How To Maintain A Portable Air Conditioner

Every home appliance needs routine check-ups to ensure optimum performance, efficiency, and longevity. No exception with a portable AC that requires a great deal of attention. In this post, we will go through the process of how to maintain a portable air conditioner properly, so you will not be slapped with a hefty repair bill cost in the near future. Let's begin.


1. Clean The Exterior Routinely

The exterior of the portable air conditioner should be clean every 3-4 weeks, or there is visible dust that could obstruct the ventilation. Switch off the unit and use a soft, damp cloth like microfiber to clean the surface. Avoid using abrasive chemicals or harsh detergents, as they may stain and damage the AC exterior. If the outside is dusty, there could be dust trapped inside the components as well. Have them clean thoroughly on parts that are reachable.

2. Maintain Or Replace The Filter

As an air purifier, the filter is an instrumental part of an air conditioner. Air filters in a portable AC require cleaning or replacing routinely. First thing first, switch off and carefully remove the dirty filter from the AC without denting or tearing it. Next, check what type of filter you are dealing with. If it is a HEPA or activated carbon filter, it should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s suggested interval. Only buy the filters from a direct source or authorized dealer. You may refer to the manual for the filter reference code.

If it is a permanent filter that is washable and reusable, you can gently vacuum out the collected dust particles. For stubborn contaminants that are hard to remove, soak the filter in lukewarm water with some mild soap and use a soft brush to remove the clingy contaminants. Rinse it thoroughly and let the filter room dry before placing it back on the portable AC. Do it every 2-4 weeks or when you see a dip in the AC cooling circulation. Doing so extends the pre-filter usage life and protects the AC internal component from being damaged by foreign pollutants.

3. Place The Portable AC In A Clean Area

Portable air conditioners are renowned for their flexibility for room-to-room air cooling, but that does not mean the device can be used in any place. You should not use the portable AC in a dusty environment, as dirty airborne particulates could build up and damage the internal parts. The same goes for a high-humidity area. Excess moisture encourages the growth of mold spores, mildew, and other microorganisms that can prevent the portable AC from functioning properly.

Ensure the room is clean by vacuuming or having an air purifier standing by before running the portable air conditioner. Open windows and doors or get a dehumidifier to keep the room humidity level down between 30-50%. The higher the dampness, the more effort the AC needs to cool the air.

4. Store The Portable AC When Not using It

There are times when you will not use the portable air for an extended period e.g. during fall and winter. Rather than leaving the AC open to collect dust and external elements like moisture, temperature changes, and sunlight, store it safely in a storeroom to maintain its pristine condition. Choose a storage area with an even room temperature and humidity level that does not promote the growth of biological pollutants. Before attempting to store it, clean the portable AC, including the filter and reservoir (if there are any). Run the AC in the fan mode for 30 minutes before storing. Wrap the power cord with a tape or loop plastic tag to prevent mice from chewing on the wire. Covering the portable air conditioner with a cloth or plastic sheets can significantly reduce dust, mold, and other microbes. If you still have the original box, pack it back in the upright position.

5. Routinely Check On The Condenser Coils

The condenser coils are the heart of the AC. It is a vital component that affects cooling efficiency and is vulnerable to damage. As we strongly emphasize proactive maintenance and care, inspect the condenser coils for freezing, dent, or dust/ grime accumulation problem once a month.

Use a comb condenser coil to strengthen any bent fins. If it is plagued with freezing/ice-up issues, avoid running the portable AC at a cold temperature. For clogging on the coils, ensure the initial filter is in good condition to prevent future particles from passing through. Condenser coils are costly to repair or replace as you will need a certified technician to do so. Consider getting a brand new unit if the scope of repair is beyond reasonable.

6. Use The Original Exhaust Hose

Most portable air conditioners come with an exhaust hose to release the hot air outside. It is typically short and straight, designed specifically for the model cooling output. Avoid using a stretched third-party exhaust hose because it might affect the AC performance effectiveness or inflow water vapor. Instead, move the portable AC close to the window or ventilation so you can stick with the original, unmodified hose.

7. Drain The Collected Water

As mentioned earlier, some portable air conditioners like Honeywell MO08CESWK come with an optional water tank that collects water from the air during condensation. We recommend emptying the water tank every day or when it is full to prevent mold and bacteria from growing inside. If there is a musty smell or mold patches spotted in the reservoir, stop using the AC and use natural agents like vinegar and baking soda to remove the pathogens. Essential oils or hydrogen peroxide will help maintain as well. Wash and rinse the bucket until it is squeaky clean before resuming the cooling operation.

Final Thoughts

By following our maintenance guides above, it is almost a certainty that your portable air conditioner will run smoothly and efficiently with minimum issues to go through. As a generalization, a portable air conditioner should be maintained at least twice a year, namely before and end of the summer season. When all things fail, hire a professional air cooling technician to look into the PAC and see if the problem can be resolved. While you might receive an expensive repair bill, it beats maintaining a broken device that will not function properly. Remember, Preventive measure is better than reactive repairs!

Max Fernandez

A loving father and a dedicated reviewer for airfuji.com with more than 1000 air purifiers under his belt. Max Fernandez is also one of the million patients currently suffering from asthma. Feel free to nudge him if you have any questions.