Have you noticed a white, gummy, jelly-like substance in your air conditioner drain pan this summer? Don’t be alarmed, you are not the only one. This summer in particular our technicians are addressing homeowner’s concerns of a white slime appearing in their AC drain pans which cause clogged ac drain line problems. Have you had to unclog ac drain line pipes recently, too?
It’s Important To Note – This Is An Industry Wide Problem
It does not matter what brand of air conditioning system you have. Our technicians have come across the white slime problem in all newer air conditioning systems. The newer air conditioning systems are highly efficient at removing humidity from your home and have larger aluminum coils instead of the copper coils found in older systems. We have customers with Carrier, Lennox, Rheem, Bryant, Goodman etc. AC systems and all air conditioning systems have had a customer or two that developed a white slime issue in the drain pans and drain lines.
Four Seasons Air has noticed one common factor in customers that have white slime build up in their drain pans and drain lines – their thermostats are set at 76 degrees or below. Why is this an important factor?
When you keep your thermostat set at 76 or below your air conditioning system runs almost constantly. When your air conditioning systems runs constantly, your air handler coil and drain pan do not have a chance to dry out in between cycles. This causes your drain pan to constantly be wet creating a perfect environment for white slime to thrive in this cool, wet, dark environment.
Air handlers are constantly running especially in the summer months, air blows across the evaporator coil, moisture condenses and then drips into the drain pan. Ideally the moisture travels from the drip pan to the drain line and outside of your home. Remembering where white slime prefers to live? Cool, wet, dark environments? Your drain pan and drain line are perfect places for white slime to incubate. Add some dust and dirt that accumulate on the coil, and you have a feast for the microorganism growth!
What This White Slime Is In Your AC Drain Pan
White slime has been found in not only the drain pan, but in drain lines and condensate pumps. White slime thrives in cool, wet, dark environments; hence your air handler is white slime’s preferred place to take up residence! “The slime that technicians find in an HVAC system, for example, is typically a coating that protects the bacteria colony growing inside of it, according to Donald Prather, technical services manager, ACCA. He also explained that this bacterium likes condensate pans and trays not only because of the moisture, but also because of the dust particles that slip through the filter that are a good food supply.” Source: White Slime Is No Match for an Educated HVAC Technician, The News, Angela D. Harris
We don’t know why some homes are affected while others are not. It could be several factors.
What We Do Know That Can Affect AC White Slime Build Up
This summer has been extremely hot and humid in Southwest Florida which has caused our systems to run constantly. As noted, this is especially true if you keep your thermostat set at 76 degrees or lower.
Ideally, air conditioners will cool your home to 20 degrees below what the temperature is outside.
For example, if it is 98 degrees outside, your air conditioner will efficiently cool your home to 78 degrees. If you have your thermostat set to 76 or lower, your system will almost constantly run trying to satisfy your thermostat setting of 76. The constant running of your air conditioning system will keep your drain pan and coil wet as explained earlier, creating a perfect environment for white slime to thrive.
With the newer, more efficient systems that have been on the market the past several years they have larger coils and pull twice the amount of water than older systems.
With longer run times, the coils for the most part are always wet, and the drain pans always have water in them.
How Can White Slime Be Prevented?
If you regularly clean your drain pan and drain line you probably don’t have a white slime issue. Without regular AC maintenance on your drain lines you could be looking at having an AC repair unexpected expense, especially in summer when our HVAC systems run constantly. Four Seasons always recommends changing your filters regularly and in between regularly scheduled maintenance make sure to care for your drain lines as described below.
If Your AC Drain Line Is Clogged
You can try to vacuum the drain line out with a wet/dry vac and run a 50/50 solution of bleach and water through the drain line to clean it out. Make sure to run plenty of water through to rinse out all the bleach solution from the drain line or you may be able to smell a bleach odor in your home. If you have white slime growth in your drain pan, you will also need to clean out your drain pan to get rid of the white slime growth and kill the bacteria. You can find more information on HVAC maintenance on our blog by clicking here.
Helping To Prevent White Slime Build Up In Your Air Conditioner Drain Pan
Try keeping your thermostat setting no more than 20 degrees below the outside temperature, especially in summer. This will also help save money on your energy bill. If this seems warm to you use your ceiling fans in your home to help move the cooled air in the room you are in, make sure the fan is moving in a clockwise direction. Remember to turn fans off in rooms not being used to save even more money on your power bill!
Keep your air conditioning system well maintained, especially in summer. In between regularly scheduled maintenances, make sure to run the 50/50 bleach solution through your drain line and change your filters regularly. If you don’t know how to run the 50/50 bleach solution through your drain line, the next time your technician is at your home, ask him to show you how. Remember that Four Seasons Air has been serving Venice, Port Charlotte, Venice and most of SW Florida for over 36 years! Call us today and schedule your AC maintenance before summer.
Did you know Four Seasons Air is a Mitsubishi Diamond Dealer? Ductless Mini Split Systems are efficient, economical and turn your "unusable space" into cool comfort year round!
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