3 Ways To Clear Condensate Backups In Your Central Air Conditioner

A central air conditioner system utilizes chemical refrigerant that travels through different coils in the system that change the refrigerant from gas to liquid and then back again. The transitions produce moisture or condensate that then needs to drain out of the unit to prevent water damage or flooding. There are a few ways the condensate can leave your unit, and problems along the exit route can start to cause dripping or leaking water.

Here are some ways that you can clear condensate backups occurring in your central air conditioner. If you don't have any HVAC experience, you might want to call in an air conditioning repair technician to perform the maintenance.

Condensate Line

The condensate line is a piece of pipe that runs from your interior air handler, where the condensate-producing evaporator coils are located, to the outside of your home. The end of the pipe simply hangs over the ground and allows water to drip out as needed. Condensate lines are present in systems that don't have easy access to a drain inside. The water makes its way outside due either to gravity or the presence of a condensate pump inside the air handler.

The pipe can become clogged along the way due to debris or mineral buildup. You can try to clean out the pipe the same way you would unclog a sink pipe: use a commercial drain cleaner then follow up with a snake or auger if necessary. Don't have or want to use a snake or auger? Call in an air conditioning repair technician for help.

Condensate Pump

Condensate pump can play a role in getting the water out of the air handler and out through either a drain line or straight down into a drainpipe near the unit. The latter is more common when the air conditioning system is located in a basement.

If you have standing water in the bottom of your air handler, there's likely a mechanical problem with the condensate pump. Call in a repair technician, as the condensate pump will most likely need to be replaced. Try not to run the unit until the pump is replaced so that the air handler doesn't leak out onto your surrounding floor.


Does the condensate pump seem to be pumping properly but you still have standing water in the bottom of the air handler? If the drainpipe is clogged, the pump will have nowhere to push the water, and the backlog can start.

As with the outside drain line, the drainpipe can be unclogged using commercial cleaners or a snake. But you might want to leave this cleaning attempt to a professional due to the fact that this drainpipe is more closely connected to the sewage system. Sewer gases can rise through the pipe while you're working, which can prove a health hazard if you don't take proper precautions.

For more information, contact Jerry Boschert Heating & Cooling or a similar company.