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Portable Air Conditioner Fills With Water Quickly: Why and How to Fix


If you are a portable air conditioner owner, chances are you have experienced the issue of your unit filling up with water quickly. This can be frustrating, as it prevents your portable AC from cooling your room effectively. Fortunately, there is an explanation and solutions available to help you easily fix this problem in no time!

How Much Water Should Come Out of a Portable AC?

Portable air conditioners are designed to produce small amounts of water as a result of condensation from the cooling process. This condensate is collected in an internal container for easy removal and disposal. Generally, portable air conditioners will produce between one and three pints of water per day, depending on the climate and overall usage.

Why Does My Portable AC Fill With Water Quickly?

Unfortunately, a number of issues can cause your portable air conditioner to fill with water quickly. It can be due to high humidity seasons, blocked drain pumps, or a frozen coil. It can even be due to a clogged filter, a faulty condensate pan, or the air conditioner itself. Here’s a rundown of the most common reasons behind portable air conditioners filling up with water fast.

New Portable Air Conditioner Unit

If you have recently purchased a new portable air conditioner, it may also be the case that your unit isn’t properly calibrated. New air conditioners will encounter humid air in the area it’s placed in. The high relative humidity can lead to excess moisture, resulting in your unit’s condensate pan filling quickly.

High Humidity

High humidity levels can have an effect on the condensation produced by your portable air conditioner unit. In very humid climates, the humidity levels can cause more water to accumulate in the AC unit than normal.

This is because extreme humidity tends to hold more moisture and as such, the air conditioner must work harder to cool it, resulting in more condensation. Before buying a portable AC, you may want to check the high average relative humidity in the area you live in. 

Additionally, many people disconnect their portable units during the cold weather. When the cooling season rolls around and the unit is turned on for the first time, a lot of moisture may have built up in the area the unit is in. This can lead to the water pan filling up fast.

Dirty Air Filters

A dirty air filter can also be a contributing factor to the issue of a portable AC filling up with water quickly. Dirty filters restrict the airflow for your unit, causing it to work harder than necessary and leading to more condensation being produced as a result.

Faulty Condensate Pump

A condensate pump is responsible for removing condensation from portable air conditioners and draining it away. If the condensate pump fails to do this properly, more water will accumulate in the portable AC which can lead to an overfilled water tank. If you have a condensate pump installed on your portable AC unit, it may be faulty or need replacing. It is also possible that the drain hose is also bent or blocked.

Faulty Evaporator Coil

Portable AC units are equipped with evaporating coils or cooling coils, and condenser coils or heating coils. During the condensation process, the air is cooled when it passes through the evaporator coils. These coils are also capable of drawing moisture from the surrounding air.

In some cases, a faulty evaporator coil can be the culprit behind your portable air conditioner filling up with water quickly. As evaporator coils are responsible for cooling the refrigerant used in an AC unit, if they become damaged or corroded, this can lead to condensation build-up that may overflow into your unit’s water tank.

Plugged Drain Holes

In addition to the above, plugged drain holes can also be a cause for concern. If your air conditioner has been in storage for some time, it is possible that dust and dirt have accumulated around the drainage holes and blocked them from draining efficiently.

Faulty Water Level Indicator

The water level indicator or wet switch of your device is in charge of determining the actual water level in the water container of your air conditioning unit. The water level indicator can malfunction and give you an inaccurate signal.

Faulty Blower Fan

The water tray of your air conditioner unit can fill up quickly if the blower fan is faulty. A slow-running fan can prevent the device from releasing enough heat, resulting in overheating. Ice can accumulate on the coils and this can cause the portable AC compressor to temporarily shut down until the ice melts away completely. When the ice melts, the pan can fill up with water at a quick pace.

Faulty Air Conditioner

Finally, it is possible that the portable air conditioner unit itself may be faulty or not set up correctly. If your portable AC is malfunctioning in any way, this can lead to excess condensation and cause your unit to fill with water quickly.

How to Fix a Portable Air Conditioner That Fills With Water Quickly

Now that you know the possible causes for your portable air conditioner filling with water quickly, let’s take a look at some solutions.

Reduce Humid Air

Your air conditioner cools your home by removing excess moisture and heat. Living in an area with high humidity means that your unit works harder, and it is pretty normal for the water pan to fill up fast. You don’t have to uproot yourself from there and transfer to non-humid areas just to make your portable AC work. There are several things that you can do. 

If your condensate pan fills with water fast due to humidity, you can manually empty the excess water in the pan once an hour. To do that, remove the drain plug and allow the unit to drain into an empty container. Once the air indoors cools down, the unit will start to collect less water as the humidity has been regularized.

Another thing that you can do is run a dehumidifier in the same room as your AC unit. It can help keep the humidity levels low and also help not strain your unit.

If you’re at the stage where you’re just about to buy a portable AC and worried about the humidity affecting your unit, don’t worry because you still have options. Consider portable AC units that have a built-in self-evaporative technology instead of units that are partially evaporative. Portable ACs that have self-evaporation technology can automatically remove most of the humidity through the exhaust hose. 

Another option is to get a unit that can run to a floor drain so that you don’t have to empty your unit every time the water tray fills up. Last but not least, you can also switch to a window air conditioner so that it can drain continuously outside of the window and you won’t have to bother with the water filling up fast.

Clean Air Filters

The first thing to do is clean your unit’s dirty air filter. A clean air filter will allow more airflow in and out of the portable air conditioner unit, reducing strain on the system and allowing it to run more efficiently. Cleaning the dirty filter should also reduce the amount of condensation produced by the air conditioner, thus reducing the rate at which it fills with water.

Check Condensate Pump and Drain Hose

If you have a condensate pump installed on your portable air conditioner, make sure that it is functioning correctly. Normally, the condensate water pump directs the water in the pan to your desired location. If it is not draining away excess water properly, it can cause the water tank to fill up more quickly.

Always check the condensate line before and after running the pump. Make sure that the drain hose is not blocked or bent so that it won’t stop the route of the water. 

Clean Drain Holes

If your unit has been in storage, it is possible that dirt and dust have accumulated around the drain holes of your portable AC. Cleaning the drain hole regularly will help keep them free from blockages and allow for proper drainage of condensate from the unit.

Check Evaporator Coil

If your cooling coils are corroded or otherwise damaged, it can reduce the efficiency of your portable AC and lead to excess condensation production. If you think this may be the case with your unit, replace the coil to ensure that it is cooling properly.

Check Portable AC

Finally, if all else fails, it may be worth checking the portable AC unit itself for any faults or incorrect settings, especially if it concerns the blower fans or the water level indicator. If your unit is malfunctioning in any way, this can lead to condensation build-up and cause it to fill with water quickly.

If your unit is under warranty, you can take it to the manufacturer and once diagnosed, they may replace it with the exact same model and kind of device.

Final Thoughts

If your portable air conditioner fills with water quickly, it can be tricky to deal with, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t know much about air conditioners. If you encounter this problem, don’t despair as you don’t have to throw your portable unit away just yet. 

Portable air conditioners with this problem can be fixed by first diagnosing and addressing any underlying issues. Once you have assessed why your portable air conditioner fills with water quickly, you should be able to restore it back to good health. 

Be sure to regularly clean the air filter, check the condensate pump, clean the drain holes, and check the evaporator coils and air conditioner unit itself. Once you’ve got it all figured out, you should find that your portable air conditioner is functioning as it should be in no time. Good luck!

JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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