During these hot summer months that are only getting hotter, one of the most critical pieces of equipment we rely on is our air conditioner. One of the most critical elements of an air conditioning unit is the condenser and while checking the logistics of your AC unit yourself might seem like a daunting task to undertake, if your air conditioner condenser is clogged or blocked, it might be worth some free DIY work before you call in an Ace Hi Maintenance professional.


What Does an AC Condenser Do?

In the process of an AC unit using coolant to convert hot air to cold air, the purpose of the condenser is to convert the coolant vapor heated by the compressor into a cold coolant liquid.  This eventually is converted into cold vapor using the heat from the surrounding air. During this condensing process, the moisture that is pulled from the air is drained from the unit through a drain line that might exit your house directly or might feed out through your bathroom drain.


What Are Some Symptoms of a Clogged AC Condenser? 

There are a number of things that can block your AC condenser drain line, especially if the line runs directly out of the house. Dirt, algae and mold, plant matter, or insects can get trapped in the drain and clog it up. If the drain piping is improperly set up, or the drain line exit from your house is obstructed, that can also cause blockages in the condenser.

At best, this can cause the condensation liquid to accumulate in the drip pan, and if you have a newer model, safety sensors will shut the unit off once the liquid reaches a certain level. At worst, the condensate can leak out or the drip pan can overflow and cause water damage in your house, or even possibly leak nasty coolant chemicals.

Should I Try To Unblock The Condenser Myself?

The first thing you should do is to check the drain line or drip pan for any obvious cracks or leaks. Should those show no obvious damage, it should point to a clogged condenser drain pipe. But fret not as there are a few steps you can try yourself before giving your trusted Ace Hi HVAC professional a call. You’ll need a wet-dry vacuum, a bucket to catch all the gunk your vacuum might dispel, as well as some white vinegar, or chlorine bleach, or hydrogen peroxide.

  1. Start by turning off your AC unit at both the thermostat and the breaker. Water + electricity + you is rarely a good combination and safety is always important!
  2. If the exit point of your condenser drain pipe is outside your house, start by locating it and seeing if it is conveniently placed enough to attach and maneuver your wet-vac around. (If the exit point is not outside your house or too inaccessible, you can move on to step 5).
  3. Connect your wet-dry vac to end of the drain pipe exit point. If the vacuum hose is too big or too small to create an airtight suction with the pipe, you can try placing your hands around the connection point to seal it off, or you can purchase a wet-vac attachment that will properly hook up to the drain pipe.
  4. Make sure your bucket is properly positioned to catch any debris being sucked out, and turn on your wet-vac and let it run for a couple minutes. It might be worth repositioning the vacuum-drain pipe connection a few times to make sure you are getting the proper suction. Hopefully you should see some sludgy gunk and grime being dispelled into your wet-vac bucket.  
  5. If this still hasn’t cleared the drain line enough, or if you were unable to access your drain pipe exit point, then start by locating the drain line access point (curved PVC piping) near your indoor air handler. Take off the cap/plug, and from here, you can attach the wet-vac to the drain line and try the same process of making an airtight connection and sucking out any crud into your bucket.
  6. If this still hasn’t cleared your condenser drain line, or if you are just a stickler for thoroughness, you can try using one of your preferred corrosive liquids (bleach, vinegar, or peroxide) to break down any blockage (BE AWARE: if your drain line exit point is outside, this liquid should come out of that exit point, and might kill any plants or animals who come into contact with it). Just pour the desired liquid down the drain line through the access point and let it do its corroding for half an hour or so before flushing the line out with water or your wet-vac.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to clear out any clogged condenser drain pipe. But if you have tried everything and you still have a full drip pan and a hot house, Ace Hi is here to help. Just give us a call and we will have an Ace Hi technician at your house and fixing your AC unit in no time. 

How To Avoid a Clogged Air Conditioner Condenser In the Future

A clogged AC condenser is one of the most common maintenance issues for air conditioning units, but it is also one of the most avoidable ones too. Following the steps above on a consistent annual basis will halt any buildup of gunk that might cause this problem in the future, and leave you and your wallet feeling a little better. If you are still having problems, or just want the peace of mind that an HVAC professional will bring, Loveland’s air conditioning maintenance specialists at Ace Hi are here for you. Call today to schedule an appointment.