When you run your air conditioner, you're doing more than just cooling the air inside your home. Air conditioners also act as dehumidifiers, removing moisture from the air as they cool it. At least, that's what happens when they're working properly – but if you've noticed rising moisture in your home, it's time to check your air conditioner and make sure it's draining properly.
Is High Humidity A Serious Problem?
High humidity in the home is more than just a comfort issue. It can spur mold growth as well as cause condensation and water damage. When it comes from the air conditioner, there's an additional problem: the water your air conditioner pulls out of the air is supposed to be drained outside. If it sits in the air conditioner rather than making it through the drain, the air conditioner itself can become a home for mold, and mold spores can end up spreading throughout your home.
What Can You Do?
The first thing to check is your air conditioner's drain lines. A clogged or slow drain line can lead to water buildup in the drain pan; that water evaporates into the air, raising indoor humidity.
Before working on your air conditioner, shut it down and, if it's a room unit, unplug it from the wall. The drain line is usually near the bottom of your air conditioner, sometimes behind an access panel; if you have trouble locating it, your owner's manual should have a diagram of the parts of your air conditioner.
The drain line will be connected to a drain pan, and the first step is to clean this – detergent and water works fine. If you see mold growth, you can use bleach instead of detergent.
The drain line itself will have an access pipe. This will look like a piece of vertical piping with a lid on top and a connection to the drain line at the bottom. This access pipe can be used to flush out the drain line. All you need to do is pour a mixture of equal parts bleach and water into the line. After half an hour, do a second pour of plain water to rinse it out.
When Should You Call A Professional?
If you don't feel confident cleaning your drain lines and pan yourself, you can certainly hire a contractor to do this – you can be sure it will be thoroughly cleaned and inspected this way. If you do the cleaning yourself, however, you'll want to keep an eye on the drain pan; check it every few days after the cleaning to make sure water isn't building up in it.
If water builds up in the drain pan even though you've flushed out the drain line or mold recurs there, you should have your unit inspected by a professional, like those at Nicholas Heating & Cooling. You may have a clog that's too serious for your bleach mixture to get rid of or there may be other damage to the drain line. Whatever the issue, a thorough inspection is the next step to getting your air conditioner back in working order.