Springtail Insects In The AC Closet: Clean Your Air Handler's Drain Pan And Drainage Line

If you find tiny, dark brown, black or gray springtail insects crawling or jumping around your AC closet, clean your cooling system's indoor air handler. The pests normally live outside the home but can enter indoors if there's moisture or organic material available for them to eat or drink. Although springtails are basically harmless to humans and pets, they can be nuisances if they infest your home. You can get rid of the bugs by removing the excess moisture in your air handler's drain pan and drainage line.

Why Should You Clean the Drain Pan and Drainage Line?

Your air handler is the large apparatus located inside the AC closet. It's comprises an evaporator coil, a drain line and a drainage pan. The parts can experience a number of issues that lead to excess moisture and condensation. 

The evaporator coil resembles a triangular-shaped metal cooler covered with sharp, elongated openings called fins. The coil cools down the hot air it receives from your air ducts and transfers it back into the home as cold, comfortable air. Sometimes, the evaporator coil clogs up with dust, dirt or ice that blocks the flow of air through its fins. Once the home warms up, the ice begins to melt and drip into the drainage pan located just below it.

The pan eventually overflows with water and attempts to empty itself through the PVC line connected to it. If the line harbors organic debris, such as algae, dust, mold, and other matter, it may not transport and empty the water outside the home or into a pumping system properly. The water eventually develops algae and mold, which attract springtail insects.

The insects will generally travel to any place in the house with moisture and feed off the organic matter growing in them. After a while, you may find the bugs in your bathroom, kitchen sink drains and other places in the home that contain or use water.

The best way to get rid of the bugs is to clean out your drain pan and flush out the drainage line.

How Do You Maintain the Drain Pan and Drainage Line?

Before you do anything to your drain pan and drainage line, turn off the cooling system's electrical power to avoid injuries. Next, use a flashlight to examine the closet's flooring. If you see large piles of springtail insects in the room, remove them with a vacuum, then discard the bag outside the house in the trash can. Also, mop up any excess moisture on the flooring, then cover the floor with a large plastic tarp. 

Also, purchase a 32-ounce bottle of household vinegar to break up and remove the algae and mold from inside the drainage line. Avoid using bleach and other chemicals that emit harmful gases. Vinegar is a safer alternative because it doesn't give off dangerous smells. 

Now, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the drain pan from below the evaporator coil. 
  2. Take the pan outside the home and wash it out with a water hose.
  3. Saturate a rag with vinegar, then wipe out the pan. Allow the pan to dry while you work on the drainage line.
  4. Unscrew or pull the cap from the small emergency access line attached to the top of the drainage line.
  5. Pour the rest of the vinegar into the opening, then wait at least 15 to 20 minutes for it to break through the gunk. The time may vary, so use your best judgment.
  6. Fill the empty vinegar bottle with warm or cool water, then pour it into the emergency opening to complete the flushing. 
  7. Recap the drainage line, replace the drain pan and return power to the AC system.

Remove the wet tarp, dry the flooring thoroughly and wait one to two weeks to see if the bugs disappear. Again, the time may vary, so monitor your home carefully.

If they don't leave after the time mentioned above, contact an HVAC service for help.