How To Drain Portable AC

Portable air conditioners are ideal for the warm and summer seasons as they keep your home cool and fresh. But this could not be the case if the internal water tank of your portable AC unit is full, making your AC automatically shut off and not turn back on.

Do Portable AC Units Have to be Drained?

Your portable air conditioner works by taking water out of the air in your room. This creates a condensation effect around the portable AC, so water will build up and leak out of the unit if you do not drain it.

However, whether or not you manually drain your portable air conditioner will depend on the type of model of your AC. Most units these days are partially evaporative and have a condensation exhaust system.

Other units feature a drain plug attached to a drain hose that drains into a drain pan.

How Often do you need to Drain your Portable AC Unit

This will depend on a few factors, but newer portable AC units do not necessarily need to be drained. The humidity levels will also determine how often you will drain the water collected in your unit.

If you stay in an area with extremely humid conditions, you will need to drain your unit every 8 hours. But in areas with low humidity levels, you will rarely need to drain your portable air conditioning.

Why your Portable AC Fills with Water Fast

If your portable air conditioner water levels reach maximum capacity as quickly as possible, then this is a sign that there is something wrong with your unit.

So, why is your portable air conditioner filling water quickly?

High Humidity

As we’ve mentioned above, extreme humidity levels will surely cause the storage tank of your portable AC unit to fill up. High humid levels will cause your AC unit to struggle to eliminate the excess humidity.

Blocked Drain Hose and Water Tank

Some portable air conditioners will force you to drain the water tank manually. But, at times, the internal tank may not drain any water if the indicator light shows a full tank. This is a problem with a clogged water tank that is causing your water tank to fill up too quickly.

Dirty Air Filters

Clean air filters will help air flow freely in the AC unit, and this air is cooled as the excess moisture is condensed and removed from the air. But when the air filters are dirty, air will not flow freely, and this kind of obstruction can mean that the air gets over frozen. This causes the portable AC unit to fill up with water.

Faulty Condensate Pump

In most cases, an HVAC technician can easily install a condensate pump to collect water from the air conditioning unit. But at times, a blocked drainage drain hose from the condensate pump could be the problem causing your portable air conditioner to fill up with water.

First Time Using an AC in a Room

If it is your first time using your portable air conditioner in your room, ensure your AC unit’s water tank will fully up as quickly as possible. This necessarily does not mean there is any problem with your air conditioner.

When used in a new room, your portable air conditioner draws a lot of moisture from the atmosphere, ceilings, and floors, causing it to fill up pretty fast.

What Happens if you do not Drain your Portable AC?

If you do not drain water from your portable air conditioner, the following can happen;

Your portable AC will shut off- This is very common and happens to almost all portable air conditioners. Your unit will automatically shut off and will not turn back on. Most of these units have an in-built float switch designed to turn off the AC unit if the internal water reservoir is filled with water.

So when more water is collected, causing a full tank, your unit will alarm you of its status to alert you that water tank is full.

The condensate tank will overflow- Suppose your float switch is faulty and is not working, and the water in the tank is full, then you can expect water overflowing, causing water damage to your house.

Mold will grow in your portable air conditioner- A dumpy area is a good habitat for the growth of mold and mildew, especially if you do not empty it as often as you should. Water left in the tank creates a moist environment suitable for mold growth.

How to Drain Portable AC

The float switch plays a huge role in shutting down your portable air conditioner when water is full in the condensate tank.

Once you are alarmed that your internal water reservoir is full, the first thing you need to do is unplug and power off your unit; then, you can now try to drain the water collected.

You can drain water from your portable air conditioner by;

1. Draining into a Pan

Take the pan towards the back of your AC system where the drainage hub is located and place the pan under the hub and unplug the drain plug. Ensure you are well prepared to sop up any spilled water on your floor, as water will immediately start to flow out once you unplug the drain plug.

Once all the water has been drained, plug back in the drain plug and reconnect the power to your AC system.

2. Using a Drain Hose

You can opt to use a drain hose to connect to your unit’s drain plug. You can always leave the drain hose connected to the air conditioner if it happens to be positioned at a downward angle to drain any water collected.

To prevent any leakages, you need to attach the drain hose with a tight rubber stopper. But be warned that this feature may only apply to a specific AC model, so be sure to consult the manual first.

Luckily, you can always purchase a drain hose that fits your specific model, or you can always buy adapters to complete the fit.

3. Using a Condensate Pump

The condensate pump is the most convenient alternative if you want to drain water from your portable air conditioner. This is because it will automatically drain the water once it has reached a certain level.

You can always leave the condensate pump connected to your portable air conditioner, and it does not have to be positioned to any certain angle. The reason behind this is that the condensate pump will automatically turn on and push the water outside of the portable air conditioner.

In most cases, a condensate pump will have two drain hoses. One is connected to the air conditioning system, and the other is connected to the condensate pump leaving the other end open to drain water outside the unit.

4. Evaporation Through The Air Exhaust Hose

Your portable air conditioner will evaporate the condensation it collects and is ejected from the air conditioner to the outside via an exhaust hose. But first, the condensate tank will have to collect any extra moisture that it cannot immediately evaporate.

Where Does The Water Go In A Portable AC?

Portable air conditioners produce condensation, so you can drain the water you collect through the abovementioned methods. Or, you can store the water in the internal water reservoir as it waits to be drained out.

Do not expect water to spill onto your floor, as your portable air conditioner will automatically shut off once the tank is full.

How Long can you Run a Portable AC Continuously?

As long as you regularly clean your air filters, ensure the condensate pup is in good condition, and empty the condensate tank occasionally, you can run your AC unit as much as possible.

But this does not mean you leave your portable air conditioner running come day, come night just because you do the above. It is always essential to give your portable air conditioner periodic breaks. Why so? Giving your portable AC system periodic intervals will allow it to cool down and prevent its parts from wearing out as quickly as possible.

How Long does it Take to Drain a Portable Air Conditioner?

There is no specific time for this, but it only takes a few minutes to drain water from your portable air conditioning system. You don’t have to wait for hours for all the water to be drained out of the air conditioning system; a few minutes and your AC is set to go.

What Will Cause Your Portable Air Conditioner To Start Leaking?

If you notice any leaks coming out of your portable air conditioner, then be sure there is a problem somewhere causing the leak. Some of the problems to look out for include;

1. Cracked Drain Pan or Condensate Tank

Since water collected is stored in the condensate tank by the air conditioner, any crack in the condensate tank will automatically make your AC unit start leaking. Also, any damage to the drain pan will force the system to leak.

To find out whether the condensate tank is cracked, you need to:

  • Shut off the portable air conditioner and unplug it from the power source.
  • Orient the air conditioner so that the drain spout hangs over the edge of the surface.
  • Put a large container under the drain spout.
  • Remove the drain spout cap and allow the water to drain out, and replace the drain cap once the water is drained

Once the condensate tank is empty, plug in the air conditioner, turn it on, and set it to cool mode. As the system runs, it will dehumidify the air, and condensate will collect in the tank. If you notice any water leaking from the tank, be sure the condensate tank is cracked.

2. Faulty Float Switch

As mentioned before, the purpose of the float switch is to automatically shut off your portable air conditioner whenever the condensate tank is full of water.

If the float switch is broken or faulty, it will not prevent your air conditioner from working hence leaking water.

A faulty or broken float switch will cause your portable air conditioner to continue running with no alarm whatsoever. A faulty float switch will force you to;

  • Always keep an eye on the condensate level and empty the condensate tank as often as possible.
  • Force you to replace your portable air conditioner with a new one
  • Install a drain hose to help you remove water from the portable air conditioner continuously.

Wrapping Up

Seeing your portable air conditioner producing water is a good sign and so maintaining your system is quite important. It would help if you drained it as frequently as possible to ensure no water builds up in the system.