What to Do When Your Portable Air Conditioner Is Leaking Water

Portable air conditioners are a great convenience for outdoor spaces or rental apartments where you can’t install other air conditioning. However, portable units often face leakage issues owing to a number of issues. 

It’s very common for your portable AC unit to leak water and the reason can be the development of different faults within the unit. Drainage issues, dirty air filters, clogging, and other causes can be rectified with routine maintenance and checks for your portable AC unit.

Before you can fix your AC leak, it is vital to understand that a leak in your AC unit could mean several things. From overuse to lack of component detection, a faulty plug or a clogged line – there could be many reasons why your device is leaking. 

What to Do When Your Portable Air Conditioner Is Leaking Water

In this article, you’ll explore everything you need to know to troubleshoot your leaking AC unit and fix it. To make your fix easy, let’s start out by understanding a little more about the drainage system of portable air conditioners.


Portable AC Drainage Types

To identify issues with a leak, the first step is to understand the drainage type of your unit. If yours is a portable AC unit, it can have either a manual or an automatic drain. 

Manual Drain

With a manual drain system, your AC unit will store moisture in the condensate tank that will need to be emptied manually from time to time. Your portable AC also carries out the task of dehumidification, which is likely to be hindered if it’s really humid and your tank isn’t emptied out regularly.

Automatic Drain

If yours is an automatic drain, it would be directly connected to your utility system. The unit uses a drainage hose to directly remove the collected moisture from the unit or an exhaust hose in some cases that will evaporate the extra moisture collected. In these cases, the tank will be emptied readily and you don’t need to worry about cleaning it out.

However, in case of faults within the unit, overworking of the unit or accumulation of excess moisture, more than the system is able to eject out automatically, leaks are frequently observed. 

Thus, before you begin troubleshooting, begin by understanding the drainage type your portable AC unit uses. Depending on the type of your unit, you can understand the reason for the leak and problem solve accordingly. 

Steps to troubleshoot your Portable AC Leak


What to look for when your Manual Drainage AC Unit leaks?

When you first notice drips or dampening around your portable AC unit, follow these steps to troubleshoot for a manual drainage unit:

  1. Unplug the stop and drain out the water. This might be the simplest fix in case you have just overused the unit recently or the moisture levels are increasingly high.
  2. Once the container is drained out, also proceed to check for any signs of rusting or damage on the unit itself. If it has been leaking for long, chances are some holes or rust marks might be visible.
  3. The leak itself could be due to overflowing from extreme humidity or clogged drain lines. It could also occur continuously even after draining due to the rust holes or cracks developed in your unit.
  4. In case of no structural deformities and apparent overflow issues, you need to check the float detector. The float detector or float sensor works to cut off electricity supply and auto-shut the unit when the water container is full. This is what typically prevents overflowing. 
  5. Uneven or slanted water levels can cause the float detector to be inaccurate and cause overflowing. Blockage with dirt and other internal problems can cause the float sensor to fault as well. These issues can be fixed with a cleanup or repair.
  6. Another reason for overflow issues can be climate conditions in your area. Overflow can also occur as a result of overuse of your portable AC unit or extended periods of outdoor use. This issue is easily fixable with more frequent draining of the drainage container of your unit depending on how quickly it is getting filled up in the current conditions. 


What to look for when your Automatic Drainage AC Unit leaks?

If yours is an automatic drainage AC unit, there might be issues with the drain line that is causing your unit to leak. Here are some steps you can follow to check for issues with your unit:

  1. A clogged line or fault plug of the drain line can often cause your unit to leak. Check if the line is sealed promptly, if not, you can simply realign the plug to cover the drain line well. 
  2. In case there is dirt and other foreign particles blocking your drain line, the clogging can cause the unit to leak. Water gets retained in the debris and drips or leaks might occur. You can simply use a thin wire to remove the debris blocking the line or use a chemical powder cleaner to clean out the blockage.
  3. In some cases, overuse or just wear and tear over a period of time can cause the drain line to develop holes thereby causing leaks. You can use plumbing seals to reinforce these areas or replace the line altogether. 

Leading causes of Portable AC unit leaking water

Now that you know the entire troubleshoot protocol for understanding drainage leaks in your portable AC unit, let’s have a look at some other leading causes that could be more difficult to spot.


  • Some leaks are also caused due to structural damages. Your water container might have rust damages or holes leading to a drip. This issue might require a proper repair to be carried out where the faulty areas are patched up.
  • The coolant in the coils which is the AC unit’s refrigerant might also cause leaks as well as cooling issues for your unit. This issue is more serious and can require repair or even replacement. If your unit is well within warranty you’re lucky! 
  • Lastly, it might also be that extended use has caused the filter in your AC unit to become dirty. The blocked filter hinders the evaporation process and, thus, the condensation seeps through in the form of constant leaks. Keep cleaning your filter regularly to keep this issue in check.


Tips to prevent your Portable AC from Leaking

While it is always good to know the working of your portable air conditioner and understand how a leak can be quickly fixed before it causes permanent damage to your unit, it is always better to prevent leaks. Here are some tips and best practices that you can keep in mind to maintain your portable AC unit well:


  • Clogged and blocked parts can cause AC leaks and affect the healthy functioning of your AC unit in general. Make sure you clean your unit regularly and conduct deep cleans with chemical cleaners periodically to make sure no clogs persist.
  • Carry out routine maintenance for your unit even when you observe a delay in cooling, minor drips and other issues. These can help prevent major faults in the unit and ensure minor fixes as they occur.
  • Finally, it is always advisable to make sure you protect your unit from climate factors and overuse. Dirt, humidity and mold are climate centered factors that can not only affect the functioning of the unit but also adversely affect the quality of air you breathe in. Regular maintenance rounds can help solve these issues well.