Air Conditioners

How to Clean Split AC Drain Pipe

A split air conditioner ensures we enjoy a soothing reprieve of cold air during the hot summer heat. It’s that one unit that you cannot afford to forget to give proper maintenance. You have to make sure it’s operating correctly, and that includes cleaning its AC drain pipe.

Cleaning the split AC drain pipe is as simple as cleaning a hose pipe. You need to ensure the condensate water flows outright. And that includes ensuring the drain line stays as clean as possible. You can use a shop dry/wet vacuum or brush it. Accessing the drain requires you to climb to the roof or the ceiling if your unit isn’t on the ground.

Cleaning your split AC drain pipe will make sure no water accumulates in the air conditioner. That will help prevent mold and algae growth in the unit, as well as structural water damage. Read more to know when to and how to clean the

How to Tell Your Split AC Drain Pipe Need Cleaning

When your split AC drain pipe gets dirty, a lot can go wrong, from bacteria growth inside the unit to leaks leading to water damage. What you didn’t know is, it’s pretty easy to tell when the drain pipe or line needs cleaning so that you can take the right action.

One of the obvious signs of your split AC drain pipe need cleaning is dirty water draining out the outlet. When you start to see brown water running out the drain, you got to clean it, or else things will get out of hand and clog it.

Another sign your split AC drain pipe needs cleaning is water not dropping out of the drain, which could be caused by clogging inside it. And don’t get me wrong, the issue might be caused by something else, but the main culprit is a clog.

When that happens, you will want to check it out immediately. The best place to start the check is from the drain outlet and work your way up, clearing everything blocking the drain.

And the best part is, when the AC’s pipe gets clogged, there is a safety switch triggered by the problem and stopping the AC from operating.

If you start getting some moldy smell inside the house, there is a problem with your air conditioner’s drainpipe, mostly a clog causing water to accumulate inside the unit.

If you notice some water damage around the air conditioner, on your floor near the indoor unit, or near the outdoor unit’s fan, there is a problem with the split AC drain pipe, especially a clog. And cleaning it is the best move.

How to Clean Your Split AC’s Drain Pipe – Step-By-Step

Cleaning a split AC drain pipe isn’t much of a hassle. It’s a straightforward process that you can do solely without help, but you might need it in some situations. But you don’t have to worry about it now since you will need to get your supplies together before starting.

What do you need?

  • Dry/Wet Vacuum Cleaner (or a Regular Vacuum)
  • Flexible Drain Brush
  • Small Hand Towel
  • Philips Screwdriver
  • Grip Tape
  • Bleach
  • Electrical Tape

Assuming your split drain runs from the interior unit and outdoors, the installation will have a pipe running through walls to the outside. You need to start from the drain end outside the house and work your way up.

Typically, you won’t be dealing with complicated plumbing here. But if your unit’s drain is underground, calling an Aircon expert would be the best move.

Check the wall where the indoor unit is installed– you’re checking for a pipe that is dropping some water. If you can see it, you can start the cleaning process.

Steps to Follow When Cleaning Split AC Drain Pipe

Step 1: Shut Off the AC

Safety comes first. So, run to your service panel and turn the AC breaker off. You have to make sure that no power runs through the unit while you work on it by shutting its circuit from the service panel.

Step 2: Clearing the Drain Line with a Wet/Dry Vac

The next easy step is to clear the drain line. Go outside to the drainpipe with your wet/dry vacuum and a damp hand towel. Wrap it to the pipe so that the vacuum hose can fit snuggly and air-tight.

If you look at the vacuum size and the drain pipe size, the two cannot fit together and be air-tight. So, the wet towel or tissue can help close the extra space and allow some suction.

Connect the vacuum hose and run the vacuum for a minute or two to suck anything that might be in the split AC drain pipe. It won’t hurt draining the water out of the line.

You should be able to see more brown water come out. If there were a clog, the vacuum would collect mucky water. But you’re not done yet.

You still need to repeat the process in the indoor unit, where the whole water condensation starts.

Step 3: Cleaning the Indoor AC Unit

With the power off, snap open the front panel. Check your user manual for how to remove it. Typically, it will have plastic snaps on the lower side that you press and open.

Remove the air filters. It’d be best to vacuum them before you can install them back.

Using a Philips screwdriver, remove the Philips screws, pull the plastic cover out, and place it aside.
The inside unit also has plastic snaps at the bottom that you press in to remove. Hinge the panel forward and up to release.

Every model has a different way of removing the inside panel – consult your user manual.

With the inside panel out of the way, you should be able to get access to the drainage pipe – it’s the huge pipe you find at the unit bottom.

Now that you have access to the drain line look for a seal joining the AC’s drain to the drain pipe. It’s usually sealed using grip tape as the insulation and electrical tape on the inside. Remove all these tapes.

Before you can separate the joints, get a bucket and collect the water that might leak from the pipe. When ready, divide the joints.

Get the drain brush and run it forth and back in half, connecting the air conditioner. Do the same to the other pipe that drains outside. Push the brush as far as it can go.

You can pour some bleach to loosen the dirt in the drain pipe and kill any bacteria that might have started growing in there.

Get the wet towel, wrap it over the drain joining the AC unit, and connect the vacuum hose. Run the vacuum for a minute or two to pull anything that was scrubbed off during the brushing. Do the same with the other half of the drain.

Join the drain pipes together and use electrical tape and grip to seal the joints as you found them.

Place the split AC drain pipe back in position and snap the internal panel back in place.

Place the outer panel back and screw in the Phillips screws you unscrewed while opening the unit. Slot in your cleaned filters and slot in the top cover.

How Often Should You Clean Your Split AC Drain Pipe

Once every month, but that will depend on the condition of your air conditioner and how dirty the air filters get. If your aircon filters collect more dirt than usual, the drain will have some dirt in it that will need cleaning. If your model is a bit old, you will need to do whole unit cleaning at least twice to improve its efficiency.

Clean Split AC Drain Pipe – Improve AC’s Efficiency

As you can see, cleaning a split AC drain pipe is a straightforward process with few supplies needed. All you need here is some essential DIY skills, and you’re good to go. And you know what, after you’re done, you’ll see an improvement in how efficient the air conditioner runs after cleaning the filters and the drain. Do this regularly and prevent clogs and health issues caused by dirty AC units.

About the author

Sharif Hasan

I am Sharif a data-driven marketer by profession and run The Spruce Air. I am very interested in keeping good-quality air inside of my home. Besides, I love to share my air-related knowledge through my website.

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