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How to Drain a Portable Air Conditioner

How to Drain a Portable Air Conditioner

Portable air conditioners are a great alternative when you need to control the temperatures in your home or dehumidify. They are easy to use, especially since they do not require installation, and maintenance is affordable and straightforward. However, one disadvantage about these appliances is you may need to drain the water it has collected. The draining procedure varies from unit to unit, but it is easy to do by yourself. This article will give you details on how to drain a portable air conditioner and when you must do so.

Do you have to empty water from a portable air conditioner?

You do not always have to empty water from your portable air conditioner. If the air in your home is dry, then you may not need to drain the water. Water that is drained from your appliance comes from cooling air that is humid. Therefore, if the air in your home is dry, there will be no water in your air conditioner.

Some portable air conditioners can get rid of water from the air through an exhaust vent located in the back or side. It collects water in the tank; then the vapor is sprayed out of the machine through the exhaust hose on the appliance. However, if the air in your home is humid, you may need to remove the excess water from the tank constantly.

How often do you have to drain a portable air conditioner?

The frequency with which you drain your portable air conditioner depends on several factors as follows:


Where you live and how humid it is will affect how often you need to drain your air conditioner. If you live in a very humid area, you may need to empty it every eight hours. In a moderately moist area, you may need to expel the water every two weeks or so. Humidity can increase depending on what is going on in your homes, such as showering and cooking. Having more people in your home may also increase the moisture in the house.

Temperature settings

If you notice that you suddenly have to drain your air conditioner more often than you needed to, then check your settings. The wrong settings could overwork your conditioner, which means it collects more water from the atmosphere. Check the recommended settings from your user manual to ensure that you are not overusing the machine.

Usage frequency

If the air conditioner is always running on hot and humid days, then it is likely that it will need draining more often. Also, if your unit has extra features such as an in-built heater, it may collect more water since the heater uses more energy.

How to drain a portable air conditioner

New models will shut off automatically if they need draining, so you don’t have to worry about checking the drainage. However, it is essential to estimate when your portable air conditioner needs emptying, so you don’t entirely rely on the sensor only.

Hose option

Check your user manual to see whether you can use a hose to drain the portable air conditioner. Then, get a suitable hose that fits perfectly over the drainage port and use gravity to drain the water from your unit. You can attach any hose as long as it fits tightly to the port to avoid leaking that may make a mess. If your A/C has the hose option, you can leave it on to continuously drain, and you don’t have to do it manually.

Drain into a sink

Unplug the unit from the outlet and carry it over a sink, ensuring that you keep it level to prevent the water from overflowing. Keep the A/C on a flat surface, unscrew the drain plug and allow it to drain into the sink. Ensure that you keep the unit close enough to the sink to avoid spilling it onto the appliance, which can cause a malfunction.

Condensate pump

This is another excellent way to drain your portable air conditioner automatically, so it is a great option if you live in a humid area. The condensate pump contains two hoses. One side is connected to the drain port, while the other is the drainage to get rid of the water. You can place the drain end to a bucket, sink, or window. The pump will start removing water from the A/C when it collects a set water level in the unit. It drains out the water then shuts off immediately the water is drained out.

What happens if you don’t drain your portable air conditioner?

Several things can happen when you don’t drain your air conditioner when you are supposed to:

Shut down

Almost all the portable air conditioners will shut down when you don’t drain them. This happens to avoid an overflow of water in the tank which will certainly destroy the unit. However, you don’t have to worry about this happening since before it shuts down, it will let you know that the tank is full. Therefore, it is essential to drain the unit immediately after you get this alarm to avoid it shutting down and not turning on again.


In case the off-switch malfunctions, then the unit won’t turn off when the tank is full. As a result, there will be water overflow from the tank damaging the unit or creating a mess in your home.

Mold growth

Your portable air conditioner can grow mold when you don’t drain it since stagnant water will create the perfect environment for growth. This is why even when you live in a dry climate, you should check the tank often and drain the little water collected.

How do you drain a portable air conditioner without a drainage hose?

Some units cannot drain using a hose, and this is usually indicated in the user manual. A good way of draining water from such a unit is by using a pan placed right under the drain port. Ensure that you unplug the unit before opening the port and allow it to remove the water before plugging it again.

A portable air conditioner is convenient to have in your home when you don’t have an installed unit. However, since it collects some water from the air, it is essential to drain it often to avoid water damage. If you notice the A/C accumulates more moisture than you can drain manually, try some automatic options such as using a pump or hose.