How to get the musty smell out of a portable air conditioner

Your drain line or drain pan, air filters, and evaporator coils need to be thoroughly cleaned to avoid musty smells coming from your portable air conditioner.

Having an air conditioner to cool or warm your spaces can make your living environment comfortable when the heat of summer or the cold of winter can be nearly unbearable.

Portable air conditioners are a great choice for people who want to be able to move the unit with them to different spaces in their home.

Unfortunately, cleaning these units can be quite demanding as they do often operate with water, which makes it necessary to clean them.

Musty smells and portable air conditioners

Since portable air conditioners get rid of moisture in the air, they tend to accumulate a lot of water, some units even need a bit of water to function well.

Anybody knows that where water and moisture accumulates for a long time, mould and mildew develop, as well as other unpleasant complications like bad smells.

Portable air conditioners are prone to developing musty smells and this can be the result of growth of mould and mildew, and components of the unit not being cleaned for long periods of time.

How to get the musty smell out of a portable air conditioner

When water accumulates in the unit, it must be drained either manually, or it will automatically vent as vapour from the exhaust hose outside.

Since moisture is a key functionality element of a portable air conditioner, the inside of the unit can easily become a breeding ground for moisture build-up complications.

If you do not make sure to drain your portable unit manually (if your unit requires this), when the drain pan is full, or ensure it is venting as it should, you may experience issues like bad odours coming from the inside of the unit.

The drain pan and condensate drain line need to be cleaned with soapy water and a drain line brush, which you can find on Amazon.

Other issues such as air filters and evaporator coils not being cleaned properly can also lead to musty smells. To get rid of the musty smell from your portable air conditioner, you need to inspect and clean your filter and evaporator coils thoroughly.

A filter only needs to be dusted, but if it is heavily soiled, it should be rinsed with water until all dirt is removed.

Evaporator coils can be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner to suck up debris on the surface, and tougher grime can be handled by spraying it with a coil cleaner foaming solution which you can find on Amazon.

Cleaning tools/solutions Description Amazon Price
Desin flexible drain brush

Buy it on Amazon 
·   Dual-end brush

·   Rotating bristles and stainless-steel material

·   Flexible brush that bends

·   Suitable for drain-cleaning

Nu-Calgon Evap foam coil cleaner

·   Liquefy dirt, grease oil, and other residue

·   Contains corrosion inhibitors, it is safe on metals and other materials

·   Self-rinsing foam

·   Cleans and deodorises with a pleasant lemon scent

KOONIE Cordless Air Duster

Buy it on Amazon
·  Lightweight (weighs only 405g)

·  Easy to re-charge via USB cable

·  Good battery life

·  Environmentally friendly compared to cans


How to avoid musty and unpleasant odours developing in your unit

How you care for your portable air conditioner makes all the difference in how your unit functions. Air conditioners are sensitive appliances that have components in them that need extra care to work well.

Proper routine maintenance of your air conditioner helps you avoid musty smells from developing as bacteria, mould, and mildew will not have a place to thrive and cause problems if you clean your unit regularly.

Cleaning the important components of your unit and monitoring the moisture build-up inside is crucial.

Other possible causes of odour from your unit

A refrigerant leak can be the cause of a gas-like smell, while a sweeter kind of smell can be from other liquids leaking in the unit, such as antifreeze.

A refrigerant leak can be harmful and must be attended to by a professional. Sometimes, if a room is too small for the portable air conditioner, it can cause murky, mouldy smells, as the unit may struggle to dehumidify the space.

The importance of a clean condensate line

The condensate drain line is one of the most moisture-filled parts of the unit, so mould and algae can easily grow in it. That combination can make for musty and other unpleasant odours.

Mould and algae can stick to the inner surfaces of the drain line and will need water pressure from a faucet or garden hose to be dislodged from the drain line.

If grime has built up, a drain line brush will come in handy, as it can thoroughly scrub off the build-up better than water pressure alone.

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