate Drain

One of the most common Orlando AC Repair problems is when the condensate drain line is clogged. It’s important to regularly clean and maintain a home A/C air handler unit’s condensate drain pipe.

The condensation drain pipe that allows water to flow from the air handler’s drip pan to the outside of the home had become clogged with fungus, mildew, algae, debris and even small plants. The most important question is what causes the clogging?

What Causes A/C Condensate Drain Line Clogging?

A/C or heat pump condensate drains can become clogged, leading to condensate leaks, spillage, or even bacterial hazards in a building.

Clogged air conditioner condensate drain lines can form another source of air conditioner or heat pump condensate leakage that can in turn lead to hidden water damage or in some locations an indoor mold problem or bacterial contamination.

Our photograph of a nearly full A/C condensate overflow pan (at left) shows what can happen if the primary condensate air conditioner condensate drain line is clogged and worse, the condensate drain overflow pan is also itself clogged and not draining properly. Luckily we caught this attic mold and bacterial pond before it had soaked the ceilings below.

We see air conditioner or heat pump condensate drain lines clogging for several reasons:

Condensate trap debris dry-out cycle: Dust and debris or nearby insulation entering the condensate drain line trap near the air handler, often where the trap design includes a vertical standpipe open to the air, serving as an emergency overflow to prevent condensate from backing up inside the air handler itself.In months during which an air conditioning system is not in use, particularly for non-heat-pump systems that perform cooling-only, condensate and accumulated dust and debris that was resting in the condensate drain trap can convert to a dried plug of crud as the water portion of the condensate evaporates.After several years of this wet, sludge accumulation, and then drying cycle, the plug of dried sludge in a condensate trap or drain can actually block condensate flow through the system.

Improperly-installed condensate drain lines with a long near-horizontal run can allow dust and debris to accumulate, dry, and ultimately block condensate flow in the drain line

Insects, insect nests, or on larger piping systems, even rodents can clog a condensate drain line.

Condensate overflow pan drain blockage: dust and debris also accumulate readily in a condensate overflow pan where it can flow to and block the opening to the overflow pan’s independent condensate drain line. If a blockage occurs here, the condensate overflow pan may not do its job of preventing condensate spillage into the building.

How do I Clean an Air Conditioning or Heat Pump Condensate Drain?

Remove visible debris from the clogged air conditioning or heat pump condensate drain: start with a simple visual inspection. You may see a plug of crud blocking a condensate overflow pan right at its drain inlet – material that can be manually removed and the area wiped clean.Peering into the standpipe at a condensate drain trap, you may see crud right in that area that can be fished out or simply loosened and flushed through the drain line by working carefully so as not to break or loosen any pipe connections.Our photo (left) shows a poorly-installed A/C condensate drain system: the air handler condensate drain is installed in common with the overflow pan drain line – so that a blockage in the condensate drain line will guarantee that condensate spills onto the attic floor.The A/C condensate tray should have either had its own independent drain line, or it should have been installed with a sensor switch that shuts down the A/C or heat pump system if spillage is detected in the overflow pan. Finally, there is no trap on the condensate line and no air vent.Having a clogged drain is not the most expensive task on the list of AC Repair. If there is ever a concern, There are always many AC Repairmen readily available to assist.

FAQ About Clogged AC Condensate Drain

What is the function of an AC condensate drain?

AC condensate drains are placed just outside the home to facilitate proper draining. The AC condensate lines are routed to a sink drain, so that the condensation can efficiently exit the home.

What should I use to clean my clogged AC drain?

Consult your manufacturer’s log to determine the best mix of products to use when cleaning your clogged AC condensate drain. Although many people still rely on vinegar and bleach, you may be able to get the drain unclogged with a wet vacuum and boiling hot water. Getting the perfect attachment that fits the pipe will simplify the unclogging process. If possible, avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning the drain. When in doubt, give our AC repair experts a call to help.

When is it time to clean the AC condensate drain?

A condensate drain is supposed to drip periodically. If dripping does not occur, you condensate drain pipe may get blocked. To check to see if it’s dripping properly, look for the outdoor compressor in the yard, which may be attached to the home. There should always be a steady, slow drip.

What causes the AC condensate drain to become clogged?

Landscaping and lawn care maintenance can back up the primary drain and lead to clogging. It drain line isn’t properly pitched, repeat clogging can become a problem. Sludge can build up when clogging occurs. This can be a breeding ground for spiders and insects. Neglect can lead to significant damage to the home.

Is there a way to prevent clogging?

Having your unit cleaned periodically throughout the year will keep the clogging problem under control. With a semi-annual maintenance plan, you will be far less likely to experience any clogging. Some suggest cleaning the drain on a monthly basis to remove any clogs.

Should I get it unclogged immediately?

The clogged ac drain should be cleared immediately for sanitary reasons. Mold, mildew and bacteria can be lodged in the system and enter into the home. Mold overgrowth and property damage can ultimately lead to health implications as well as cause serious property damage to the home.

Ambrose Air, Inc. has been a family-owned AC repair and HVAC company in Orlando for over 25 years. Our slogan, “Honesty and Quality at a Fair Price,” speaks directly to our aim of keeping our customers happy.

Ambrose Air, Inc. has been serving Central Florida since 1990. Our company was founded on the principal of Honesty and Quality at Fair Price. We have done jobs ranging from a simple repair to as large as 3/4 of a million dollar

Ambrose Air, Inc.

6457 Hazeltine National Dr. Suite 165, Orlando, FL 32822

We are a state licensed contractor License # CACO42735

Working Hours

Monday > Friday: 7am > 7pm
Saturday : 7am > 12pm
Sunday : Closed