A/C Maintenence

For years, technicians have told me to pour bleach down my a/c condensation line once or twice a year to prevent bugs and other things from clogging it. Just had an annual preventive maintenence check and the guy told me that vinegar was the best way to go while bleach was bad. Any one have insight into this?
Thanks
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I always understood it didn't matter as long as it killed the algae that grows in it and allows it to be flushed out. You can also buy tablets to throw in the drain pan and it keeps it clear.

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Jake wrote:

White vinegar is pretty good stuff. If you sprinkle baking soda down a drain & then pure white vinegar down it, it foams violently & is supposed to unstop them. I would then use boiling water to flush it. I plan to try it on my kitchen sink drain lines. - udarrell
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Does this make sense? You're putting the acidic vinegar with an acid neutralizer. Makes a nice show but the net result is neutral (unless there is a lot more vinegar than the sodium bicarbonate can zero out. For a ha-ha you can always call the misses and "Look honey. The sink has rabies!"

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Jake wrote:

Not really...what did he say was "bad" about bleach vis a vis vinegar? Vinegar is a mild acid, bleach is essentially a solution providing free chlorine as an oxidant.
IMO, bleach is far more effective in the killing of the mold, etc., that tends to grow in condensate drain lines although vinegar will certainly help. Assuming flush the line after treatment (which I would do with either) don't see any thing that should be a real problem w/ using ordinary household bleach.
Only real thing I can think of is bleach might be a little more likely to kill any vegetation at the drain outlet, but that would be easily taken care of by a collection container. I've never seen a drain line that wasn't Tyvek or similar flex tubing or PVC for longer, rigid runs and either are certainly essentially immune to either.
I'd want to know what, sepecifically, he was "protecting" against. Either way, to me it's pretty much a "who cares" kinda' thing unless there were some particular situation.
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<snip>
It's all about the aluminum.
http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/chem03/chem03218.htm
-zero
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zero wrote:

...
...
OK, but I thought we were talking of the drain line. I don't use bleach in a pan, but do at the trap entrance to the line on occasion. It does a good job there w/ the algae, etc.
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dpb wrote:

I've never seen an aluminum drip pan -- generally they're galvanized, no?
I doubt acetic acid is good with zinc.
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Bleach is usually Sodium HypoChlorite NaClO. I'm not sure what good, if any, that would do other then maybe kill living bugs, leaving dead bugs behind and creating a health hazard if you don't flush it good, or even if you do flush it good. Vinegar from the jug is so dilute I don't think it would do much, either, because it doesn't stay in contact with any alkaline material long enough to do much. If you want to remove mineral deposits, you have to soak it in vinegar for quite a while. I would just flush the line out with water under low pressure - garden hose, etc. Anyone else?

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Ook writes:

All the suggestions so far are speculations that don't work, but get repeated endlessly.
The only thing that works is mechanical clearing. Most effective is to flush at the top end with pressure from air or water. Less effective but usually adequate is a good vacuum at the bottom end.
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Bleach wont harm plastic pipe and will kill mold growth from obstructing the drain, vinegar I dought does anything.
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m Ransley wrote:

But do you doubt it?
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I personally think bleach is more effective in killng the algea, but we also have customers who swear by vinegar. I have see lots of houses with white spots on the carpet in front of the a/c closet, which makes it obvious they are using bleach, so be careful with the bleach. Also, we recommend using whichever you choose monthly. Put about a cup in when you change/check/clean the filter-- you are aleady right there at the unit, takes only a few more seconds. Neither bleach or vinegar will guarantee the line will not stop up, nor will it clear a blockage, but for the few cents either costs, it is a good idea anyway. Larry
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I tried household bleach and that did not unclog my drain line. Compressed air worked somewhat, but when I used a garden hose and flushed it with hot water it ran freely. I can understand how metal rust bits or other debris can clog a drain line but I can't see how algae or bugs can get in there, since the drain in my house is inside the walls and feeds directly into a drain.
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Phisherman, bleach will not usually unclog a line-- just help it to stay clear. Algae can and will grow in the line, as well as what grows in the drain pan and then goes into the line. It especially grows in any horizontal parts of the piping. The possibility of bugs is in the lines that terminate outside-- not likely to get into one that goes into a sewer. A lot of the problems we have with drain lines here is with the 3/4 black poly pipe. The insert fittings used with it are about 1/2" ID and act as a dam which totally stop up to the point that you cannot even blow them out. You have to take the pipe apart and clean everything. On the ones where the pipe goes down into the walls all you can do is try to flush and blow it out as well as possible. Luckily, most of the systems with black poly are upflow units in single story houses where the pipe goes into the slab under the unit. I usually take it apart right at the slab (usually it comes out of the slab at an angle and has no fittings inside the slab itself) and rod it out with a piece of romex, and take the rest of it outside and flush it out with the garden hose as well as rod it out, put it all back together and flush it out several more times. Usually no more problems for quite a while. Larry
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On Sun, 3 Sep 2006 14:29:17 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (lp13-30) wrote:

<snip>
Thanks, one of my A/C drain lines originates in the attic and flows down three stories, inside walls, and into a down spout. It clogged up three times this summer. It has been running since I gave it a hot-water flush. I plan to get a long plumber snake, small enough to fit into the drain, for the next clog event. I wish the drain pipes were larger in diameter.
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One more thing re: algae and algaecides that I read, I think in an old post here: someone was able to stand back and see the forest for the trees and figured out that algae needs sunlight to grow, so there isn't algae inside of pipes. Nevermind... I wanted to confirm this, which I believed to be true, too, so I did a quick google and found that that's not always true. Turns out a substance called, well, I'll just copy-and-paste it here:
"The explanation focuses on a new word: biofilm. Biofilm is a complex of living organisms and both organic and inorganic matter that establishes a presence on the inner surfaces of irrigation lines. The organisms live comfortably in this environment, and when fertilizers rich in nutrients are injected into the lines, suddenly life goes from being comfortable to downright luxurious.
Algae and biofilm are able to form a symbiotic relationship -- what one needs, the other provides. It's a relationship that keeps feeding itself, which is a major point in understanding why algae control is so difficult. Biofilm is able to provide algae with enough nutrients to substitute for their need of light to create such nutrients. This allows algae to flourish in irrigation lines, even 5 feet underground where it's dark."
And here's the url it's from: http://www.greenbeam.com/features/tour061005.stm It's main focus is a product made of chlorine dioxide which has been effective as an algaecide.Now, our A/C lines aren't rich in nutrients, so we shouldn't have near the problem as those with irrigation lines. But, I guess algae can grow in our pipes, an algaecide therefore would be effective (if that's the cause of a blockage), but most algaecides seem to be of limited effectiveness.
Boy, was that a waste of everyone's times! :)
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Phisherman wrote:

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The ends are open to the atmosphere and there are a "virtual plethora" of airborne molds, bacteria, algae spores, etc., that can get carried into the lines by the water. Once anything gets a start, it multiplies and as someone else noted, there are many of these microrganisms that don't need direct sunlight to flourish.
I've always had pretty good luck w/ the bleach in cleaning out the condensate line but try to use it frequently enough that it isn't ever actually fully clogged up first--in that case I can certainly see it might not be effective. But a preventive maintenance scheduled flush periodically will, I expect, save you some trouble.
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