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

Two of the most common questions we get about portable AC units are:

  1. Why does water collect in my unit?
  2. How often do I need to empty the water bucket

The good news is you may never have to empty the water bucket. I’ll get to that in a second. Before that, let me tell you why water collects in the first place. As they are cooling it loses its ability to hold as much water. So this excess moisture is collected in your AC as the moisture builds up. Some of it is automatically evaporated and released through an exhaust hose.

There are two types of portable air conditioners

  1. Partially self evaporative
  2. Fully self evaporative

Most portable ACS are partially evaporative. So let’s talk about those first partially evaporative. Air conditioners evaporate a large amount of moisture but some water still builds up and needs to be emptied from time to time, depending on the humidity in your environment.

How often do you have to drain a portable air conditioner

The most basic way to get rid of this water is to manually drain it. Simply remove the drain plug and allow the unit to drain into an empty container. How often you’ll need to do this depends on your humidity and how long you run your AC.

It can be anywhere from six to eight hours to several weeks. A lower maintenance option that’s available in select units is to use a drain hose. Simply attach the drain hose to your AC and run it to another location. Keep in mind that drain hoses rely on gravity. To move water, you won’t be able to drain vertically or through a window but it’s a convenient option to avoid manual draining and is especially popular in basements with floor drains.

The most versatile draining option is a condensate pump. These let you drain water up and out of an area without relying on gravity. Most people who use a condensate pump guide theirs outside a window fully evaporative ACS removes all collected moisture so no water builds up inside the units. Meaning you don’t need to drain them.

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