Broken AC

I received a call the other day froma home owner who said she was having Air Conditioning problems. I get these kind of calls all of the time during the summer. I have learned over the years to try to pre-qualify these calls before sending an A/C tech out. Typically an A/C company will charge $95.00 +/- just to show up at your doorstep. That’s a lot of money to spend to just have someone show up at your home!


Anyway, I asked the home owner what her Air Conditioner was doing. She told me it was running but it was not cooling.

These are the steps I walked her through to determine what the problem was:

  • I asked her to check her thermostat and make sure it was in the cool mode and that the fan was on auto.
    • She told me her thermostat was blank.
  • I then asked her to go look outside and see if the outside unit was running.
    • She went and looked and told me that it was not.
  • I asked her to go inside and open the door to her heater closet.
    • She did so.
  • I asked her to look at the unit and see if she could locate the drain lines and the refrigerant lines that came out of the unit.
    • She told me there were two white plastic lines, one large line that was covered with some kind if black stuff and one small copper line coming out of the front of her unit and going down through the plywood.
  • I asked her to describe to me what the 2 white plastic lines looked like.
    • She said one was coming out of the unit slightly lower than the other one. The one coming out lower had a T looking thing with a cap on the top of the T and the other end went through the plywood underneath the unit.
  • I asked her if the other white line went underneath the unit also.
    • She said no, it has this bowl looking cup on it and this twisty looking cap on it.

(Ok, at this point I had a good understanding of what her unit looked like and the way it was installed.)

  • I told her to take the cap off of the T looking white plastic pipe.
    • She squealed and said that a little bit of water came out if it when she removed the cap and that the T was full of water.


At this point I knew what was wrong with the unit.

I told her that her drain line was clogged.

clogged pipe

You see what happens is this: You have a coil inside your A/C unit, kind of like a radiator coil in your car. The big black line brings cold Freon into the coil. The fan blows over the coil and that is how you get your cold air. The coil sweats and the sweat runs down the coil into a pan. The lowest white drain line takes the sweat out of the unit, through the platform and outside of your house. This drain line will stop up from time to time causing the sweat to back up.

The other white line with the bowl looking cup on it is an overflow cutoff. When the main drain backs up it will cause the water to flow into this auxiliary drain and cause the overflow cutoff to cut off the outside unit. When the outside unit cuts off, the Freon does not flow, so there is no cold coming into the coil to make the air cool.

I told the lady she had two options:

1.  I can send an A/C tech out and he will charge a minimum of $95.00 to come out and unstop it.


2. She could unstop it herself.

There are a number of creative ways to unstop the line. Shop vacs, plastic lines, leaf blowers, coat hangers and many more can create solutions to unstop it. It’s amazing some of the ways you can come up with to save $95.00!

She chose to try it herself and said she will call me back if she can’t get it unstopped. I also told her that when she gets it unstopped she should pour a cup if bleach down the drain line to kill any mildew or sludge or whatever may be in there. I also told her she should pour a cup of bleach down the drain line once a month to help keep this from happening again.

bleach in ac pipe


I then asked her about her filter. When was the last time you changed your air filter?  She did not know. A filter should be changed once a month to once every three months depending on what kind of filter you have.

These items are both items that we would perform in our Home Maintenance Resource Preventative Maintenance Program that we would perform every six months if you are under our maintenance agreement. This episode turned out OK, however it could have been a nightmare to clean up and resolve. Let us help you in preventing these kinds if costly disasters in your home. Give us a call for a free consultation.

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