How Often Should I Drain My Portable Air Conditioner? [8 Hours]

If you live in a warm climate where you need a portable air conditioning unit, knowing the basic operation and maintenance to care for it will ensure that it continues to work correctly

The local humidity in your area will be the main contributing factor to how often you need to drain your portable AC unit. On average, you can expect to drain your air conditioner every eight hours of continuous use. 

Below you’ll find out everything you need to know about draining your portable AC.

Let’s get started.

How Often Should You Drain Your Portable AC?

Style of Air Conditioner Can Affect Draining Needs

You will find two basic models that use partially self-evaporative and fully self-evaporative. 

Naturally, the partially self-evaporative will require you to drain water at some time during operation manually.

However, some fully self-evaporative units will have a pump to outside, making it easy for you not to worry about draining the air conditioner. 

Environmental Locations Can Affect Draining Needs

Different locations around the world will have altering humidity levels. 

If you are running a portable AC unit in a dry climate with low humidity, like Arizona, you may only have to drain your air conditioner every few days or up to once a week, depending on usage.

For someone living in more humid climates, such as Florida, running a portable air conditioner may require draining every six to eight hours of continuous use. 

What Happens When You Don’t Drain Your Portable AC Regularly

1. The Unit Will Turn Off

Many air conditioning models will automatically turn off when the water reservoir is full and needs emptying.

Some include an indicator light to alert you of the problem. If your portable air conditioner doesn’t turn on, be sure to check that it does not need draining. 

2. Bacteria, Mold, and Mildew Can Build Up

Even if the water reservoir never fills completely, standing water is a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and mildew, especially in warm climates.

Therefore, you must regularly drain your portable AC unit so that there is no stagnant water sitting to create an opportunity for bacteria, mold, or mildew to grow in your home. 

3. Water Overflow

You want to avoid having water overflow out of the reservoir at all costs.

When water spills out of the drain pan of your air conditioner, it can cause damage to your home and the AC unit. This problem mustn’t happen when you are not home to remedy the situation immediately. 

4. Damage to the Internal Components

If you regularly forget to drain your portable AC unit, water can spill over into the components inside or promote bacteria growth within the air conditioner.

In addition, when water sits in contact with AC units, internal corrosion can occur, causing damage to the functional components. 

5. You Could Void the Warranty

If you are not consistently draining your portable air conditioner and it causes operation problems, it may void the warranty.

In addition, negligence of proper care and maintenance can leave you with an AC unit that does not function correctly. 

Why Your Portable AC Is Producing So Much Water

  • High outside environmental humidity
  • Increased internal humidity levels from showering, cooking, or people in the home
  • Self-evaporative or partially self-evaporative functions are not working correctly

If your portable air conditioner is producing more water than usual, and it is not due to environmental humidity, you want to check to ensure that it operates correctly. 

Consider Setting up Continuous Drain

If you want to run your portable air conditioner for long periods without worrying about draining the reservoir, you should consider setting up a continuous drain. This option will not work with every model, unfortunately. 

To determine if your air conditioner has a constant drain capability, contact the manufacturer or refer to the owner’s manual. 

Check for a Drain Attachment 

Some portable air conditioners will have a small drain attachment at the reservoir tank.

Often a hose is a separate purchase and does not come with the unit, although many models will fit a standard garden hose. 

If you have a drain attachment option, it is easy to remove the cap, secure a hose to this port, and ensure the other end drains outside or into a drain.

The hose mustn’t go above the drain attachment as gravity will need to help move the water through the hose. 

Use a Condensate Pump

If you cannot rely on gravity to move the water with a drain hose, purchasing a condensate pump can force the water through the hose and to another location.

This option is ideal for homes where you do not have access to a separate area that is lower than the drain attachment on the reservoir. 

Final Thoughts

Having a portable air conditioner can make life easier during those hot days.

Be sure to check your portable air conditioner often if you live in humid climates and drain it regularly to prevent any potentially hazardous situations. You should be draining your AC unit every eight hours on average, depending on the usage. 

Examine your air conditioner regularly for any bacteria, mold, or mildew from any water, and clean the unit regularly.

This way, your portable air conditioner will continue to function as it should without any issues.

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About Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen has a burning passion for heating, cooling, and ventilation. He aims to help you save money on expensive repairs and bring you the best HVAC products. He has years of experience behind him in HVAC repair and garage maintenance.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]

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