AC systems can clog up and lead to costly issues. To keep that from happening you should periodically clear the air conditioner condensate drain line using a shop vac. It can help prevent water damage and improve the efficiency of your AC unit. Here’s how we did it below, along with a video showing a pretty cool product that will make it easier/faster:

Materials Needed:

Our Instructions:

  1. Turn Off the AC: Ensure that your air conditioning system is turned off before you begin any work. Most units you can unplug from a nearby electrical outlet.
  2. Locate the Drain Line: Find the condensate drain line on your air conditioning unit. This line usually comes out of the indoor unit and is a PVC pipe. It might be located near the drip pan or on the side of the unit. Our unit it left the ac unit and led to a water catch basin before leaving the house and exiting outside via 3/4″ PVC piping.
  3. Prepare the Shop Vac: Set up your shop vacuum for wet/dry use. Make sure it’s ready to handle liquids as you’ll be sucking nasty water out with it.
  4. Attach Shop Vac: Position the hose of the shop vacuum near the opening of the condensate drain line. You can use duct tape to create a seal around the connection, ensuring effective suction but the Wet Vacuum Drain Attachment from Amazon is even better as it fits several types of hoses and PVC pipe sizes so it should work at the different houses you live in over the years. Not very pricey and should work for whatever vacuum and PVC pipe size combo you have over the years at your different homes.
  5. Turn on the Shop Vac: Turn on the shop vacuum to its appropriate setting for wet/dry operation.
  6. Monitor Progress: Keep an eye on the vacuum and the drain line. You should see water and debris being sucked into the vacuum.
  7. Clean and Disinfect (Optional): Once the blockage or left over water is cleared, you can use a mixture of water and bleach to clean the drain line and prevent future algae or mold growth. Here in Arizona we don’t have high humidity so we skip on this step. For most placed though you will want to pour the mixture into the drain line and let it sit for a few minutes before flushing it out with water.
  8. Disconnect and Test: Turn off the shop vacuum and disconnect it from the drain line. Make sure the drain line is clear and water can flow freely.
  9. Turn On the AC: With the drain line clear, you can now turn your air conditioning system back on.

Regular maintenance of your air conditioner’s condensate drain line can prevent clogs and potential water damage. We recommend if you live in a humid place to do this 2 times a year especially if you encounter persistent clogs or issues.

Have any tips we forgot? Leave a comment below and we’ll make sure others see it!

how to clear ac condensate line