Most of our permanent residents here in Venice, Florida know how essential regular HVAC maintenance is to keep their homes cool year-round. One thing many folks don’t realize is that maintenance also includes cleaning their AC drainage lines.
If you run your air conditioner all summer, and especially if you use it year-round, you should have the drain lines inspected and cleaned during your regular service appointments.
In case you’ve missed your maintenance appointment, or haven’t had time to schedule, your AC system will give clues if the drainage lines need cleaning.
This post identifies 6 signs of a dirty, clogged, or malfunctioning drainage line.
Where Is My AC Drainage Line?
The AC drain line, also referred to as the condensate drain plays a critical role in removing condensation produced by the evaporator coils. Every central AC system has a drainage line.
When troubleshooting this part of your system, you’ll need to find the access and the runoff.
Both are PVC pipes. The access is a vertical pipe with a cap, and it’s located indoors near your a/c air handler. The runoff is located outside close to your condenser unit.
Now, we’ll move on to signs you should keep an eye out for that mean it’s time to clean your drainage lines.
1. Your AC Stops Working
Many newer air conditioners have a sensor that shuts down your system if it detects a backup of water. If your central air suddenly powers down, look for leaking water. You may have a clogged drainage line.
On a hot humid day in Florida, your air conditioner can pull in excess of 50 gallons of water out of the air inside your home. First, the water (condensation) drips into a collection pan and then flows through the AC drainage line.
You can attempt to clear any blockage in the drainage line, but if you’re not successful, call your HVAC technician. Unresolved clogs in the line may eventually lead to water damage to your home.
2. Water Dripping Around the Inside Unit
Another indication that it’s time for drainage line service is dripping or standing water near the furnace or evaporator unit.
Check the area inside your utility closet or furnace room monthly for water leaks. It’s easy to mistake water in a utility closet for an issue with your water heater rather than your HVAC system.
Be aware that a clogged drainage line is a common cause of water leaking inside your home from the air conditioner. Drain lines get backed up with dirt, mold, and other debris.
There are a few methods used to unclog an AC drainage line. One is using a wet/dry vac to suck the clog out. An HVAC tech can remove a clog quickly with a special vacuum.
3. Your Drip Pan Is Full
Remember earlier we mentioned a drip pan? The drainage line removes excess condensation from your AC’s evaporator coils. The condensation drips into the drip pan first and then the drainage line carries it out of your home.
The drip pan is a reservoir, meaning you’ll find water in it. The problem isn’t flowing water, it’s standing water. Standing water in a drip pan usually means a clogged drainage line.
Ignoring a full drip pan can result in mechanical problems for your AC. It’s a simple fix when you contact your heating and cooling service team.
4. Your House Feels Unusually Muggy
If you notice muggy air inside your home, pay attention to this signal. It may mean a clogged drainage line. It can also mean a faulty pump but check for a clogged line first.
When you have unusually high humidity levels inside, your HVAC tech will check to see if your drainage line needs cleaning. If that’s not the issue, they’ll inspect the pump.
The relationship between humidity and the drainage line is possible algae growth inside the line. If you have algae or mold growth, it may cause the drain to work slowly or clog up completely.
5. Musty Odors Mean Trouble
Musty odors and mold go together and both are common in Florida homes. When mold grows in the AC drip pan or anywhere near the AC unit, it’s a sign of more water than normal in the area. This often means you have a clog.
Smelling mold in other areas of your home is often a result of a backed-up AC drainage line. The smell will usually spread through your home via the ductwork.
Cleaning the drainage line and removing mold, algae, and dirt should clear up the musty odor.
6. Have You Noticed Water Damage?
For snowbirds coming home for the winter, make sure you inspect your home for signs of excess moisture. Look for areas where you may have water damage.
While the musty odor we mentioned above is one sure sign of drainage line problems, visible water damage can also point to a damaged or clogged drainage line.
Calling your service tech as soon as possible can prevent further damage to both your home, your belongings, and your AC system.
Need to Schedule a Drainage Line Cleaning?
Now that you know the signs of a drainage line problem, you can do basic DIY maintenance to reduce the chance of clogs. Check with your HVAC technician for recommendations on cleaning solutions and techniques.
As part of your annual HVAC maintenance, your service tech should inspect and clean your drip pan and check your AC drainage line.
Our goal is preventing drainage line clogs, but we’re here to help clean the lines too. If you need to schedule drainage line cleaning or any other HVAC service, contact us today.