How to Drain Water From an Air Conditioner

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Air conditioners use a series of components to turn gas into a liquid, which runs through coils. These coils are fanned, forcing cool air into a set of duct work, cooling the house. The liquid is converted back to a gas by compression, then returned to a liquid form. This cycle continues on and on. But the cycle also causes heat and condensation. Water drips into a pan and out through a drain. Eventually, water and grime build up and need to be drained manually.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Garden hose
  • Bleach

Draining Central Air Conditioners

  • Turn off the air conditioner, then switch off the breaker powering the unit to ensure no electrical current is flowing to the appliance.

  • Remove the drain or condensate pan from under the main unit by unfastening the retaining screws with a screwdriver. Pull the drain pan out and pour the water out onto the ground.

  • Replace the drain plan under the main unit and secure in place with a screwdriver.

  • Go to the outside of the house. Locate the air conditioner drain pipe -- typically a PVC pipe running from the attic space down along an exterior wall near the garage.

  • Hold a garden hose to the end of the AC drain pipe and turn the water on its fullest open volume, shooting water up into the pipe for at least 30 seconds to backwash it, then pull the hose away. Let debris drain from the pipe, then repeat until no debris drains out.

  • Go up to the main air conditioning unit and find the connection point of the drain pipe. Remove the cap from the pipe by hand, twisting it up and off. Pour bleach into the pipe to clean it out.

  • Switch the breaker back on, then turn the air conditioning unit back on.

Draining Wall Units

  • Turn the wall unit off and unplug it from the electrical outlet.

  • Go to the outside of the house and remove the unit's housing cover with a screwdriver to expose the components and drip pan.

  • Pull the drip pan out and turn it upside down, emptying it of water. Because these units do not generally have drain lines, you'll need to periodically drain the condensate pan.

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References

  • "Air Conditioning & Heat Pumps"; Carson Dunlop; 2003
  • "Basic Refrigeration and Air Conditioning"; Ananthanarayanan, McGraw-Hill Education; 2005
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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