Allison Bailes | June 28, 2018

Video // HVAC & Mechanicals

How to Clean the Condensate Line for an Air Conditioner


Another use for your Shop-Vac

The birds are singing, the sun is shining, but the water is not dripping. Hi this is Allison Bailes and I am going to talk to you about air conditioning condensate lines today. 

What you're looking at (00:18) is the end of a condensate line for the air conditioner in our condo — and it was not draining. 

So, I hooked up the Shop-Vac to the end of the line to suck the gunk out of it and get it draining again. 

I put the hose on the pipe and taped it up (00:35), hoping that that would be good enough and keep me from having to go to the big box store and get some other stuff to make an airtight connection, but it wasn't.

So I had to go to the big box store. A little while later, I came back, hooked it all up, got a nice airtight connection this time (00:51) and it worked.

We sucked a lot of gunk out of that pipe.

You can see it right there, in the bucket (1:34). Here it is pouring out into the drain.

All of that stuff was in the condensate line, and our line was just barely draining, we could run the air conditioner a few minutes at a time before I had to turn it off.

I sucked it out and now it drains freely. 

This actually is not draining condensate right here (1:19), we flushed it out with a few pitchers full of water to get the remainder of the gunk out of there. You can see now that it is flowing through.

So, use your Shop-Vac to suck it out and see out blog for more information.


—Allison Bailes is a physicist, HVAC expert, blogger, and owner of Energy Vanguard in Decatur, GA


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That's  a great tip for cleaning out a condensate line! Thanks for taking the time to produce and post it here... seems so obvious now that I've seen someone else do it :-)

BTW I couldn't help but notice the large hole in the bricks where the small pipe comes out... looks like a welcome doorway to all manner of vermin.  Will that get sealed up to keep critters out and conditioned air in or does it just lead into an unimportant space that doesn't show in the photos/video?

Just curious...

Yeah, that goes into our nasty, unconditioned, moldy basement. It's owned by the association, not directly by us, but I'm on the board and hoping to get things improved down there.

My line is inside the wall and drains/NOT into the sink line in the guest bathroom.  I have put a wet/vac on the line in the bathroom - removed the U-joint first.  Nothing really came out.  Is there something I can pour into the line in the attic to open the line?

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