Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cleaning out an A/C Condensate line

Tampa Bay handyman here again to talk a little about cleaning our your air conditioner condensate line. You will more then likely have to do this once a year. See there is always going to be a little water in your drip pan running through the air conditioner condensate line as long as your running the air conditioner. When your not running the air conditioner thats when the slime sludge will start to build up, and eventually the condensate line will clog and it will either trigger the air conditioners float switch killing the power to the air handler or it will flood your house.

So before you go out and pay some hvac technician a couple hundred dollars to do about 5 minutes of work just keep reading. What you will need is just a wet/dry vacuum. Go out side and locate where the condensate pipe is. Turn the vacuum on and suck away, let the vacuum suck out the line for a couple of minutes to make sure it gets all the sludge out of the condensate line. Thats it, your drain line should be clear for a couple months to a year.

This is by far not the only way to clean out a air conditioner condensate line the method above is the method that I use because I have found that it works the most efficient and I usually don't have callbacks when I use the wet vacuum. They sell tools like the gallo gun which uses nitrogen cartridges to blow the line clean from the inside, some hvac technicians will use nitrogen tanks, or "the drain dog", you could also hook a garden hose up to the condensate line and turn the hot water on and flush the drain out. And I've even heard that grapefruit juice will dissolve the slime sludge.

Whatever method works for you. If you wanna prevent sludge from building up at all they sell condensate tablets that are designed to stop sludge growth, you just pop them in your drip pan about once a month. Okay, short lesson, thats all from the Tampa Bay Handyman today on air conditioner condensate lines.

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Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I live in a two story town home (built in 1977) where the air handler is on the second floor and the drain line runs from there, into the wall and down underneath the foundation where the trap is. And then back up again where it empties onto the grass in the back of our house. So the drain line is pretty long. I've had ac techs come out before and use compressed air and clamped down the hose to create some kind of seal for sufficient pressure and that usually does the trick. There is always a mass of goo at the exit side of the drain on the grass. For the past year, I've had several other techs out and they have tried using compressed air but no clamp, just using their hand to create pressure. But they have not been successful in pushing out the "goo" on the other end. So in my mind, unless I just don't understand the workings of drain lines well enough, the drain line hasn't had a good blow out for over a year. I've mentioned to these techs that in the past, I've seen clamps used successfully in cleaning the line and they have all insisted that has nothing to do with why the line won't drain. They say it's because over the years, the line is shrinking in diameter due to calcium buildup and that I have no option but to either run a new line through the wall and foundation or get a condensate pump. None of them were willing to humor me and use a clamp to see if it would create sufficient pressure to successfully blow out the line. I spoke with their manager finally and he explained that you aren't supposed to have a very good seal when you are using compressed air because it could cause damage to the drain line from all the pressure. He insisted that whether you use a clamp or your hand, it's the same thing and equally effective. He also concurred with the whole calcium buildup and drain line diameter situation, saying there was no way to clean out calcium deposits because they are so hard. My question is, does this all make sense to you? In all my research about drain lines, I have seen nothing about calcium deposits/buildup but have read plenty about algae and gummy build up needing appropriate pressure to push it out. I'm just looking for an objective third party opinion because I really don't want to have to get the $400 condensate pump that they insist I need. Although I am willing if what they are saying is correct.

Thanks in advance for your guidance!

T in Ft. Lauderdale

dwepproductionz said...

I would say that he is blowing smoke up your ass with the calcium deposit thing as I have never heard of this either. The only thing in my experience that clogs drain lines are the slime/goo, dead lizards and snakes etc.

Blowing the drain line out could disconnect an elbow or fitting depending on how it was installed.

If you want your drain line clean as a whistle use the wet vac method - but cut the drain line at the drip pan and cap it off and vacuum from the outside for a couple of minutes. Re-assemble the drain line.

If you want to go a step further dump some bleach down the drain line and flush with boiling hot water.

Randy said...

The calcium buildup line makes me laugh. I don't know where the calcium would come from on a condensate line. The only water going through there is what has condensed from the air. As such, it should be pure water, no calcium, as the minerals in water stay behind when it evaporates. It's basic physics.
He's yanking your chain and trying to get a sale of a condensate pump.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much! I was able to use the wet vac and it seems to have fixed the problem. I can't believe I was paying these yahoos to come out here for nothing but trying to sell their junk to me!! I'll be checking out your blog for more useful tips!

acdrainpump said...

Check out this great tool I bought called mighty pump at it is fantastic.