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Understand, Diagnose, and Repair Clogged Condensate Lines

HVAC System
When most homeowners think about their heating and cooling systems, they think about the thermostat, filters, and outdoor units. Even though these are key parts of a HVAC system, the condenser and condensate drain lines are also important elements for effective and efficient heating and cooling.
Unfortunately, you may not realize the importance of your air conditioning system's drain lines. This guide and your contractor can help you understand, diagnose, and repair clogged condensate drain lines.

Understand Condensate Lines

Before you can understand how condensate drain lines operate, you need to understand how the air conditioning system cools your home.
The air conditioning consists of two parts, which are the evaporator and the condenser. To cool your home, coolant travels from the condenser to the evaporator, moving over an expansion valve that turns the coolant into a gas, which is responsible for cooling your home.
To start the process all over again, the coolant moves into the compressor, so it can be compressed back into a liquid. As the coolant reaches the evaporator, moisture in the air condenses. This moisture drips down into a pan under the evaporator, drains down out of the system through a series of pipes before making its way out of your home.
Known as the condensate or drain lines, these lines are responsible for draining the moisture out of your home during the air conditioning process.

Know the Signs of Clogged Condensate Lines

Over time, dirt, debris, moisture, mold, and algae can build up inside the condensate lines. This buildup can eventually cause the lines to clog, reducing the system's ability to drain moisture out of the home. If the lines are clogged, you will see some changes in your home and the way in which your air conditioning system operates.
If the condensate pan is full of water, additional moisture flowing out of the drain lines will move into the drain pain, causing the water to spill over. This standing water around your air handler/evaporator coil is usually the most noticeable sign of a clogged condensate drain.
Water around your AC components may not seem like a bit problem. However, standing water attracts pests, such as mosquitoes, termites, and other insects and wildlife. In addition, standing water can wash away your grass, plants, mulch, and pine straw while increasing the risk of flooding in your crawlspace/foundation.
Without a drain that is moving the water out of your home, you may notice an increase in humidity levels. If your home feels clammy and warm even while running your air conditioner, measure the humidity with a hygrometer, or contact a contractor to determine if humidity is too high in your home.
Healthy humidity levels in your home should be between 30 and 60 percent. If levels are higher, your overall comfort will be decreased. High humidity can also damage wood, upholstery, paint, and electronics while increasing your risk of allergies.
A foul, musty odor in and around your home may also indicate you have water building up because of a clogged condensate drain. This odor may also indicate mold and algae growth inside your home, which will require extensive remediation to protect your health.

Prevent Clogs in Your Condensate Lines

Prevention is your best weapon against clogged condensate drain lines. Change your system's filters regularly since these filters are designed to trap dirt and dust, ensuring airflow moves in and out of your home properly. Regular filter changes will also prevent the amount of dirt and dust that build up in your drain lines.
Flushing the drain lines periodically is also beneficial for preventing clogs. Consider flushing the lines with bleach or a vinegar solution, which are both effective for killing algae and mold.
For help with clogged condensate lines or other issues affecting your heating and cooling system, contact Carter's Air Conditioning Service.


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