Updated On

November 9, 2023

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    Are you concerned that your air conditioner is not draining water properly? If so, we can help. 

    In this guide, you will find valuable information for addressing a clogged condensate drain and answers to questions like:

    • Can you prevent condensate drain clogs?
    • How often should you check your drain line to make sure it is functioning correctly?
    • What happens if water does not drain from your air conditioner?

    When your air conditioning system is not draining properly, condensation could be collecting somewhere else, which can cause mold and mildew. Water damage also affects sheetrock, water damage, mold, mildew, and sheetrock damage. So, the faster you address your air conditioner drain clog, the better.

    If you’re looking for local HVAC technicians, you can find them by entering your information into the following form:

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    When Does Your Air Conditioner Drain Water? 

    Water does not always drain from your air conditioner. There are times when your AC may drain more water than others. The factors that affect condensation include: 

    • Outdoor air temperature
    • Indoor air temperature
    • Air conditioner condition
    • Air filter maintenance

    However, air conditioners pull air through the air handler, where the evaporator coil cools it. During the cooling process, condensation forms as the system cools the air and removes moisture from it. 

    The condensation collects in a drip pan connected to the condensate drain line. Usually, the water drains outside your home. 

    When the drain pipe gets clogged, water collects in the A/C condensate pan. During the colder months this could lead to you fixing a frozen AC drain line. If you do not clear the blockage, the drip pan could overflow, causing significant water damage, mold, and mildew.

    What Should You Do When Your HVAC Is Not Draining?

    Anytime you suspect that your AC is not draining correctly, you must take action immediately. So, here are a few steps you can take to prevent any damage to your property. 

    Turn Your Air Conditioner Off

    Anytime you perform maintenance on your HVAC system, you need to turn it off. There are moving parts that can hurt you, or you can damage if you attempt to work on the AC when it is on. 

    Check The Drain Pan

    Under the evaporator, you will find your AC drip pan. First, you should check for standing water. If you do find water, the line is clogged. 

    When the drain pan is empty, but water is not draining, it could mean that the condensate drain pipe has come undone. 

    Clean Up Water

    If your air conditioner drip pan has already overflowed, you will need to dry the water as soon as possible. If possible, use a wet/dry vacuum to remove standing water and anything in the drain pan. 

    If water leaked into your insulation or caused mildew or sheetrock damage, it is best to call a professional company because mold and mildew can harm your health, and the longer you leave it, the worse it will get.

    Clear The Drain Pipe

    After you protect your home from water damage, you need to clean out the condensate line. Luckily, the process is relatively straightforward. 

    1. Make sure the drain pipe is connected to the condensate pan. 
    2. Locate the drain pipe outside your home, and place a bucket under it.
    3. Use a wire brush to remove any slime or debris at the end of the line.
    4. Next, locate the condensate drip pan access point. 
    5. Pour a mixture of one cup of bleach and a gallon of water into the drain pipe and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. 
    6. Check the bucket to see if the A/C condensate drain line is properly draining. 
    7. After the clogged drain clears, you should be able to pour water into the pipe, and it should immediately flow out. 

    If your air conditioner unit is still not draining correctly, you should contact an HVAC repair contractor.

    For more information on how to clear a clogged drain pipe, check out this video:

    Is There Anything You Can Do To Prevent A Condensate Drain Line Clog?

    Proper maintenance is the best way to prevent most air conditioner malfunctions. However, it is normal for drain pipes to clog from time to time as sediment, limescale, dust, and debris fall into the drip pan. 

    As the water moves through the pipe, the buildup can get stuck, causing the water not to drain. Resulting water damage can happen quickly and cost thousands to repair. 

    While you can’t prevent clogs completely, changing your filters regularly, maintaining your air conditioning unit semi-annually, and cleaning your condensate pipe and plan periodically makes a big difference. 

    During your routine maintenance appointment, the contractor will check the thermostat, refrigerant levels, check all PVC pipes to ensure proper connections, and perform any necessary maintenance.

    At the very least, having your system maintained by a licensed HVAC technician will help your system run more efficiently and reduce the amount of water your unit produces. It also gives the air conditioning service the ability to diagnose any minor unseen repairs, including clogged drains, before they become worse. 

    Could Your HVAC Not Draining Water Be A Sign Of Something More Serious?

    If your air conditioner is not draining, the most pressing concern for homeowners is that the drip pan will overflow, causing water damage. However, if your system is not producing the same amount of condensation that it usually does, that might be a sign that there is a bigger problem.

    The longer your air conditioner stays on before reaching the desired indoor air temperature, the more condensation the unit will produce. Some homeowners think their condensate drain has a clog, but after a repair technician visits their home, they learn the air conditioner is running inefficiently.

    If you have water leaking from your ceiling or suspect that something is causing your system to freeze or produce too much condensation, it is a good idea to contact an air conditioning service company

    Get HVAC Estimates In Just 30 Seconds
    Then connect with local experts to get the held you need.

    Final Advice When Your Air Conditioner Is Not Draining Water

    A/C unit problems are stressful. As a homeowner, you are responsible for paying for all necessary home repairs. 

    That means, if your AC breaks and you do not have the means to fix it, you will have to attempt a DIY repair that could end up costing more in the long run or live in a house with warm air until you can afford to take care of it. 

    Your air conditioning is one of the most costly home components. So, it affects the value of your home, and it is also vital to keep your house a relatively consistent temperature to prevent unsightly cracks in your ceilings and walls. 

    It also keeps wood elements like your doors, window sills, cabinets, molding, and baseboards from warping. So, you must have a functioning cooling system. 

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Alexis Bennett

    Alexis Bennett


    Alexis is a freelance writer with nearly a decade of experience covering the home services industry. She’s built considerable expertise in roofing, plumbing, and HVAC, as well as general construction and real estate matters. In her free time, Alexis enjoys coaching women’s golf. She lives in the Triad area of North Carolina.

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    photo of Andrew Dunn

    Andrew Dunn

    Senior Editor

    Andrew Dunn is a veteran journalist with more than 15 years of experience reporting and editing for local and national publications, including The Charlotte Observer and Business North Carolina magazine. His work has been recognized numerous times by the N.C. Press Association and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. He is also a former general contractor with experience with cabinetry, finish carpentry and general home improvement and repair. Andrew earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a certificate in business journalism. He lives in Charlotte, N.C.

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