Central air conditioners typically do a great job when it comes to cooling off the home, and the entire system should last about 10 to 15 years as long as you are careful about scheduling maintenance at least once of twice a year. Even with regular maintenance, you still will likely need to complete a few basic repair tasks on your own. This is the case if you notice that your home suddenly becomes humid and your air conditioner does not seem to be working well. Also, you may notice your energy bills rising. If you note these issues in your home when the air conditioner is running, then the problem is likely with the condensate drain. Keep reading to understand the problem and to also learn about how to fix it.
Understanding Condensate Drain Issues
Your central air conditioner has two large parts that work together to pump cool air through your home. One part of the unit sits outside and is called the condenser, and the inside unit is called the evaporator. The outside unit allows coolant to move through a compressor that places the coolant under pressure inside the copper coils running through the unit. The coolant becomes cold as it compresses and it is pumped into the evaporator unit inside the home. A blower forces warm interior air across the coolant lines where it becomes cold. The cooled air is then pumped through your ducts or vents.
During the air cooling process, moisture is drawn out of the warm air. This water condenses on the coolant lines and then drips downward into a collection bin where it is moved out of the house through a drain. The bin and drain line together make up the condensate drain. Unfortunately, the humid air around your air conditioner, the moisture inside of it, and the heat of your basement can cause mold to form in both the holding bin and the drain. This will cause a clog to form eventually.
Moisture will remain in the air when the drain is clogged. Dry air can be cooled more effectively than humid air, so the presence of the moisture will cause air conditioning issues. The AC unit will need to work harder, but you will likely not feel cooler. The best way to restore the function of your air conditioner is to make sure the drain line is free of clogs.
Unclogging The Drain
To start the unclogging process, you will need to locate the drain pan that sits along the bottom of the air conditioner. Typically, there will be a metal access panel where the pan is located. Release the panel gently and look for a long flat pan. The container will likely have some water in it and it may be overflowing if the drain line is plugged. Use a wet and dry vacuum or several rags to remove the water from it.
Use a flashlight to find a flexible drain line attached to the back of the drain pan. The end of the drain will usually be fitted with a cover, so remove it gently with your fingers. Inspect the end of the line for thick pieces of mold. If the line is clogged near this access point, then use the end of your shop vacuum to suck it out. If you do not immediately see a clog, place either two cups of white vinegar or two cups of hydrogen peroxide in the drain pan. Gently lift the front of the pan so the contents are forced through the drain line. Allow the fluid to eat through the clog and inspect the outside end of the drain to make sure that the fluid is draining about 15 to 30 minutes later.
You should flush the line with water afterwards by filling a two liter container with water and slowly pouring it into the drain pan. Use your flashlight to make sure the water drains as you pour the water. For more information, contact a company like Controlled Comfort.