Kung Fu Maintenance demonstrates how to unclog a clogged air conditioner condensate drain that has made a small flood and wet carpet in front of an AC.
Oh no, wet carpet. Well it’s all right here in front of the air conditioner. And most times, what this is a clogged condensation drain line from the AC; it’s pretty hot these days. So let’s open this up and take a look. And where the leak is at, we’ll have different options, just kind of wanted to go through a bunch of different steps today on clogged condensation leaks. So let’s take a look here, let me open service panel door here. So it’s got this little keyed latch that that we need in order to open the service panel, I usually just use my screwdriver. That lets us remove the panel. Oh yeah, this one is actually at the pan. You can see how full the pan is full of water and it’s overflowing. You’ll see some setups out there where you’ve got a pan like this filled with water and if it overflows, there’s an exterior pan that has a condensate float switch. So if the pan overflows then it will trip the float switch until you can clean it up. My particular setup does not have it. Here’s the condensate drain, and what it has is a vent in the condensate drain so the entire drain line goes out back. There’s a trap right behind here for the vent here.
And so what we can do is vacuum from the vent or vacuum from outside. If water was overflowing right here, we’d actually want to vacuum from outside. My particular setup drains into gravel well. Because our clog is right here at the drain, it’s either at the drain or it’s in the trap there, most likely in the trap. I should be able to unplug it here and not necessarily need to unplug it outside. If I did need to unplug it outside, what I’d do is hook up my wet/dry vacuum back there, come over here and seal this side where I’ll pull in the water out with the wet/dry vacuum and that way it pulls all the way to the clogged drain here. So anyway, get this going, check it out here.
I regularly change air filters, so I’ll be changing the air filter today. And also add condensate pan tablets to the drain so it doesn’t form mold and fungus and all that funky stuff so that it’s not just water. So when they have a leak like this, it’ not just water, it’s actually treated water with anti-mold, anti-fungal, anti-coagulant, and it also keeps odors away, all that good stuff, anyway, going to be vacuuming this out right here. These drains work via gravity, just like normal drains, so it drains to a well out back where the level is lower than it is here at the drain pan and as well as at the vent. So as long as it’s lower there, it’s draining to there.
And sometimes if I hook up my wet/dry vacuum from here, we may need to go and put a cover. I usually use, when I have to cover either these vents or that outside cover, I’ve got these little tags that are very laminated material. And so I’ll just fold that and put that over the hole and that makes a really good seal. If you have a cap or something like that, you can use that, but I like to use these. Anyway, get this going.
I’ve got my nice little Stinger wet/dry vacuum, this thing is a tool of champion’s right here. This little Stinger wet/dry vacuum converts to a blower so it’s really useful for situations like these. So we’re going to be hooking up my suction hose right here, and the nice thing about this is it just pretty much slips right over the top, I can use my hand to seal the rest of it off. So here’s to the vacuum.
And I’ve actually got a plug usually right here at the area, so it makes it nice and convenient for getting this done. Plug it in there and we’re ready to vacuum and we’ll see if it pulls it from the pan or not. So ideally it’s going to pull it from right there and we’ll know that we’re clear. So here it goes. You can see a lot of sludge in there. So there’s definitely a lot of sludge in there and I also just want to ensure that the other side is clear. So, I either vacuum it from out back or what I can do is plug this side. So I’m just going to tear off a piece of this laminated deal that I showed you earlier like so. What I’m going to do is insert it and just block the condensate drain line right here. Block the hole and then run the vacuum and pull water from outside.
I only needed to do that for a little while just to ensure that everything was clear there. And then now, whatever I can, I’ll vacuum from the pan. Although, this is a slant coil so there’s not really much room to get in there but I’d like to vacuum out some of that sludge. The problem is you can see some rust in the pan. We want to avoid putting any kind of pressure on that pan, we just want to vacuum it but without pushing the vacuum because we don’t want to create a leak or put a hole in the pan. And it is older, it’s probably solid and it’s probably fine but, again, no reason to cause a situation.
Okay. So I’m just going to vacuum down in there, pull my vacuum hose up here. Let’s see if we can get any of that sludge. And there’s, again, not much that I can reach but slip that down in there and vacuum it up.
Okay, I got what I could that way. Anyway, so we’re all clear now and now it’s just going to be a little follow-up and preventative maintenance here, changing the air filter. This particular air filter is a 16 by 20 by 1. So it just slides out of this side here, this, again, is a slant coil filter. So now it’s just the preventative maintenance side. And coil is a tiny bit dirty but not too bad, definitely not the worst I’ve seen. Changing the filters regularly is really the key to keeping that all working good and running good. So let’s slip our new filter in, just going to make sure that the arrows that are on the filter are pointing the correct way. The arrow is pointing in, that’s where the air goes through. Let’s do the filter through the coil. All right, then we get this heat from the unit.
Okay, now what I have is these condensate pan tablets. These are really good in that they have, again, an anti-mold, anti-fungal, helps minimize odors and get rid of smells and irritants and stuff that can cause all kinds of troubles, especially people that are sensitive, has asthma or any kind of a situation like that. Anyway, it calls for at least two tablets for three tons; this is a two-ton system. What I’m going to do is try to position the tablets where they’re going to be dripped condensate on. Probably some of the sludge that we saw in there might have been from old tablets. Anyway, I’m going to put two in the front, back here. There we go. And then I’ll put two in the back also, if possible. This one doesn’t seem like there’s really any room to get to in the back so I’m just going to have to put them in the front again. I can try to push one down a little further but, again, I want to avoid putting any kind of pressure on that pan. It is solid but still just don’t want to make things worse. Anyway, set the tablets up there and the condensate will drop across them. This is better than bleach; bleach actually can cause some people some irritants. And so this stuff is a little bit milder than that but it also does the trick of what it’s supposed to do and some added functions. The anti-coagulant keeps dirt from clumping together so they really help keep everything going here.
So we’re all set to go here, just going to give one final little vacuum pull the rest of the water through there. Just to make sure all the sludge is gone. Okay, so now we’re all set there, Sting did its job. Let’s take a look at this water here and see all the sludge, yeah, yummy, delicious stuff. Okay. So now it’s just a little bit of dealing with the carpet. So, get that going, put my lid back on and my air conditioner is ready to roll again, ready to keep things nice and chilly and keep everybody breathing easier with the new filter and the tablets to keep everything nice and comfy and not stinky.
Okay, and again, if we did have a leak in the future, the nice thing of putting those tablets in there is the water won’t just be water; it will be treated water. It’s kind of like pouring a cleaning chemical on stuff. Okay. So we’re good to go there. One AC ready to roll.
One other thing I should tell you is some units will have two drains, a primary and a secondary drain. Especially your units on a second floor or if you have a unit where a unit is in the attic of a house, a lot of times you’ll have a primary and a secondary drain. Some out there might even have three drains, so just something to be aware of, you might need to clear them all.
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