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Portable air conditioners remove moisture from the air and need to get rid of it. They can be of the self-evaporating, gravity drain, or collection bucket types. The self-evaporating portable air conditioners evaporate the collected water and eliminate it as steam while the others drain it. However, the air conditioner may not effectively evaporate the water properly.
Among the causes of a portable air conditioner not evaporating water include high humidity in the area, a high humidity season, a dirty air filter, a faulty condensate pump, a poor water drainage system, or the air filter being new and having lots of water to condense when it’s turned on for the first time.
Causes of Portable Air Conditioner Not Evaporating Water
Your portable air conditioner won’t be evaporating water due to the following reasons:
1. There is high humidity in the area
When your air conditioner dehumidifies the air, it’ll remove all the excess moisture from it to a certain level. As such, when you want a humidity level of 30% when the air is only 40% humid, the air conditioner will not collect much water.
On the other hand, if you still want 30% humidity and the air indoors is 70% humid, the air conditioner will collect lots of water. Such a high amount of water can be problematic to evaporate as it may overwhelm the air conditioner. This is especially when the air conditioner has a lower capacity than the area it’s required to cover.
If there’s too much water, the air conditioner can effectively evaporate and exhaust the rest of the warm air, you’re likely to have water collecting on a pan inside the conditioner, or if the pan is full, it will spill to the floor.
Besides spoiling certain types of floors, the overflowing water can lead to the growth of mold and mildew and develop rust on the air conditioner, so you might want to run an air purifier and dehumidifier at the same time to clean indoor air and get rid of mold spores in the air.
2. It’s a high humidity season
The amount of humidity in the air isn’t constant for each season since the warmer seasons, such as summer, have higher humidity than the colder ones like winter. This can be observed in the increase in condensate in the air conditioner.
In high humidity seasons, there might be so much humidity in the air that the air conditioner doesn’t effectively evaporate all of it. Again, it could be a low-capacity air conditioner that can’t handle certain humidity levels.
3. A dirty air filter
Before the air conditioner blows air into the room after cooling it, it passes it through an air filter which filters out dust and other airborne debris. With time, the air filter clogs up with dirt. With this, less air will come out of the air conditioner, and, in effect, less air will flow over the evaporator coil.
The end result is that the evaporator coil freezes up almost all the moisture in the air passing over it, resulting in more water being generated than the air conditioner can evaporate.
4. A faulty condensate pump
You might need to employ a condensate pump for portable air conditioners that don’t get rid of water through evaporation fast enough. A condensate pump works by pumping the water from the condensate pan to a location of your choice, such as the drain.
Condensate pumps have issues such as breaking down or clogging up, making the water collection from the AC problematic. If your AC can’t eject all the water collected and needs to get rid of it and the condensate pump is faulty, water will keep collecting inside it.
5. Poor water drainage system
Before the air conditioner evaporates, the water condensed by the condenser coils, it needs to collect first. At times, collecting this water is hampered by a fault in the air conditioner, such as a leak or clog in the drainage system. Instead of evaporating, this water can drip onto the floor around the air conditioner.
6. The air filter is new
If it’s the first time you’re using a portable air conditioner in your home, don’t be surprised when it condenses more water than it can effectively evaporate. This is because a new air conditioner or dehumidifier will absorb water from the air, the furniture, clothes, ceiling, walls, floor, and other areas. That’s a lot of moisture to deal with at once.
With time, this issue will go away as the home’s indoor moisture reduces to a relative constant.
Also, a new air conditioner may have been damaged in transit and will need fixing or replacement.
7. It’s not a self-evaporating air conditioner
Suppose you’re wondering why your air conditioner has never evaporated water since you bought it yet keeps collecting it in the condensate pan. In that case, it’s likely not meant to evaporate the water. Only fully evaporative portable air conditioners are meant to fully evaporate the collected water. Even partially evaporative ones will have some water to collect.
Solutions to Portable Air Conditioner Not Evaporating Water
The solutions to the above problems include the following:
1. Change the AC settings
For high humidity regions and seasons, you may need to adjust the humidity settings of the portable AC to reduce the amount of water it condenses from the air. Increasing the humidity readings of the AC means less water is collected, which can be evaporated effectively.
As the indoor humidity drops, you can reduce the humidity needed.
2. Buy a bigger AC
The other solution is simply buying a bigger AC which can do the work faster without straining. A bigger portable air conditioner will cool and dehumidify the air in less time and effectively evaporate the water condensed to blow it away as steam in the exhaust pipe.
3. Clean the air filter
A dirty air filter can be cleaned in the following steps:
- Turn off the AC unit.
- Vacuum the air filter making sure the vacuum cleaner pulls out (rather than blows in) the dirt.
- Soak the filter in a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar for an hour.
- Rinse it with clean water.
- Dry the filter by keeping it under the shade.
- Place it back into the air conditioner.
- Replace the air filter cover.
You will need to replace it with a new filter if it’s damaged.
4. Fix or replace the condensate pump
If the pipes from the condensate pump to the drain are clogged, you should remove them and then unclog them by forcing water through them.
If the pump is broken in another way, find an expert to fix it or buy and install a new condensate pump.
5. Clean and seal the water drainage system
For problems affecting the water drainage and collection systems, such as leaks and clogs, fix them accordingly. In this case, seal the leaking areas and unclog any clogged pipes.
6. Give a new AC time to adjust
It might take a while for the air conditioner to remove the excess moisture in the house to a level it can control without straining. This might take a few days to weeks, depending on the size of the house and the AC itself.
7. Buy a self-evaporating AC
If you’re unsure about the type of portable AC you have or intend to buy, ask the salesperson or check it out online. This will save you lots of trouble in dealing with the condensation.
These solutions to the mentioned problems should be enough to restore the everyday workings of your AC. If they don’t work, call in an expert, especially one from the company that manufactured the AC.
How often should you drain your portable AC?
If your portable air conditioner isn’t fully evaporative, you should drain the condensed moisture at least once a week. However, the frequency of draining your portable AC depends on the air’s humidity, the type and size of AC you have, and the number of hours the AC is operating.
With time, you will learn how often to drain the AC depending on these aspects. Don’t wait till the condensate pan overflows as it can lead to mold and mildew in the AC besides rusting.
HVAC tech with over 30 years of experience. Retired and doing repair work on the side around Madison County, AL.