When to drain a portable air conditioner

You need to maintain and drain your portable air conditioner when it fills up, to ensure that it cools your space efficiently.

Portable air conditioners differ from standard home cooling systems in that they do not require rigorous and complicated installation for which structural changes need to be made to a home’s walls or ductwork.

However, portable air conditioners can be a lot of work when it comes to how they need to be maintained to keep performing well and cooling efficiently.

The need to regularly drain the units of the water condensation that can accumulate inside the water drain pans inside can also amount to frequent manual work.

Draining portable air conditioners

Portable air conditioners tend to be smaller in size, which makes them prone to accumulating condensation moisture inside at quite a rapid pace.

Unlike other air conditioners that can simply drip or disperse moisture outside, portable units collect all the moisture they extract from the humidity in the room and accumulate it in the drain pan.

Please keep in mind though, that you should always remain on the safe side and prevent any leaking from your portable air conditioner by placing a container, like this one, under the unit’s drain plugs.

This fluid is then manually drained when the tank fills up. Other units such as window air conditioners simply drain their condensate outside through the drip hole, and there is not much that needs to be done manually.

When to drain a portable air conditioner

When water from the condensation process accumulates inside a portable air conditioner, the unit needs to be drained. Some units even stop working and turn off automatically when they need to be drained.

In these cases, the only way to get the unit to start working again is to manually drain your unit before attempting to switch it on again.

One way of knowing when your unit needs to be drained is by observing the weather conditions and how humid it is in the space the unit is cooling.

The more humid it is, the more frequently you need to drain the unit as the air conditioner extracts as much moisture from the air as it can.

So, if you feel that a room is more humid than usual, you should be aware of the portable air conditioner’s water levels. This will help prevent accidents such as leaks.

Some portable units have bucketless, self-evaporating operation, whereby the unit self-evaporates most of the moisture extracted that is in the unit.

The Black+Decker 10 000 BTU portable air conditioner has this function, but buyers should not be mistaken and think that this function means the unit does not need to be drained.

The unit still needs to be drained when the moisture tank fills up. You can drain the unit by opening the drain plug and allowing the water to drain out from the back.

What happens when a unit is not drained?

Never leave a unit full of water, as it can easily overflow both inside the machine as well as out onto the floor surfaces of the room it is in.

When too much water has accumulated inside a portable air conditioner, water-related bacterial and fungal growths, such as mould and mildew, can start developing inside the unit. This bacteria often leads to bad smells.

A unit that leaks onto your floor surfaces can also cause damage, depending on the type of floors you have. Wooden floors will suffer the most damage as wood coming into contact with water can result in decay, bad odours, and mould or mildew growth.

How often does a portable unit need to be drained?

Since the weather conditions and factors such as the humidity levels in the air where a portable unit is working contribute to how frequently the air conditioner needs to be drained, there are time periods that can be determined by the climate of your location.

Climate conditions Frequency of draining
Humid climates Every 8 hours (depending on the AC)
Moderate climates Once every two to four weeks
Drier climates Rarely

Using a condensate pump can save you from draining a portable AC yourself

If you want to avoid draining a portable air conditioner yourself, another option you can try is using a condensate pump.

With this method, you do not need to worry about when you need to drain your air conditioner, because a condensate pump will push the water out of the air conditioner via the drain plugs, and expel it outside. It basically does the job for you.

The pump can be left connected to the unit for the sake of convenience as it will automatically start draining the unit once water has reached a certain level in the draining pan.

Leave a Comment