Air Conditioner Maintenance – Condensate Drain

My wife and I just had the house painted and were congratulating ourselves on how well the house looked when she looked up at the ceiling and said,”There’s water dripping from the ceiling!”

I immediately punched a couple of small holes in the ceiling to let the water drip out and started a 24 hour campaign to find out what the cause was. I thought that it might have been the rain we just had, or that the house cleaner had spilled some water in a bathroom area.

What I came to realize was that the water was coming from our attic air conditioner. This unit has a pipe attached to it which drains the water from the a/c unit. The problem was that the drain over time builds up sediment, rust, dust and lint, algae and possibly even insects and will eventually clog up the drain.

What compounded our problem was that the drain had a lot of 90 degree elbows through the ceiling and made it even harder for the water to drain. When our drain eventually clogged up, one of the elbows was loose and started dripping through the first floor ceiling.

$380.00 later I’ve learned a few things which might help you from having this problem in the future.

  • You need to clean out the drain at least once a year. Pour down bleach or a bleach and water solution to clean out the drain. Depending on how much you run your a/c you might want to do this more often.
  • If that doesn’t clean it out, you can try using a “Charles Gallo Drain Gun.” It uses CO2 cartridges to clean out the line. It costs $35 plus $2/cartridge.
  • You can also try using your wet/dry shop vac to clean out the line, but this did not work for me.
  • My a/c guy eventually blew out the line with a large Nitrogen tank, but with a loose fitting I decided to abandon my old line and put in a new line.
  • My a/c guy recommends a 1.5″ line for the drain. Most people put in a smaller 3/4 inch line, but that’s not as good. I used an old 1″ line that I had.
  • If you don’t have a logical opening to pour in the bleach, you will need to add some T fittings to your line.
  • I also put caps on these fittings to keep out debris and insects from getting into the lines.
  • If you’re going away on vacation – turn off your a/c, so that if this problem occurs, it won’t cause massive problems while you are gone.
  • I’m also going to put a water alarm in my attic just in case my drain would clog again and the water would go into the spill pan.

Conclusion: Your condensate drain is going to clog at some point and you’re going to have a leak if you don’t do preventive maintenance.



About Tom Terrific

Interested in MANY things.

Posted on August 15, 2014, in Home Repairs. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You would be impressed by the A/C easy tee fitting it will make drain maintenance fast, easy and profitable. It is available at Johnstone Supply.

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