Portable AC Maintenance Tips

Posted by: Mas Broto
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While many people are super conscientious about cleaning, there’s one appliance that almost always goes undetected – the air conditioner. Not only do many people forget that their AC is, in fact, an appliance, but (just like other appliances) they take for granted that it’s always going to run. While that’s mostly true, the question is whether it’s running effectively? To ensure your unit runs effectively, however, you need to learn how to maintain a portable air conditioner properly.

Chances are, if you’re not cleaning and maintaining your portable air conditioner (or any air conditioner for that matter), then not only is it not going to run at optimal levels, but it might actually also make you sick!

If you have a central air conditioning system and have ever looked at the filter, you know exactly what I mean. And if you haven’t, then imagine the filter from your dryer but much, much dirtier, harboring all sorts of bacteria, dust mites, and possibly even mold. And naturally, the more you use your AC, the greater the need to clean it frequently.

The same holds true for your portable air conditioning unit. Though it has a compact design and is designed to blend with your indoor decor, it too is an appliance in need of maintenance. Check out a few maintenance tips to get started on not only having a cleaner AC but a healthier AC.

1. Dirt Removal

Just like with anything else, portable ac units are not immune to dirt and dust settlement. So when dusting your home, don’t forget your portable AC. Just run a damp cloth over it and make sure you wipe thru the air vents as well. Ideally, you should do this every two weeks.

What makes cleaning portable ACs really easy is the fact that they’re compact and moveable. This means it takes considerably less time (and no cost) to clean one – which isn’t the case for any other cooling unit.

2. Carbon Filter

Most portable ACs today include some kind of filter, which work to eliminate odors, allergens, and other impurities from the air. These filters can become clogged over time and should be cleaned regularly – at least once a month during the summer – or your unit won’t be able to pull in the air effectively. Some portable air conditioning units feature activated carbon filters, which are not washable. These will need to be replaced at least once a season.

3. Ventilation

One of the key portable air conditioner maintenance tips is proper ventilation. Most portable ACs require a duct or hose that connects quite discreetly to a window. The hose exhausts the heat removed from the air during the cooling process. If it’s not properly vented, all that hot air will just go back into the room you’re trying to cool.

4. Drainage

Because dehumidification is part of the air conditioning cycle, most portable air conditioners have a drainage tank to collect the water removed from the air. This water needs to be emptied periodically, though the frequency will depend on the current humidity level and the specifics of your particular model.

Types of drainage:

  • Buckets: Units have an internal container that needs regular drainage. Depending on your use and the conditions, drainage frequency can range from 8 hours to once a month.
  • Self-Evaporating: More elite units have the ability to evaporate moisture through their drain exhaust. Some manufacturers even offer fully evaporative models.
  • Gravity Drain – All portable air conditioners have the option of a permanent connecting water drain hose that collects water continuously to drain to a nearby floor drain.
  • Condensate Pumps – Condensate pumps help pump collected water through a drain hose that is usually connected to a window.

Don’t forget to drain the unit completely before storing it away!

Most portable ac units have a self-evaporating system and can evaporate most of the moisture into the air. Other units have a condensate pump. In these ac units, water is collected in a reservoir and then pumped outside through a hose. Many portable ac units come with their own drop ceiling or window kits, but you need to check sizes because exhaust hoses have standard lengths. Some portable ac units collect water in a reservoir that has to be manually emptied every several hours, depending on the size of the reservoir and the humidity in the air. And other portable air conditioners are fully evaporative units, which don't collect water at all but evaporate moisture internally.

5. Defrosting

Portable ACs can become “frozen” when the filter is dirty, the vents are blocked, or if the refrigerant is low. They will also freeze up if the outside temperature drops below 60F. If ice builds up on the coils, run the unit on fan-only mode until it is defrosted. Many units now include auto-defrost mode, so you shouldn’t have to worry about this problem.

One of the great things about portable air conditioners, especially in comparison to other cooling units, is that they provide the atmosphere of central air conditioning but don’t require heavy cleaning or high cleaning cost. They’re simple, effective appliances that only need mild maintenance for functional use.

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Mas Broto
Have been in the heating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry for over 20 years. He is person that will grow and thrive to learn more about the HVAC industry throughout his career. Mas Broto is also a blogger, who's dedicated to bringing you the best knowledge to get ahead in the game of life.