Troubleshooting Your Portable Air Conditioner
If your portable air conditioner isn't working properly you might want to wait before you call a repairman and pay an expensive fee to have it fixed. Some portable AC problems can easily be repaired at home. This troubleshooting guide will help you identify what is wrong with your portable air conditioning unit and walk you through the steps to fixing it yourself.
Below are some common issues with portable air conditioners. Read the list to find which one most closely matches your problem and then follow the steps in order to fix it. Please note if you are experiencing any issues that aren't listed below or that require any electrical wiring, it is strongly recommended that you don't try to fix it yourself but rather contact a professional.
My Portable Air Conditioner Won't Start
- Check that the water reservoir isn't full. Air conditioners act as dehumidifiers because they remove water from the air, which collects in buckets that need to be emptied periodically. If it's full, a float switch can interrupt power to the unit and halt operation.
- Make sure that the air conditioning unit is properly plugged into the outlet. If it has an integrated circuit interrupter then make sure it hasn't been tripped. If so, press the reset button. If the reset button won't stay engaged then there is probably a problem with the wiring and you'll need to have a professional fix it. Also, make sure that the cord itself isn't damaged.
- You should check the breaker to make sure the power is being supplied to the room air conditioner. If the unit is on its own circuit and a fuse is blown or the breaker is tripped then it is probably a problem with the wiring and a professional will need to fix it.
My Portable Air Conditioner Isn't Cooling Properly
- Check that the air filter has been properly cleaned by removing the grill (it should be cleaned about every two weeks). To clean the filter, remove it from the frame and tap the filter lightly with your hands to remove any dust and dirt particles. Do the same to the carbon filter (if your unit includes one). Then thoroughly rinse the filters with warm water and a mild detergent. Let them dry completely.
- Make sure that there isn't any furniture or objects blocking the air intake vents on the AC unit, and that there is proper clearance around the unit. The vents might be dirty and can be easily cleaned by light vacuuming.
- Make sure there isn't any ice building up on the air conditioner's coils. If so, see the "IceBuildup" section below.
- Make sure that the portable air conditioner is correctly sized for the room you are using it in. See "Doesn't Stop Running" below.
My Portable Air Conditioner Doesn't Stop Running
- You should make sure that the portable air conditioner isn't too small for the area that you are trying to cool. You can determine what size AC unit you need by looking at the BTU (British Thermal Unit) rating. It describes cooling capacity and the higher the BTU, the stronger the portable air conditioner. To get a quick estimate of how many BTUs you need just multiply the square footage of the room by 35 to get a rough estimate. You can also refer to our Air Conditioner BTU chart to easily find the BTU you need for your room. Be sure to account for extra sunny or shady areas, additional people in a room and kitchens.
- You should make sure that all the doors and windows are closed in the area that you are trying to cool because you want to minimize the heat gain to your home. Portable ACs need to operate in a "closed" environment with air that is continuously circulated in order to work properly.
My Portable Air Conditioner Won't Blow Air
- This most likely means that the fan motor is bad. You shouldn't try to fix this yourself. Contact a professional to have it fixed properly.
My Portable Air Conditioner is Leaking
- Make sure that the water reservoir isn't full. In more humid climates water can collect more quickly. So how often you need to drain the water bucket depends on where you live and how much you run the portable air conditioner.
- Almost all units also include the option for a drain hose and this can become stopped up, preventing the water from draining properly and leaking. So this hose may need to be cleaned or it is not properly installed.
My Portable Air Conditioner has Ice Build-up
- You should turn the air conditioner off and run the fan on high speed. This will dry out the inside of the unit and remove any ice that has built up on the coils. After about 2 hours it should be completely dry.
- When the ice has melted off and it is completely dry, check that the filter has been properly cleaned. For more detailed instructions on how to clean the unit, see the above section "Isn't Cooling Properly".
My Portable Air Conditioner is Making a Rattling Noise
- Remove the portable air conditioner's cabinet and reposition the fan. Then tighten the screw at the center of the fan. The noise is probably caused by the fan coming in contact with the housing or coils of the unit.
After following this troubleshooting guide hopefully your portable air conditioner is running properly. If for some reason it still isn't working or you have a more complicated problem that is not listed above then you should probably contact a professional. Also, it's important to reiterate that if the issue is more complex and requires any type of electrical wiring then you should contact a professional instead of trying to fix it yourself. However, repairmen can be very expensive so you might be better off purchasing a new portable air conditioner altogether if you've had yours a while.
5 Common Portable Air Conditioner Mistakes
The Green Guide to Portable Air Conditioners
Best Portable Air Conditioners