How often do you have to drain a portable air conditioner [Frequency it needs to be done]

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During the cooling/dehumidifying process, some water is typically extracted (from the air) into portable air conditioners.

And while models automatically release nearly all of the collected moisture through its exhaust hose (thanks to the self-evaporation technology), others- especially the older partially evaporative models- need you to drain the reservoir manually quite often to enjoy continued cooling.

So how often do you have to drain a portable air conditioner during normal conditions? – and when should you worry (you may feel that it is filling with water unusually quickly)..

Learn what frequency is standard in most cases along with what to do to take the hassle out of manual draining.

How often do you have to drain a portable air conditioner – Basics & Beyond

How often do you have to drain a portable air conditioner?

In general, standard portable ACs have reservoirs that need to be drained every 8 hours- Note that this varies and some units need to be drained only once a month

Truth is, you can have your portable run for weeks – even when it’s really humid- without needing to be emptied so perhaps the most accurate answer would be “it depends”.

So, what determines how often (where draining is required)?

Well, the primary factors are the size of its bucket, specific model, settings, and climate (particularly your humidity).

Let us now look at how each of these considerations impacts the rate at which water is being produced (and the drainage situation):

1.      Climate

If the area you live in is excessively humid (for extended periods), water may build up in the water collection tank too quickly to be recycled.

If this is you, we suggest that you consider setting up a continuous drain (more on this later).

2.      Settings

Wrong temperature settings could also contribute to increased condensation because they overwork the AC which means it may need to be drained more often.

The best solution is to set it to the maximum temperature that will still make you feel cool- recall that your AC has to work harder and harder for every degree of temperature you need it to drop.

3.      Usage

How you use the AC also matters.

What you should know is this: the bucket is likely to be continuously getting full if the unit is consistently running around the clock in super hot days.

Still on settings, if you’re using a device that has a built-in heater (such as some Hisense portable AC models), it tends to collect much more water in heat mode as it works much faster.


Setting up a continuous drain

The good news is that most portable ACs could support the attaching of an aftermarket drain hose that drains water continuously saving you from manual emptying (you leave it attached).

It’s worth mentioning that a drain hose is the way to go when you use the AC in locations such as basements because of the floor drain.

To set up continuous (gravity) drainage:

  1. First, drain the unit (follow the instructions in your owner’s manual).
  2. Measure your drain port opening then purchase a hose with the correct width (or thread type) to secure it to your unit’s drainage port- You can use a regular garden hose in place of a drain hose in some cases.
  3. Identify an ideal drainage location to route the drain hose to and direct it to this location (be sure to position the hose as straight as you can). Also, check that the hose goes downhill since the drainage is facilitated by gravity.

Quick Tips:

  • Buy screw hose clamps – they will ensure a water tight fit.
  • To work properly, the hose should be long enough and sturdy.

Watch how to setup a continuous drain for an LG portable air conditioner in the video below



Portable air conditioner drain hose size (What is the best size?)



Installing a small condensate pump

Where you desire continuous drainage but gravity-reliant drain source is unavailable

There are also condensate pumps that pump collected water outside (through a drain hose) and it is the way to go for locations where a floor drain is not available.


Buy this little condensate pump, and a drain hose that is long enough depending on your needs.

All you have to do now is follow the instructions that come with the pump.

If done right, your AC will be dumping the condensate into the pump, which will in turn be sending it outside to your preferred location automatically.

How often do you have to drain a portable air conditioner – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often do you have to drain a Toshiba portable air conditioner?

It can range from once every few hours to just once every couple of days (it can even operate for longer without overflowing).

Here is a reminder: How fast it fills up comes down mainly to the issue of climate (your humidity) again.

How often do you have to drain a Hisense portable air conditioner?

There is no specific frequency and it generally depends on the humidity on the day.

That being so, sometimes you may have to do it once every day while there are times it will go for months without filling up.

I should add that you may find it needs emptying every few hours (on days it gets overwhelmed by tons of humidity)

How often do you have to drain a Black + Decker Portable Air Conditioner?

Black + Decker Portable Air Conditioner is typically equipped with the futuristic MIST technology so the water tank almost never fills.

For that reason, you may only need to drain the water at the end of summer (in preparation for storage).

That said, the MIST technology is not functional when the AC is running in HEAT mode hence the tank may require occasional emptying.

Why is my AC producing so much water?

Here are some possible reasons:

  • If your room has a high-humidity level especially during high humidity months, your AC will tend to extra hard to cool down the air resulting into it collecting excess water.
  • Your drain could also be blocked, perhaps by organic growth……and you might know that it’s a common issue during  high humidity months in some regions…so try to clear the clogging/blockage(suck out any blockage).         
  • The exhaust tube isn’t connected (for new installations)-check if the exhaust pipe is hooked up.


How often do you need to drain a portable air conditioner (how often do you have to empty a portable air conditioner) – recap

For the most part, if there is tons of humidity, your unit will need to be emptied every 8 hours.

But as mentioned, it is best to connect a drain hose for automatic draining- it will give you peace of mind.

Good luck.


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