Portable AC Fills With Water Quickly? Learn How to Fix It

Portable AC units are very popular for cooling in most homes. If the portable air conditioner fills with water quickly, the experience can be frustrating. We have a guide on what could be the problem if you think the water is filling too quickly.

Before we start, let us agree that if the unit is filling up once a day, this is very much normal. If you have to empty the AC more than once within 24hrs, there could be a problem.

High humidity levels are the most common cause of a portable air conditioner filling with water quickly, as it has to work harder and collects more water as a result.

7 Reasons Why Your Portable AC is Filling Up with Water Too Quickly

1. First Time Cooling or a New Equipment

Generally, new portable air conditioner units will be used in very humid rooms. The same applies when you use the unit for the first time during warm weather. Almost every part of the room is likely to have significant levels of moisture, from the floors to the ceilings. Even the furniture and rugs may have significant levels of moisture.

The AC unit will be working double-time to dehumidify the room, accumulating a high amount of water. The portable AC using producing so much water in this instance will be justified. You will have to empty the cup or pan much more often, depending on the number of hours the unit will take to cool the room.

2. Humid Area or Humid Season

If you live in a humid area, expect the portable AC to keep filling up during the cooling process. Some of the most humid states include Alaska, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Hawaii. Some cities within these states are quite humid with New Orleans, LA, and Jacksonville, FL the pick of the batch with humidity levels of 76%.

If you live in any of these places, expect the portable AC unit to accumulate excessive water during operations. You can check the average humidity of your region before buying an air conditioning unit. Fully evaporating portable AC units are best for areas that have high humidity. If your region is also prone to high humidity seasons, you may need those fully or partially evaporating units.

Some states are quite forgiving when it comes to humidity, such as Nevada and Arizona. However, they are the exception rather than the norm. Pretty much the rest of the US has at least 50%. Either way, some very humid seasons can also cause your unit to fill up abnormally fast.

3. Dirty Air Filters

Filters have the specific purpose of ensuring that the air is coming in and out of the process efficiently. If the filters are dirty or clogged, expect the whole cooling process and experience to be affected.

If you know that you cannot remember to clean the filters, buy models that have a reminder light or a filter reset indicator. When the air is not circulating efficiently, the unit will have trouble removing the water and will most certainly cause the unit to fill up more often.

Dirty filters generally cause the evaporator coils to work sub-optimally, which can lead to freezing. This freezing will cause the condensate pan to fill up much more quickly.

If you notice that all of a sudden the air conditioner’s condensate pan keeps filling up, think of cleaning the filters. You can also schedule regular AC tune-ups before the cooling season begins. Doing so can reduce some of these problems.

Read Also: Pleated vs Non-Pleated Air Filters

4. Faulty Condensate Pump

Manually emptying the pan can be a frustrating and tedious job. To prevent this constant and nagging experience, you can install a condensate pump to empty the water. It can work quite efficiently if it is done professionally.

However, poor installation can consistently lead to leaking and constant filling of water. If you have a condensate pump and the water keeps filling up.

You may consider getting a professional inspection of the same to confirm that it is working the way it should. The technician will check if the hose and the pump are working in tandem. Once the water fills up to a level where it can be detected by the setup, the pump will automatically pump the water out. Also, check if the drain pumps are draining the water into the right places. You may have to check the drains to ensure that the water can drain away from the unit.

5. Faulty Float Operation

If the system shuts off every time the water has accumulated in the pans, certainly your unit has a float operation. The filter has a simple working model. As the water accumulates in the pan, the float gets heavier up to the point when it triggers system shutdown.

If the float operation is faulty, it can trigger the system shutdown much earlier or too late, causing system malfunction. When it is too late, the water damage is likely to be significant. Similarly, if it is doing it too early, this can cause system inefficiency and general inconvenience.

You can manually check the float system to remove accumulated debris such as hair, dust, and fine fabric on the float. Such debris can prevent the float from doing its work efficiently. As usual, it is always best to have a technician check it instead of you. He or she can perform other diagnostic tests that will ensure that your cooling system is working well.

6. Infiltration of Humid Air

If your rooms are not properly insulated, humid air from wet rooms can infiltrate other rooms. Expect the humid air from there to find its way into the bedroom if your bedroom is near a bathroom. The portable AC unit in the bedroom will therefore fill up more quickly if this is the case.

The solution is to ensure that the room you are cooling is self-contained. Notably, close wet rooms such as laundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms when you are cooling other rooms. Also, close windows and doors when the AC unit is running. Otherwise, you will be trying to cool the whole neighborhood.

Cool one room at a time, and close the doors behind you every time you are leaving the room. This will prevent the system from accumulating water too fast, and it will give you a better cooling experience.

7. Faulty Air Conditioner

There is also a possibility that the air conditioner is faulty. Probably the evaporator coils are not working or any other part of the unit that deals with the condensate liquid. For a fully evaporative portable AC unit, water will generally not fill up unless there is something wrong with the evaporative elements or flow. A technician can do several diagnostic procedures to check if there is a faulty part. If there is a faulty part, the technician will repair or replace it.

Give your AC unit some time to see if it fills up with water at the same rate over a couple of days before calling a technician.

Final Thoughts

Portable air conditioners fill up with water quickly occasionally in humid areas, but if the problem persists, it is probably something wrong. You may need to call in an expert to check it.

He or she may check the condensate pan, float system, evaporation element, and condensate pump. Other reasons for water filling up include clogged air filters, a very humid indoor environment, or even poor insulation.

With a lifelong fascination with HVAC mechanics and a mechanical engineering degree from Berkeley, Thomas Johnson boasts years of industry expertise. He founded AirComfortLab.com to fill the void of understandable and useful online information about complex HVAC systems. As the chief editor, Thomas strives to provide accurate and engaging content to help readers make informed HVAC decisions.

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