6 Reasons Your Portable AC is Filling with Water Too Quickly

Water Spilled

Portable air conditioners generate water during the cooling process. The is due to the fact that portable ACs operates on the same refrigeration cycle as all the compressor-based air conditioners i.e. vapor compression cycle.

The quantity of water produced depends on various factors, especially humidity. However a portable AC filling with water too quickly is a real problem. It is very uncomfortable to drain the condensate pan every few hours. Especially at night when you need a good consistent sleep after long day work.

The primary reason for your portable AC filling with water too quickly is humidity in the region you live. However excessive water deposit may also be due to dirty filter or clogged condensate line. Due to clogging flow over the evaporator coil is blocked leading to ice that continuously melts and fills the water container.

Many portable air conditioners have self-evaporation technology. This means that water produced is automatically exhausted through vent hose. However all portable ACs do not have this technology. Even if your portable AC has the ability to automatically expel water most of ACs are partially evaporative. Which means they still have a water tray. The purpose of the water tray is to hold water in case it is not expelled at the same rate as it is generated.

Why Is Your Portable AC Filling with Water Quickly

1. High humidity in your Area

Your portable air conditioner is generating water whether less or more by the condensation of humidity from the air. So the amount of water that it generates is in direct proportion to the humidity in air.

If you live in an area with high humidity more water will be accumulated in the condensate pan of your portable AC. For example in Louisiana or Texas the average relative humidity is about 75 percent. This is really high and they are among the top humid cities in America.


So if you are living in one of these regions of US or any other comparable regions in the world you will have to empty water pan pretty many times. In cities with low humidity like Nevada or Arizona having very low average relative humidity (below 40 percent) the frequency of manual drainage is very low.

Most of the portable ACs are partially evaporative and in these cities you may never have to care about condensate. The reason is automatic exhaust of most of the moisture that is accumulated.

In case you are thinking about buying a portable AC consider which type is best for you. In a region with low humidity you may use a portable AC without self-evaporative technology as you will not face problems with recurring drainage. However in highly humid regions it is best that you use a partially evaporative or fully evaporative portable AC to avoid continuous interruption and inconvenience.

2. Dirty Air Filter

The air that is cooled by your portable AC is delivered to the living space after it has gone through an air filter. Filter blocks dust and debris from the air. Filter has to be cleaned after specific hours of cooling operation. How much is that duration depends on the quality of air that passes through it.

One of the causes why your portable AC keeps filling up is a dirty filter. A clogged filter by debris will result in blocking of air coming out of your portable air conditioner. The flow rate of air will be reduced and less air will pass over the evaporator coil.

As a result evaporator coil will freeze up the moisture in air and it will keep dripping into the condensate pan. Even if you have a partially evaporative portable air conditioner the water will not be exhausted at the same rate at which it is dripping and you will have to keep emptying your portable AC.

Most of the air conditioners have filter reset indicator. It turns on when the filter is dirty or specific number of hours have been passed in the operation. The duration after which the filter reset light turns on is assigned by the company. The air conditioner will not turn ON until you take out the filter, clean it and then put it back on.

So give a check to air filter of your portable AC. Extract the filter out and clean it. The filters in air conditioners are almost always reusable so you will not have to change it. Use lukewarm water to wash the air filter gently. Allow it to dry properly before inserting it back.

3. Just a Humid Season

Generally relative humidity is variable in different cities and regions of the country. However it also depends on the season in which you are operating your portable air conditioner. In some days of the year humidity becomes comparatively high compared to others. So relatively higher amount of water generated on some days might be just seasonal.

The times of of the year when the humidity is maximum and minimum vary according to the state and city your are in. For example in New York, September is the most humid month and the least humid is April. This means that around September your portable air conditioner will generate more water compared to April. While in Nome July is the most humid month.

If all of a sudden it is accumulating a large amount of water it is probably not due to seasonal change. The reason is that the effect on humidity in the air by the weather is not impulsive. And the the variation in increase and decrease is not massive. So if you encounter large amount of water generated by your portable AC on a specific day it is probably due to some other problem.

4. You Just Bought The Portable AC

If you have purchased a new portable AC and it is generating a lot of water then it is very rare that it has a technical fault. The reason is air conditioner companies are very keen of their reputation when selling the unit. They cannot afford to hurt their reputation as there is so much competition. Unless the damage or problem in the AC is during delivery and you can return the portable AC to get a new one.

The reason of course primarily may be high relative humidity in the area you live but it might just be due to the fact that you have bought a new unit. When you air condition your living space after a while, AC removes the humidity from floor, walls, ceiling, furniture and other things including the air. This might result in high amount of water accumulation in the water pan.

So if your water pan keeps filling test your new portable AC, give it some time before simple returning it back. If it keeps filling then either the air conditioner is faulty or it is not suitable for the area you live in i.e. high average relative humidity. The latter means that you might want to consider another type of portable AC like partially evaporative or fully evaporative.

Cardboard Packaging

5. Faulty Condensate Pump

An easy way to get rid of condensate entirely is to set up a condensate pump. Normally the water that is accumulating in the water pan is directed to your desirable location by using condensate pump. It is very easy to set it up.

If you are using a condensate pump and water is leaking or water tank keeps filling up then it is very certain that there is problem with the condensate pump setup. Either the condensate pump is faulty or the drain hose entering or leaving the pump is blocked or bent. This is stopping the route of water. It is a good idea to check the pipe running before and after the condensate pump.

If you have not used a condensate pump till now give it a look, especially if you are bothered with draining your portable AC. It is very easy to setup. All you have to do is attach the drain hose to your AC and connect it with the condensate pump. The condensate pump is connected to an electricity source. The water keep collecting into your condensate pump until it has reached a certain level. When that level is reached pump will start by itself and water will be directed to your desired location.

You may run the drain hose directly into another location and drain water without using a condensate pump. However keep in mind that it needs gravity to do so. So if the water has to travel against gravity (upward direction) this method will not work. In condensate pump this problem is resolved and water may be pumped to another location against gravity.

The most convenient option thereby is using a condensate pump. If you want to go with it, I picked one for you. Click here to see specifications.

6. Water Not Draining Properly

Most basic way of draining water from your portable AC is to manually drain it. For that you will have to remove the drain plug and allow the unit to drain into an empty container. How often you will have to do it depends on your humidity and how long you run your AC. It may vary from 6-8 hours to several weeks.

If you are draining manually by this basic method then you will know in case there is a problem. For example your AC indicating that its water tank is full but no water is coming out after you remove the drain plug. One of the reasons may be that the water is blocked from coming out of the water tank due to clogged drain. There is nothing that would clog it from inside so something has probably gone from outside when it was not covered.

Now if you are using a drain hose to automatically remove water from you portable AC by gravity method or condensate pump, your water tank should never fill up. Most common cause could be blocking of water in the drain hose. Check for the bends in the drain hose especially 90 degree bends. Also check the pipe after the condensate pump in case you are using one.

How Often Should You Drain Your Portable AC

The frequency of drainage of your portable AC in a day depends on various factors. It depends on humidity, numbers of hours of operation and the type of portable AC you have. If you have an air conditioner that has self-evaporative technology then most of the humidity will automatically be removed through the vent during the exhaust of warm air.

Most of the portable AC in the market have self-evaporation technology. There are further two classification of the portable AC though: Partially Evaporative Portable AC and Fully Evaporative Portable AC. Most of the portable AC are partially evaporative. So if you have just bought a portable AC and you don’t which one it is, most probably it is partially evaporative.

Partially Evaporative Portable AC

Most of the portable ACs available in the market are partially evaporative AC. They have self evaporation technology. However they will not exhaust all the humidity that is collected during the cooling process. They have to be drained periodically depending on the humidity in the air unless there is one of the other problems stated above.

Fully Evaporative Portable AC

Fully Evaporative Portable AC is completely autonomous in removing the humidity from the air. If you want to completely get rid of the hassle go with this one.

Wrapping up…

So in short there are various factors why your portable AC is generating a lot water. Relative humidity is the primary reason for accumulation of of water. However there are several controllable factors like dirty filter, faulty condensate pump, clogged condensate etc. Give them a check in case humidity is not the problem.

Also select the portable AC carefully depending on the climate of the region you live in. If humidity is very high and your portable AC is not doing a very good job at exhausting consider modifications like draining through hose using gravity or condensate pump.

2 thoughts on “6 Reasons Your Portable AC is Filling with Water Too Quickly”

  1. HI I live in the Tropics where it is very humid 80%. Recently, last week to be exact I have been having issue with my portable AC. It keeps on indicating the excess water tank is full and I have to discharge water every 30 minutes. This had never happened before since purchased in April 2020. I clean air fliters every 2 weeks, and now the air filter is very clean but still have water discahrged excessively. So I find it unusual. If you have a solution do let me know.

    1. Rosemary Ariffin I assume that you have partially evaporative portable AC as most of the portable ACs in the market are of this kind. Well first of all it is abnormal this is not supposed to happen. Considering that water starts collecting so quickly I think you may have clogged evaporator coil or flow of air is less or blocked in some way. This in turn generates ice and keeps filling the container.
      Your portable AC is relatively new it is good idea to seek customer support primarily.
      If however nothing resolves the problem you can use an external accessory like drain hose and/or condensate pump to permenantly resolve the problem.

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