Portable Air Conditioner Maintenance: A Complete Guide

Do you want to keep your portable air conditioner running like new? While it may seem like a luxury, a portable air conditioner won’t get you too far if you don’t take proper care of it. Proper portable air conditioner maintenance can improve the life and efficiency of your unit.

This guide will show you what a portable air conditioner unit is, why it’s a great choice for cooling your home, and practical tips for portable air conditioner maintenance. Keep reading to learn how you can take better care of your AC unit so it lasts for many years.

What is a Portable Air Conditioner?

A portable air conditioner is a unit that you can move from room to room in your house to cool the different areas. You do not need to do any permanent installation as these are self-contained systems. 

You will need to place the unit close to a window or wall for proper ventilation. You will also need to set up an exhaust hose for venting.

Why Use a Portable Air Conditioner?

Installing a central air system is costly. Heating and cooling can account for more than 50% of a household’s utility bills. People who want to save money are turning toward portable air conditioner units.

A portable air conditioner is easy to install and take care of. They can even be quieter than a regular air conditioner

People love that they can easily move the units from room to room. This way, you can make sure whichever room of the house you’re in is nice and cool.

10 Tips for Proper Portable Air Conditioner Maintenance

You want to take care of it to make it last for years. Get the most from your air conditioning unit by ensuring proper care and maintenance for it. Here are a few tips for portable air conditioner maintenance: 

1. Location

When you decide on a cooling unit, determine where you’ll install and use it. Where you place the air conditioner is key to its longevity.

There are a few things to think about when considering where to place the unit. Of course, where you place it depends on the size of your unit.

Areas that are dusty or dirty will not be good for the unit. You want to avoid letting dust get into the fan motors, so as not to clog and contaminate its bearings. Too much dust in the unit can cause electrical and mechanical issues.

If you can’t avoid placing the unit in a dusty area, an antimicrobial filter will help capture the impurities. Consider using one as part of your portable air conditioner maintenance strategy.

If you place the air conditioning unit in a more humid room, use caution as you’ll be draining the excess moisture the unit absorbs. If you have to drain the unit often, a drain tube may be a good idea to transfer excess liquid into a bucket before you get around to emptying it. The other option is to manually disconnect the unit and drain it outside.

Also, consider how close your air conditioner is to a window. You’ll want it to be close to a window for venting purposes. If a window is not an option, a ceiling tile or glass door may work well as a venting outlet as well.

While you don’t have to permanently install a portable air conditioner, you need to be able to vent the condensed hot air out of the room. Most portable air conditioners will include a venting kit. The venting kit allows you to slide the vent hose into a window, fitting the exhaust hose into the window space.

You’ll also want to place your air conditioner close to a power source, which is needed to run the unit.

2. Power Source

The air conditioner should be operated from a circuit that supplies 120VAC at a minimum of 15A. This supply gives the compressor and fan motors enough start-up power. If your circuit isn’t producing that much, you might hit a fuse or power shortage.

An electrical surge preventer is another power source to consider. It helps save time and money if you experience a power surge.

Many portable AC users make the mistake of keeping their unit close to a high-powered television, sound system, computer, or hard drives. Your portable unit should be kept about 10-15 away from these energy-sucking devices.

3. Filter Maintenance

Proper portable air conditioner maintenance includes cleaning your filters regularly. This helps your filters last longer and allows them to clean the air more efficiently. Follow the instructions that come with the filters you buy for your air conditioner. 

Clean the unit’s pre-filter as well. This is usually located in the upper read part of the unit. You don’t want dirt to form in the pre-filter.

When too much dirt is gathered in the pre-filter, your coil will fail to transfer heat properly. This can lead to overheating. Avoid using detergents and soaps when you’re cleaning your filters because then can cause clogging and residue.

If your unit has a carbon filter, part of your portable air conditioner maintenance is to change it out every three to six months. Clean the rear vents with a vacuum brush attachment regularly as well.

Clean or replace your filters on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, depending on how much you use the portable air conditioner. A regular cleaning schedule will ensure your unit’s longevity.

4. Exhaust Hose

Keep your exhaust hose straight and short when installing it. This prevents moisture from getting inside of the hose and getting back into the unit. That may damage or shorten the life of your portable air conditioning unit. 

Refrain from extending the hose to its maximum length or kinking it in any way. Check the exhaust hose every now and then to make sure no excess moisture is gathering inside of it. Make it part of your portable air conditioner maintenance routine to check the exhaust hose on a regular basis.

5. Proper Storage

Storing your air conditioner correctly can get you more use out of it. Before storing the unit, fully drain the moisture that has gathered inside of it. Then, put the unit on the high-speed fan setting for a couple hours to get the interior as dry as possible.

Another option is to place a plastic sheet over the unit to keep it from gathering too much dirt or dust. When you’re not using the unit, store it in a dry, cool place for the best portable air conditioner maintenance.

Avoid storing your portable air conditioner in an attic or garage. Rather, store it in a closet or another place that is less exposed to excessive heat or cold. You don’t want to subject your unit to freezing conditions.

If you have a unit with a built-in heater function, practice the same kind of portable air conditioner maintenance year-round. 

6. Clean the Exterior

Think of the portable air conditioner maintenance as part of your regular cleaning routine. If you’re doing a regular dusting and house-cleaning, take the time to clean the air conditioner as well. 

To clean the exterior of your portable air conditioner, turn it off and wipe it with a clean, damp cloth. Use only the cloth and refrain from using any chemicals or detergents when wiping the exterior. These can be harsh and damaging to your unit. 

Keep your portable air conditioner out of direct sunlight so the surface doesn’t shift colors. These tips will help keep the exterior of your air conditioner unit in tip-top shape.

7. Professional Portable Air Conditioner Maintenance

If you’re having your HVAC unit serviced, it might not hurt to ask the service technician to ensure your portable air conditioner is in good shape as well. While you can do many portable air conditioner maintenance practices yourself with no problem, some problems may need a professional. Let an experienced HVAC technician take a look at your unit.

A professional can see how good you’re doing a practicing proper portable air conditioner maintenance. They can also give you more tips based on your specific unit.

Having a professional technician take a look can even bring awareness to problems that you didn’t know existed with your unit. This can save you time, money and stress down the road.

8. Condensor Coils

Clean the condenser coils of your unit as a big part of your portable air conditioner maintenance routine. Clean any grime, dirt, or grease away from your unit’s condenser coils. This will ensure that your portable air conditioner will work more efficiently.

Every now and then, take a look at the air conditioner’s condenser coils. When they’re looking grimy, clean them with a store-bought coil-cleaner to bring them back to well again. 

Another option is to use an acidic solution. Make this solution from a mixture of water and either lemon juice or vinegar. To clean the coils, spray the mixture onto the coils and let it sit for some time to wipe out the dust and debris.

How to Clean Your Portable Air Conditioner

Now that you know the basics of proper maintenance, here’s a step-by-step process to follow. Doing this on a regular basis will keep your portable air conditioner running like new when you need it during the hot summer months. 

To get the most use out of your portable air conditioner unit, clean the air filters at least once a month if not bi-monthly. Not cleaning the filters may cost you more money. If a unit has a dirty filter, it has to work harder and use more electricity to cool the air.

Aim to clean your portable air conditioner twice a year. Both at the beginning of the summer and at the end, give the unit a thorough cleaning. This will help it run as efficiently as possible.

Cleaning the unit is crucial to portable air conditioner maintenance. Here are our step-by-step instructions for cleaning your unit:

1. Unplug and Drain

Unplug the unit and drain the water before cleaning it. While the air conditioner is cooling, it removes water from the air. The moisture is then collected in the unit and must be emptied regularly. 

2. Fan Mode

Run the unit on fan mode to dry out the inside of the unity. This prepares the unit for a thorough cleaning. The inside should be dry after about two hours.

3. Remove Filter

Remove the filter and any loose dirt and dust particles. Tap the filter lightly with your hands to collect the loose dirt and dust particles.

Remove the carbon or HEPA filter if your unit uses one of those as well. Refer to the manufacturer’s directions as to whether you should replace or clean those filters.

4. Clean Filter

Rinse the air filter to remove the dust and dirt. Place the filter in warm water to give it a thorough cleaning. Then, air dry the filter and move it aside while you clean the rest of the unit.

5. Clean Air Intake Vents

Use a handheld vacuum or hose attachment to clean out the air intake vents.

6. Acidic Solution on Cooling Coils

Spray any kind of acidic solution directly onto the cooling coils. You can use any kind of cleaner from your local grocery store or make your own solution with lemon or lime juice or vinegar, and water. Let the solution settle on the coils for 15 minutes before replacing the air filter.

7. Clean the Exterior

Wipe down the outside housing of the portable air conditioner unit. It can get dirty, so use a soft, damp cloth to wipe it down. Again, avoid using abrasive cleaners or detergents.

8. Store the Unit

If your portable air conditioner doesn’t have a built-in heater option, store it away for the cold season. Remember to keep it in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight.

Check Out Our Portable Air Conditioner Reviews

Cleaning and caring for your portable air conditioner is so easy that you may just want to go out and buy one right now. It’s important to do your research before purchasing a portable AC unit. Check out our reviews first so you can rest assured knowing you’ve bought the right product.

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