Stress Free Portable Air Conditioner Maintenance and Cleaning

Maintaining a portable air conditioner is usually quite easy. Here are the most common maintenance requirements.

AC-14000E Image4Initial Venting

Installing a mobile air conditioner is simple, but an exhaust hose must be used to vent hot air outdoors. Venting kits are typically included with each unit and take only a few minutes to set up. The kit includes an adjustable slider that fits into a window. The exhaust hose runs from the back of the unit to an opening in the slider. Click here to read more about window venting.

In instances where venting through a window may be impossible, the unit can also be vented through walls or drop ceilings. These installation methods may require a bit more work than using regular window kits, but it will allow you to use the portable air conditioner in areas where there are no windows.

Before doing any cleaning or maintenance on your portable cooling unit, make sure it is turned off and unplugged.

Water Drainage

When a room air conditioner cools the ambient air, water is also removed. Most of this water is used to cool the actual unit, which results in more efficient cooling. In especially humid climates, excess water is collected in an internal tank. This water must be periodically emptied from the AC.


  • Manual draining - open the drain plug in the bottom of the unit and let the water empty out into a bowl.
  • Continuous draining - attach one end of a hose to the drain in the bottom of the unit, and put the other end in a sink or floor drain, and the unit will empty continuously as it operates.
  • Self-evaporative - most of the excess water is evaporated and exhausted outside with the hot air discharge. Manual draining may be required in high humidity.

How often do you need to empty the tank in a portable AC? That will depend on the humidity in the air, how long the unit operates, and the size of the water tank. In particularly humid weather, you may need to empty it more than once a day. In dryer weather, you might be able to go as long as a week. But don't let water sit in the tank for more than a week, or it will become stagnant and lead to the growth of mold and mildew.

Most portable ACs have an alarm or signal light to let you know when the tank needs to be emptied, and will shut off automatically to prevent overflowing.

You can use the water you drain from the portable AC to water plants, but don't drink it or give it to your pets!

Cleaning and/or Replacing Air Filters

airfilterMost portable air conditioners include some kind of washable air filter that removes particulates from the air. Some advanced units have built-in air purifiers complete with ionizers and carbon filters for improved odor control. When these filters get clogged with dust and dirt, they can impact how well the AC works - if you notice a decrease in cooling capacity, it might be because the filters are dirty.

Clean the filters bi-weekly or monthly, depending on how heavily you use the portable room air conditioner, to ensure that it continues to function properly. Regular cleaning also ensures that the air you are breathing is fresher, healthier, and free of allergens.

  • To clean washable filters, simply slide the filters out and wash in warm water with a mild detergent. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry before replacing them back into the unit.
  • Carbon filters are not washable and will need to be replaced according to manufacturer's directions - usually every few months or so.

Cleaning Housing

cleaningsuppliesKeeping the housing of your mobile air conditioner clean will increase air volume, and it should also be done every few weeks or so.

  • Turn off the unit and unplug it before beginning cleaning.
  • Start by using a vacuum with a hose attachment to clean out the vents and louvers.
  • Wipe the exterior surface of the portable AC unit with a soft, damp cloth. Be careful not to splash water on or into the unit. Never use abrasive chemicals or detergents that might cause scratches or damage the surface.

Also, try to keep the portable air conditioner away from direct sunlight as much as possible, as this can change the surface color of the unit's body.

End of Season Storage

When the cooler months arrive, store your portable air conditioner properly to extend the life of the unit and to ensure maximum cooling efficiency next year.

  • Drain all condensate water from the water tank.
  • Turn the portable air conditioner to fan mode for a few hours in order to dry out the unit's interior.
  • Clean the filter as outlined above.
  • When the unit is completely dry, replace the filters.
  • Wrap the cord around the cord hooks.
  • Pack the unit, along with the various pieces of the window venting kit, in the original carton.
  • Store it in a dry location.

Some portable air conditioning units with built-in heaters can be used year-round, so storage may not be necessary. However regular maintenance is still required to ensure they function properly and last season after season.

If you have questions about air conditioner maintenance, our cooling experts will be happy to help. To shop our selection of best portable air conditioners for sale, click here. We have free shipping available on hundreds of in-stock products.


Troubleshooting your Portable Air Conditioner
The Green Guide to Portable AC
Best Portable Air Conditioners