Because the drain line is an enclosed, wet space, it’s a prime location for mold, mildew, and sludge to make it their home. In addition, dirt and debris or even bugs can work their way in. If not drained regularly, all of these items could cause a clog in the line.

If you do not remove the clog immediately, water will continue to build up in your condenser pan. Even worse, the water can start to build up in your unit’s indoor evaporator pan, which can potentially cause damage to your system or home.

Signs of a Clogged AC Condensate Drain Line

The most common signs that you may have a drain line are the following:

  • Air conditioner is not cooling your home
  • AC is dripping water
  • AC won’t turn on
  • Higher energy bills

There’s not one single person on this planet who would find the items listed above desirable. Therefore, if there’s one simple DIY you want to learn how to do, this is it.

How to Unclog Your AC Condensate Drain Line

It is not difficult to remove a blockage in your unit’s condensate drain and tray. Follow the steps below to learn how to do it yourself.

Never pour bleach or other household cleaners into your condensate line. This can damage your system and your home. Only use cleaners that are made specifically for cleaning condensate lines. If you want an all-natural option, a solution of vinegar and distilled water can help eliminate and prevent algae and bacteria growth.


  • Measuring cup
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar


Step 1. Turn off your air conditioner. To avoid shock or electrical damage, switch your air conditioner to “OFF” on your thermostat as well as at the circuit breaker panel.

Step 2. Locate the drain pipe. If you live in a single-family home, it’ll be located outside, where the condenser unit sits. If you live in a building, it’ll be located in the same closet as the furnace. It’s a PVC pipe with a plastic cap.

Step 3. Remove the cap from the pipe. You won’t need tools for this. Pulling it off with your hands will suffice.

Step 4. Check to see if there is any debris stuck in the drain. Visually inspect the drain line for any debris that may be causing the blockage. If it’s too dark, shine a flashlight on it.

Step 5. Remove any visible debris and retest for proper drainage. Manually remove any visible debris, be careful not to accidentally push it further down.

Step 6. Pour in Vinegar. Once the debris is removed, slowly pour one cup of distilled white vinegar into the pipe.

Step 7. Replace the drain cap. Wait half an hour before turning on your air conditioner again.

Please do note that this is a simple way of cleaning a condensate drain line if you regularly provide it with maintenance.  If it’s been years and you’ve never cleaned your AC drain line before, you may need a more aggressive method to remove a clog, such as a wet/dry vacuum.  While the steps above are simple enough to do at home, it’s crucial to schedule regular HVAC maintenance with a certified technician. That’s the only way to ensure your air conditioner runs as efficiently as possible. As a result, you’ll reduce your energy bills and extend the life of your AC.

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