Can You Snake An AC Drain Line? [And How To]

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You may have a clogged AC drain line which is usually due to the build of algae or mineral deposits but wondering if it can be snaked. Luckily, we have consulted experts in this field, and here's what they have to say.

An AC drain line can be snaked to remove blockages. Always be careful when snaking the drain line to avoid pushing the clog inside.

Here are the step-by-step procedures for snaking an AC drain line:

  • Locate and remove the cap of the drain clean-out.
  • Force the snake inside.
  • Turn the snake severally to unclog the drain line.
  • Remove the snake.

You can easily snake an AC drain line without the help of a professional. Keep reading to get detailed information on how to tackle the problem of clogged AC drain lines.

Lennox air conditioning unit on the back of a house, Can You Snake An AC Drain Line? [And How To]

How To Snake An AC Drain Line

If you have tried using a shop vac and water to unclog an AC drain line but didn't succeed, you should try a drain snake. Do these when you have a stubborn clog in your drain line:

Step 1: Locate And Remove The Cap Of The Drain Clean-out

To snake an AC drain line the first step to take is to locate the drain clean-out. When you do, remove the cap. You can do this by driving a screwdriver into the cap's outer edge. Next, gently tap it using a hammer. If you break the cap in the process you replace them easily since they are cheap.

Step 2: Force The Snake Inside

Force the snake inside the drain line access which is located close to the air handler. Do not direct the drain snake toward the air handler to avoid damaging the evaporator coil.

Step 3: Turn The Snake Severally To Unclog The Drain Line

When the drain snake is inside the drain line access, twist the snake until you break through the clog. Do this gently to avoid damaging the drain line.

Step 4: Remove The Snake

Pull out the snake when you are sure that the clog has broken up.

Drain snakes cannot handle the 90-degree turns if the trap has PVC elbows. They have bendable stainless steel and a fishing bob-like ball at the end. The other side is connected to a power drill, which augers all of the gunk inside the pipe.

A Carrier air conditioning unit on concrete slab

It is better to use the PVC elbow traps than air or water pressure. You can break through a clog by vacuuming or blowing pressurized air into the line.

What Happens When AC Drain Line Clog?

There are many things that can go wrong when an AC drain line clogs and if the problem isn't tackled, it might get worse. Here are some problems that can arise as a result of a clogged drain line:

Air Conditioner Freezes

When the drain line is clogged, water begins to accumulate in your system. This will also make the evaporator coil freeze. The trapped moisture can also freeze, causing your system to go off. The AC may start having some problems before the moisture causes it to go off. This is why you should check your drain line monthly.

Drain Pan Overflows

The condensate drain line can be found underneath the evaporator coil of your system at the indoor unit. When the AC collects moisture from the air, it directs it to the pan before draining it through the line. If your drain line is blocked, the drain pan will overflow, causing the growth of microbes. 

Clogged Line Damages Property

When you have a clogged drain line, your air conditioning system doesn't suffer alone. Other property and belongings may also be affected.

When the drain pan overflows, the liquid can damage drywall, prompt leaks, and also affect electrical wiring. Vinegar prevents clogging.

Why Does AC Drain Line Clog?

Air conditioner drain pipes are susceptible to clogging for several reasons. AC drain line gets blocked when dirt, mineral deposits, or algae accumulates on the indoor coil. When a drain line is clogged, the water tries to find a way to escape, this makes water accumulate in the drain pan.

It is better to clean your AC drain line at least once a month. Cleaning the AC drain line often helps prevent blockage. When you clean the drain line often, mold, algae, mildew, and other particles won't accumulate there and cause a clog. You should do this monthly to keep your drain line free from blockages.

When you have a clogged drain line, either use a drain snake, vinegar and water, or wet/dry vacuum to tackle the clog. If you want to use vinegar, all you have to do is to pour it down the system's drain line. If you want to vacuum, just run the vacuum for some minute and the clog will be out.

How Do You Tell If Your AC Drain Is Clogged?

Compressor units at the back of a house

During annual maintenance check-ups, many HVAC professionals may examine and remove debris from the AC condensate drain. If you don't check your drain regularly, it may get clogged without you knowing. Here are some signs of a clogged AC drain line:

  • Musty, moldy odor around your air conditioning system.
  • Accumulation of water around the indoor unit.
  • Water damage close to the indoor unit.
  • The air conditioner turns off or does not come on.

How Long Does It Take To Snake An AC Drain Line?

You can easily tackle a clogged drain line without the help of a professional. All you have to do is to break through the clog with a drain snake. This process should take about 30 minutes.

Two air compressor units mounted on metal brackets

Is Bleach Or Vinegar Better For AC Drain Line?

When your drain line is blocked with dirt and debris, you can use white vinegar or bleach down the line to eliminate blockages. This is one of the most popular ways to eliminate dirt accumulated in a drain line.

But it is better to use vinegar for your AC drain line because bleach can damage your system. Here are some reasons why you shouldn't use bleach for your drain line:

Bleach Vapour Is Harmful

Both bleach and vinegar have distinct smells. Neither smell is pleasant, so you will have to flush your drain a few times with just water to get rid of them. Inhaling bleach vapor can be dangerous, so you should use vinegar instead. After the cleaning process, vinegar is easier to wash out of the line.

Bleach Cause Damages

Bleach should not be used on drain pipes made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or ABS plastic during the winter. Not only does bleach damage the line, but it can also affect the adhesive and cement that connects the line to the valves and the condensate pan. If your drainpipe is PVC, use white distilled vinegar to unclog it instead.

If you pour bleach down the drain while the unit is turned off, it may leave remnants that damage the drain pan and line. It is safer to use vinegar when cleaning your drain line, you just have to wash it out well.

How Much Vinegar Do I Need To Clean My AC Drain Line?

A Carrier AC mounted on a concrete slab

Cleaning your AC drain regularly prevents blockage. 1/4 cup of vinegar in your drain line is enough to get rid of mildew, algae, mold, or other particles that have accumulated in the drain line. 

Before starting the cleaning, make sure to turn off your AC unit. Then find the drain line for your system. After you locate the drain line's access point, remove the cap of the drain and pour 1/4 cup of distilled vinegar into the drain line.

It is better to use distilled white vinegar since the increased acidity enhances the cleaning process.

To Wrap Up

Lennox air conditioning unit on the back of a house

You can snake your drain line to remove stubborn clogs. This task should be carried out carefully to avoid damaging the evaporator coil.

To snake an AC drain line, you need to put the snake down the line and twist severally to break through the clog. You can also pour vinegar into the drain line to remove clogs. If you are finding it difficult to tackle the clog in your system, you can contact a professional for help.

 If you enjoyed reading this post, here are similar articles you may like:

Water Leaking From Furnance When AC Is On - What To Do?

Should Air Be Coming Out Of My Condensate Drain Line?

No Water Coming Out Of AC Drain Pipe - What's Wrong?

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