Do portable air conditioners need to be drained

Yes, portable air conditioners need to be drained. They remove moisture from the air as they cool, and this moisture collects in a tray or tank inside the unit. If this moisture is not drained, it can lead to mold growth, musty odors, and even damage to the unit. Some portable air conditioners have a self-evaporating function, which means that they re-use the water to help cool the air and don’t need to be drained as often. However, it’s still important to check and empty the tray or tank regularly to avoid any issues.

Portable air conditioners are a popular choice for people who want to cool a room without the expense and hassle of installing a central air conditioning system. However, one question that many people have is whether or not these units need to be drained. After all, they are collecting moisture from the air, so it stands to reason that they might need to be emptied periodically.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at whether or not portable air conditioners need to be drained, and if so, how to do it.

How portable air conditioners remove moisture

Portable air conditioners remove moisture through a process called condensation. Warm air is pulled into the unit through the intake hose and passed over a set of cold coils known as the evaporator. As the warm air passes over the cold coils, the moisture in the air condenses and forms droplets on the coils. The cool, dry air is then blown back out into the room while the condensed water droplets are collected in a tray or reservoir inside the unit.

Some portable air conditioners also use a second process known as evaporation to further remove moisture from the air. In this process, the collected water droplets are evaporated and expelled out of the unit along with the warm exhaust air. This can help to reduce the need for frequent drainage.

It is important to note that not all portable air conditioners are designed to remove moisture through evaporation, and some may require more frequent draining.

Do all portable air conditioners need to be drained?

Yes, most portable air conditioners need to be drained in order to remove excess moisture that is collected during the cooling process. However, some models have self-evaporative technology that recycles and reuses the collected moisture to cool the air. It is important to check the manufacturer’s instructions to determine whether or not your particular model requires draining.

In general, smaller portable air conditioners with lower BTU ratings are more likely to need draining than larger models with higher BTU ratings. This is because smaller units have less capacity to collect and store moisture.

Failure to drain your portable air conditioner when necessary can lead to issues such as water damage, mold growth, and reduced efficiency. Therefore, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and regularly check and empty the unit’s water collection tank or drain hose.

How to drain a portable air conditioner?

To drain a portable air conditioner, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the air conditioner and unplug it from the power source.
  2. Locate the drain plug or drainage hose at the bottom or back of the unit.
  3. Place a bucket or large container underneath the drain plug or hose to catch the water.
  4. Remove the drain plug or loosen the hose clamp to allow the water to flow out.
  5. Let the water drain completely before replacing the drain plug or tightening the hose clamp.
  6. Once the water has drained, wipe the area clean with a cloth to prevent any potential mold or mildew buildup.

It’s important to note that not all portable air conditioners have a drain plug or hose, and some may use an internal reservoir or evaporative system to manage moisture. In these cases, you may need to consult the user manual or contact the manufacturer for specific instructions on how to drain or maintain your unit.

Maintaining a portable air conditioner to prevent the need for draining

Maintaining a portable air conditioner is important not only for its longevity but also to prevent the need for draining excess moisture. Here are some tips on how to maintain a portable air conditioner:

  1. Clean or replace the air filter: A dirty air filter can reduce the efficiency of the air conditioner and cause it to work harder, resulting in excess condensation. Clean or replace the filter regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Clean the condenser coils: Over time, dirt and debris can accumulate on the condenser coils, reducing their ability to cool the air and increasing the moisture in the air. Use a soft brush to gently clean the coils or hire a professional for a thorough cleaning.
  3. Keep the exhaust hose clean and unobstructed: The exhaust hose allows the hot air to escape from the air conditioner. Make sure it is not blocked or bent, which can cause the air conditioner to work harder and produce excess moisture.
  4. Use a dehumidifier: A dehumidifier can remove excess moisture from the air and reduce the workload of the air conditioner. Use it in conjunction with the air conditioner, especially in humid climates.

By following these maintenance tips, you can keep your portable air conditioner running efficiently and prevent the need for draining excess moisture.


In conclusion, portable air conditioners do remove moisture from the air, and in some cases, it may need to be drained to prevent overflow or damage to the unit. It’s important to read the manufacturer’s instructions to determine if your specific portable air conditioner requires draining, and if so, how often it needs to be done. Regular maintenance, including cleaning and changing filters, can also help prevent the need for draining. Overall, proper care and maintenance of your portable air conditioner can help keep it running smoothly and effectively.


1. How often should I drain my portable air conditioner?

The frequency of draining your portable air conditioner depends on how often you use it and how humid the environment is. If you live in a humid area and use your portable air conditioner frequently, you may need to drain it every 1-2 days. However, if you live in a drier area and use your air conditioner less frequently, you may only need to drain it once a week.

2. Can I use a hose to drain my portable air conditioner?

Yes, many portable air conditioners come with a drainage hose that can be attached to the unit for easy draining. If your unit did not come with a hose, you can purchase one at a hardware or home improvement store. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific hose recommendations and instructions.

3. What happens if I don’t drain my portable air conditioner?

If you don’t drain your portable air conditioner, the water that has been collected during the cooling process will continue to accumulate and may eventually overflow. This can lead to water damage to your floors, carpets, and furniture. Additionally, excess moisture can promote the growth of mold and mildew in your home, which can be harmful to your health.

4. How do I know when to drain my portable air conditioner?

Many portable air conditioners have an indicator light that will alert you when the water tank is full and needs to be drained. Additionally, you can check the water tank yourself by looking at the level of water inside. If the water level is close to the top, it’s time to drain the unit.

5. Can I use my portable air conditioner without draining it?

No, you should not use your portable air conditioner without draining it. Not only can this lead to water damage and mold growth, but it can also cause the unit to operate less efficiently, which can result in higher energy bills. It’s important to make draining your portable air conditioner a regular part of your maintenance routine.

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