How To Clean AC Drain Line With Vinegar?

3 mins read
How To Clean AC Drain Line With Vinegar?

As homeowners, our first instinct is to call a technician whenever our air conditioners have issues. 

Indeed, most HVAC-related problems require a high level of technical expertise to resolve, but there are some things that you can repair on your own. 

Here’s one example: A clogged drain line.

To clean the AC drain line with vinegar, you need to find the drain line and pour vinegar into it. 

Try this method first before reaching out to a technician.

But before I show you the specific steps, let me explain what an AC condensate drain line does and how you can diagnose the problem without professional help.

What Does My AC Condensate Drain Line Do?

The air conditioning system works because it cools the air from the indoor space and dehumidifies it. 

As the AC unit’s evaporator coil absorbs the heat, it creates condensation that goes out of your house through the condensate drain. 

Our science class tells us that condensation is when gas or vapor turns into liquid. This explains why water drips from the drain whenever you use your AC unit. 

Clogged AC Drain Line Symptoms and Causes

Clogged AC Drain Line Symptoms and Causes

Molds and algae like to breed and grow in moist environments, including your AC unit’s drain line. 

If you don’t take the time to remove them, they will eventually multiply and clog the PVC pipe. Besides blocking the water, it can cause damage that can be pretty expensive to repair.

The good news is that the latest HVAC systems have sensors that can notify you when the drain line is jammed. This way, you can take action sooner.

Unfortunately, older HVAC systems do not have this technology. This is why homeowners need to learn to look for signs of clogging. 

Here are the things that you need to watch out for:

  • Your AC unit would not switch on or turn off on its own. The clogged drain line causes the water overflowing and trips the float switch. When this happens, your AC unit will not switch on. 
  • You notice puddles of water near your air conditioner, which can result from water overflowing at the drain pan or drain line. 
  • The drain pan is filled with water, indicating that the excess moisture is not entering the drain pipe.

How To Clean AC Drain Line With Vinegar?

Remove the debris and pour the distilled vinegar into the rain

You can clean your AC drain line with vinegar by taking these steps:

Step 1. Switch off your AC, then locate the drain line

Before pouring vinegar, turn off the air conditioning system at the thermostat. Don’t forget to cut the power from the breaker. This will ensure that cleaning the drain line is done safely.

If you know where the condensate drain is, move to Step 2. Otherwise, find the PVC pipe first. It is usually located close to the outdoor unit, attached to the wall.

Step 2. Remove the debris and pour the distilled vinegar into the rain

Now, remove the cover or cap on the drain line. 

Pour ¼ cup of distilled water into the drain line and let it sit for 30 minutes. Note that the debris can take up to an hour to dissolve. Make sure to replace the cover afterward.

How Much And When Should You Use Vinegar For the Air Conditioner?

You can clean your AC drain line once every month by pouring ¼ cup of distilled vinegar. However, keep in mind that vinegar can work on light buildups. 

Remember, the goal is to prevent molds and algae from completely taking over your drain, so you must make pouring some into your drain line a habit. You can set up a reminder on your phone or mark your calendar so you don’t forget. 

Is Bleach or Vinegar Better for Your AC Drain Line?

Most of us hate the odor, but vinegar is safer because it is less “reactive.” 

On the other hand, bleach can eat away at the drain line and damage the cement and glue connecting the cable to the condensation pan and fittings. 

You will also notice that most HVAC professionals favor distilled vinegar over other types of vinegar. It contains around 95% water and 5% acetic acid. Hence, it can clear up the blockage effectively without causing damage.

Do not attempt to mix bleach and vinegar if your AC unit’s drain line is still clogged despite pouring vinegar.

While we all use bleach and vinegar to clean various surfaces, this article on Health Line recommends against it. Combined, these two substances release a chlorine gas that harms your health.

How Often Should You Put Vinegar in Your Air Conditioner?

HVAC professionals recommend pouring vinegar into your air conditioning system’s drain line once or every other month. 

What Else Can I Use To Clean My AC Drain Line?

What Else Can I Use To Clean My AC Drain Line?

If you are highly sensitive to pungent odors, there are other options that you can try. You can use peroxide or a mixture of hot water and dish soap as substitutes. 

These substances do not harm the PVC material that makes up the drain line, fittings, and glue.

If the vinegar, peroxide, or soap mixture does not flush down the drain, you can remove the debris or whatever is causing the blockage with a stiff brush or an old rag. 

If none of these efforts work, it is time to call a technician.

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