Is It Safe To Use Bleach To Unclog An A/C Drain Line? It is bound to happen to a homeowner at least occasionally. You wake up in the middle of the night, sweating and uncomfortable. A quick thermostat check confirms your worst fear; the A/C has stopped working. Do this before you panic and think that you will have to pay for a new system. Grab a flashlight and check your Air Conditioner’s condensate drain.
Your air conditioner drain is a white PVC pipe usually located outside the house, close to the air conditioner. Is it dripping? If not, the line has most likely become clogged with algae. When this happens, water produced by the air conditioning process fills the drain line. This sets off an emergency switch that cuts power to the unit. It would be best to unclog the pipe to get the team working again.
Another sign that your A/C drain line is clogged is water from the overflow tube. Water backs into the condensate pan when the main drain line is clogged. Here it collects until it reaches the level of the overflow drain. This overflow drain line is usually a few feet above the air conditioner outside the house. It will be dripping water if the main line is clogged.
You may be tempted to pour bleach into the line to fix the clog, but there are other methods to try first. Check the end of the main drain line. You will see a series of small elbows in the shape of the letter’ U.’ This trap holds water to prevent outside air from entering your air conditioning fan. Take apart the web and see if water flows freely from the line. If it does, clean and reassemble the trap.
If cleaning the trap does not clear the drain line, you may need to use compressed air to clear the clog. Only some people can access an air compressor, so this job is best for professionals.
Alternatively, you can use a wet/dry vacuum to suck the clog out of the line. Use a series of adapters to make a good seal around the bar. You can also use a garden hose to flush out a clog. Press the hose against the trap and force short bursts of water into the bar. Use a shallow pan to catch the water coming out of the web.
If you are successful, you will see clumps of different colored algae come out with the water.
Bleach has been used for years to clear blocked air conditioner drain lines. Professionals are now warning us against using too much bleach. It has acidic properties that can cause damage to the copper and aluminum components of the A/C. Vinegar has been suggested as a bleach substitute. It works just as well as bleach and will not stain your clothing. Both bleach and vinegar are best used to prevent algae from forming in the future.
Locate the PVC fitting where the drain line exits your A/C. There should be a tube with a cap. Remove the lid, and carefully pour a 50/50 mixture of warm water and bleach down the line using a funnel.
CAUTION: Bleach will stain clothing and irritate eyes and lungs. Be careful when handling! Make this a bi-monthly maintenance routine, especially during the summer months.
Some older systems do not have an emergency shut-off switch or a fitting used to add bleach to the drain system. Have your system checked by a professional before the busy summer season. He can add a simple fitting to the line to make adding bleach to the drain uncomplicated. Bleach tablets are also available for regular maintenance. Uncap the drain tube at the A/C unit, and drop a tablet in. The condensate water will dissolve the pill over time, preventing algae growth.
While you mean to be tempted to use bleach to unclog your aircon drain, line but the short answer is No, using bleach to clear an A/C drain line is not safe. Bleach can damage the drain line materials and corrode metal parts, leading to potential leaks and system failure.