portable air conditioner

My Portable AC Keeps (5 Pain in the A** Issues)

Does your portable air conditioner have a few issues that keep coming up regardless of how many times you think you have the problem resolved?

A portable air conditioner can be a very useful way to keep cool when you want the ability to move the AC from room to room.

But it is no secret that portable does not exactly mean convenient when you’re talking about an AC.

And the number of issues that can keep coming up with a portable air conditioner may make it seem like it’s not worth it in the first place.

Here is a list of some of the most popular issues that pop up with portable air conditioners.

1. Portable AC Keeps Turning Off

A portable air conditioner that keeps turning off is most likely getting too hot.
There are a few different reasons this could be happening.

a. Kink in the exhaust hose. If the exhaust hose is not positioned so that the heat expelling from the AC is not able to exhaust easily, heat will build up around the compressor eventually causing it to shut off.

Solution: Make sure the hose is not wound up or is kinked. Also, be sure that the hose is not being obstructed where the air exits.

b. Automatic shut-off is enabled. Make sure you don’t have the timer set to cut off the AC before you’re ready.

c. The temperature programmed into the thermostat has been reached.

d. Vent grates are clogged or obstructed.

The vents on the side of the AC are there to provide ventilation to the compressor and evaporative coil department inside the machine. If these get covered or clogged, the unit can overheat.

2. Portable Air Conditioner keeps filling up with water

All refrigerated air conditioners create condensation as the air is pulled across the cooling coils. That’s why there is a drain pan in the first place for the portable air conditioner.

If the pan keeps filling up with water, there are only a few things it could possibly be:

a. The air is extra humid. Humidity comes and goes and sometimes the humidity and the ambient air is extra high which means that you’re your portable AC is going to create that much more constant as it pulls the humidity out of the air.

b. Dry mode. Make sure that your unit is not in dry mode. Dry mode is specifically the dehumidification mode that extra humidity from the air. Sometimes the simplest answer is right in front of you. Maybe the thermostat has been changed to dry mode at some point and has gone unnoticed.

3. Broken mister. Most portable ACs evaporate the condensate at a rate that it is able to expel out the window along with the exhaust heat. If you have a portable AC that at one point never filled up with water, but now fills up quickly, there is probably a broken flinger that is not doing its job. Causing all the condensate to fill up the pan instead of being flung out the window.

3. Portable AC not cooling



a. Exhaust hose has come off either partially or all the way.
The exhaust air that is pumped out the window, as you know, is very hot and humid.
If the hose somehow comes unattached even partially, and you will have a mix of hot and cold air coming from the machine which will cancel the cool air.
b. Filter needs to be changed. The filter on an AC is the first place to look for just about every AC problem. If the filter is clogged, then there is no way for air to be pulled into the unit freely enough to condition the air and re-release it.
c. Exhaust hose is kinked or covered.
If the exhaust is not allowed to freely Flow away from the AC. The buildup of heat will cause diminished cooling.
d. Ventilation grates
The ventilation grates on the side and top of your portable AC are there to help cool the evaporative coil and compressor department.
If they are covered or gunked up, you will experience diminished cooling from your unit.
e. Faulty sensor
Portable air conditioners contain a sensor that measures the temperature of the air being pulled into the air conditioner so that the thermostat has a baseline to cool off of.
If the sensor goes bad or gets dirty, it can give a wrong reading that can either prevent your AC from getting cold enough or vice versa, making it too cold so that it freezes over.
If you’re a handy person, it’s not that hard of an operation to check the sensor. Otherwise, it’s not that hard to call a handyman over to check it for you.


GE Appliances 12,000 BTU 3-IN-1 Portable Air Conditioner

portable air conditioner keeps turning off4.Portable AC keeps freezing


a. Clean or replace the filter. A dirty filter will inhibit airflow. If the air is not capable of moving past the refrigerant coils fast enough, the humidity in the air will freeze instead of drain off.

b. Thermostat setting is too low.
If the thermostat is set too low, then the condensation that is supposed to drain or evaporate from the machine will freeze.
Solution: run the AC on the fan only to thaw out the coils.

c. High humidity
When you are experiencing higher than normal moisture in the air, the moisture in the air has a better chance of freezing before it is evaporated. This is especially so if you have a dirty filter.
Solution: run the unit on dry mode
The dehumidifier function (dry mode) is made to extract humidity out of the air faster.
Also when the humidity inside of the room is too high, often you will find that running the dehumidifier only is enough to bring the comfort of the room back to a decent spot.

6. Portable air conditioner keeps blowing the breaker.



a. A breaker shuts off when it is overloaded. That is the entire function of a breaker.

If the breaker is shutting off when the portable AC is started, there’s a good chance that you have too many appliances on one circuit.
Turning the breaker back on every time it snaps will cause it to eventually get to where it won’t stay on at all.

b. Unit is too small.

If the unit is too small you may find that it is running Non-Stop causing it to trip the breaker.

c. Turn the thermostat down

Turning the thermostat down may lessen the load on your breaker and allow the machine to keep running.

If you do not have an overloaded circuit and the AC continues to trigger the breaker, then you should call an electrician.

6.Portable AC keeps tripping the power strip.

Most surge protector power strips are not rated to be able to handle the startup of an AC. It is recommended that you never plug an AC into a power strip. Power strips are meant to be temporary solutions that are unplugged and stored afterward.

The same goes for using an extension cord with a portable AC. Most extension cords are not rated to be able to handle the surge of an AC compressor starting up. If you need to use an extension cord, be sure that it is rated to be able to handle a large appliance like an AC. 

Though a portable air conditioner can be a good idea when you want the convenience of being able to move an air conditioner from room to room, it’s important to remember that convenience doesn’t exactly mean “ease of use”.

Proper use, maintenance, and upkeep are the name of the game. As long as you keep your filter cleaned, the unit properly exhausted, and keep up with the drain, making sure the department isn’t filled and that it is not neglected to the point of growing mold, your unit should last a long time.

If window access is the primary reason that you’re thinking about purchasing a portable air conditioner, there are also evaporative portable air conditioners available that don’t require a window to vent out of. Just food for thought

Published by

Dennis Reed

Dennis Reed Owner and Author @ BreatheBetterAir.org