How to prevent thousands of dollars in water damage.  Pippin Brothers, Lawton, OK
July 31, 2013

Everyone in Oklahoma knows how humid the summers can be. And it’s because of this humidity that your home could run into hundreds-- possibly even thousands-- of dollars in water damage.

How in the world is that possible? It’s possible if your home’s condensate drain line becomes clogged with dirt, debris or a buildup of rust or algae.

We’ll explain how this happens in this blog post.

First let’s cover what a condensate drain line is.

What is a condensate drain line?

A condensate drain line helps remove excess water that drips off of your air conditioner’s inside unit. It may help to understand why this happens.

Imagine this: When you have a glass of water with ice in it, the humidity in the air surrounding the glass is cooled down. The cooled moisture in the air forms those little droplets on your glass. That’s condensation.

The same thing happens with your air conditioner. When your air conditioner removes humid air from the living space through your return vents to be cooled, water droplets form on the evaporator coils (the part that’s cooling the air).

That water needs to go somewhere. Enter: The condensate drain line. This drains the water to a floor drain, laundry tub, sump pump, condensate pump or a small 3/4 inch PVC piped directly outside your house.

So why does this matter?

Imagine if that drain line was clogged: All that water formed by condensation has nowhere to go and backs up into your home.

This creates a variety of problems including:

  • Causing hundreds to thousands of dollars in water damage
  • Creating a breeding ground for mold, mildew, virus and bacteria
  • Causing a house fire if the water drip onto any electrical components

The source of the clogs is usually algae which thrives and grows in dark, damp areas. Other sources can be dirt, dust, debris, or insulation fibers in the main indoor coil drain pan.

What are signs that my condensate drain line is clogged?

Luckily, most homes have a secondary drain line that drips only when your main line is clogged. This drain line is higher and towards to the roof line or attic. If you see this leaking, you’ll know that the main drain line is clogged.

If this secondary line becomes clogged, and your air handler (the inside portion of your air conditioning unit containing the coil and fan) or indoor coil is located in your attic, you’ll notice water leaking from your ceiling.

If this is the case, call an air conditioner professional to unclog the drain for you.

How to keep condensate drain line clogs from causing problems

There are plenty of things you can do to keep clogs from causing water damage in your home:

  • Get annual air conditioner maintenance- A typical air conditioner tune-up includes checking your drain line so that there are no clogs and clearing the drain line as a precautionary measure.
  • Make sure drains lines are properly pitched (angled down)- Water flows downhill, so you need to make sure the drain line is proper pitched. Also, ensure drain lines don’t sag and be sure not to store items on top of drain lines in your attic.
  • Use a wet/dry vacuum- Connect the hose to the drain line to suck out any algae or debris that has built up in the drain line.
  • Keep an eye on the secondary drain line- Next time an air conditioner contractor is at your home, ask him or her where your secondary drain line is. If it’s dripping water, you know you have a problem.
  • Install a safety switch- You can install a safety switch on your drain line that automatically shuts off your AC if the drain line is clogged. This helps you avoid expensive water damage.

Need help unclogging your condensate drain line? Schedule an appointment online for us to come by. Note: scheduling online cuts 10% off our visit.

Pippin Brothers is the Lawton-area’s most trusted heating, air conditioning and plumbing company. We’ve been serving Oklahoma since 1978. Contact us for more information.