Air Conditioners and Condensate Line Issues

What is an AC condensate line ?  This line is an exit route for moisture collected by the evaporator coil as air passes over it. This coil is triangle shaped, with a drip pan at the bottom. It is out of sight and behind the ductwork just above your furnace. Its job is to remove humidity from the air and change it to water. This water collects in the drain pan, and is emptied out the condensate line down and out through the floor drain.

As I write this blog, most provinces across Canada have been getting weeks of above average, very hot temperatures, and most people’s AC units, including mine, have been working overtime day and night to keep the homes at a comfortable temperature.

A very common issue with the condensate line is clogging. This is something that happens normally with time, as debris, and calcification from hard water builds up at the junction where the drip pan meets the line. Water can’t follow its normal path, and ends up spilling over the drip pan and collecting on the floor after running down the furnace plenum. It’s always frightening to see water puddles anywhere in your home, and the utility room is no different.

Signs the AC Drain line is clogged

1. Musty or moldy smell near your unit.

2. Standing water near the unit on the floor.

3. Water damage to the unit itself.

4. The AC unit is not cooling the home properly or shuts down.

How to unclog the Condensate line

1. Turn off your AC.

2. Remove the cap from the pipe, and check if there is any debris stuck in the end of the drain line.

3. Clean out any debris you find with a small tool, knife etc.

4. Pour a small amount of vinegar into the line so it runs to the drain.

5. reattach the drain line at the point where it was disconnected and retighten.

6. When the AC is running again, you should notice water freely running down the line and into the floor drain.

A little bit of maintenance at the beginning of warm weather will save you down the road from possible issues with your Air Conditioner and furnace. As always, I recommend having a qualified HVAC technician do this for you if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

Stay Cool !