AC Drain Line Clogged? Don’t Use Bleach Or Vinegar Until You Read This


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What is That Gross White Slime in My AC Drain Line?

A clogged AC drain line is a common air conditioning problem, though you may not have ever realized that such a thing can happen. Over time, drain lines can back up with a horrible-looking white slimy substance, impeding the flow of condensation through the piping. When this happens and the condensation has no outlet, it ends up backing up into the AC's condensation pan, which can eventually overflow and cause leaks and water damage.

white slime from clogged AC drain line

But what exactly is all that nasty goo?

The gross white slime you're seeing in your AC drain line is most likely a combination of mold, mildew, algae, and other organic matter. This phenomenon is quite common in air conditioning systems, particularly in warm and humid climates like ours here in Central Florida.

Here's how it typically happens:

  1. Moisture and Warmth: The inside of an air conditioning system provides an ideal environment for mold, mildew, and algae to grow. It's cool, dark, and often damp due to condensation.

  2. Airborne Particles: Dust, dirt, and other particles in the air can get sucked into the AC system. These particles may contain organic matter like skin cells, pollen, and more.

  3. Bacterial Growth: Bacteria and fungi thrive on the organic matter and moisture present in the AC system, leading to the formation of the slime.

Why You Should Avoid Cleaning Your AC Drain Line with Bleach or Vinegar

So your AC drain line is clogged and you are trying to figure out what to do next. You've come to the right place.

Being an air conditioning company located in the heart of Central Florida, we are well acquainted with clogged AC drain lines. Our year round high temperatures and high humidity make us prone to higher rates of clogged AC drain lines than just about anywhere else in the country. And our technicians collectively unclog and clean thousands of AC drain lines each year.

So please trust us when we tell you to put away your bleach and your vinegar.

Despite it being common for people to recommend using a vinegar or bleach solution to clean your AC drain lines, we're going to tell you why it's not a good idea.

1. Bleach and Vinegar are Corrosive to Metals

The reason you shouldn't use bleach or vinegar to clean your AC drain line all boils down to the fact that these chemicals are corrosive to metals. In other words, they literally eat away at metal.

Why is that a problem you ask?

2. Bleach and Vinegar Can Damage Your Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil is inside of your indoor air handler. It is normally just inches away from your AC drain line.

The job of an evaporator coil is to cool your air by removing moisture. The moisture from the evaporator coil then collects in the drain pain and is directed into the drain line and out of your home.

Evaporator coils are normally made out of copper or aluminum. So what happens if a corrosive chemical such as bleach or vinegar comes into contact with your evaporator coil? It's going to corrode!

Using bleach or vinegar can be especially risky if you think your AC drain line is clogged. If the drain line is clogged, the corrosive mixture will simply back up in your drain line and flow into your drain pan, which in turn can damage your evaporator coil.

So if using bleach or vinegar can damage your evaporator coil, what should you do instead?

How to Clean A Clogged AC Drain Line

Failing to clean your AC drain line will cause your unit to turn off when it's clogged and potentially cause water to pour out onto the ground.

So you definitely need to be cleaning your AC drain line regularly.

But what is the best way to do it? Well, here is how we do it when we perform an annual AC maintenance for our customers.

1. Attempt to Manually Clear Any Blockage

The first thing you should do is to use your hands to manually clear blockage. Find the end of your drain line (located outside of your home) and make sure it's not clogged. Reach your fingers inside and attempt to clear away debris.

2. Use a Shop Vac and Water

Next, connect your shop vac hose to the end of your drain line (the one outside). If the hose connects loosely, you can use a cloth or duct tape to create an airtight seal. Turn the vacuum on.

At the same time, get a gallon jug of water and a funnel. Slowly pour water into the drain line access point near your air handler. The shop vac should suck the water (and any debris) out of your drain line and into your vacuum.

3. Use a Drain Snake

If you have a very stubborn clog that doesn't come out with a shop vac and water, then you can try using a drain snake. Push the drain snake down into the drain line access near the air handler. Make sure the that the drain snake does not go towards your air handler or you could potentially damage the evaporator coil.

4. Rebuild the Drain Line

In some worst case scenarios the clog is so bad and hardened, that the only way to fix it is to completely rebuild the drain line. We have only had a few situations that warranted this extreme approach, but we do want to include it as another option.

Join Our Comfort Club Preventative Maintenance Program

If all of this sounds "nice", but you just don't have the time or desire to do this on a regular basis, then we invite you to sign up for our Comfort Club annual AC preventative maintenance program. When you join, we'll come to your house once or twice a year (you choose) and do a complete tune-up on your system. This always includes cleaning the drain line. And if you choose to sign up for the twice a year plan, then we will always come unclog your drain line for free, which can end up saving you a lot of money.

Contact Pro-Tech Air Conditioning & Plumbing Service today to sign up for our annual AC maintenance plan, or simply give us a call at (877) 416-4727.

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