How To Drain An Air Conditioner (And How Often?)

Have you ever wondered why your air conditioning unit collects water? And where does it come from? Since water is the issue here, we would like to share our thoroughly researched answers regarding the ways to drain your air conditioners and how often you should do it.

The ways of draining air conditioners may vary on their types. Portable air conditioners will need a drain hose or a condensate pump. Meanwhile, window types will need to use gauze. And ductless mini-split drains, with the use of a drainpipe. 

If you attempt to ignore your air conditioner and do not plan to drain it regularly, it may result in total damage. It will shut off and probably not going to switch on again. So, if you do not want this to happen, we suggest you keep reading throughout the article for more helpful answers and information.

Drainage piping for condensed water attached to the air conditioner, How To Drain An Air Conditioner? (And How Often)


Draining An Air Conditioner

Firstly, you must know that there are eight different types of air conditioners. But we are going to use in this post the ones people mostly use for their homes, such as the Portable AC, Window AC, and the Ductless Mini-split AC.

You can drain an air conditioner between every 6 to 8 hours and can even reach several weeks. Draining your air conditioning unit will depend upon how frequently you use it. And another factor that can affect the evaporation of water is the humidity of your area.

1. Portable AC

Portable air conditioner in room on the wooden floor

Portable air conditioners are trending nowadays since you can just put them anywhere you want.  There are two types of portable air conditioners. One, the partially self-evaporative. Two, the fully self-evaporative.

What Are Partially Evaporative ACs?

Most of the air conditioning units are partially evaporative. This kind of air conditioner evaporates a large amount of water. But it can't be avoided that there is still some moisture that needs to be unloaded from time to time.

The water or moisture that the air conditioner collects depends on the humidity of your environment. And the easiest way to get rid of the water in your partially evaporative air conditioner is to do it manually. That is to say, all you need to do is detach the drain plug from the AC and allow it to drain in an empty container.

Well, there are two more options for you to drain your partially self-evaporative AC. You can buy and use either one of the two below.

Drain Hose

Plastic drain pipe

If you want to save money and make the draining process easy, you'll have to buy a drain hose. All you need to do is attach the drain hose to the air conditioning unit and run it to another location. There are just selected units that are allowed to do this option.

Although you must keep in mind that drain hoses rely on gravity to move water, they can't move vertically or through the window. And it is typically used for basements with floor drains.

Check this Universal Air Conditioner Drain Hose on Amazon.

Condensate Pump

Using a condensate pump is the most versatile option that you can consider. Without the use of gravity, you can drain water up and out of your air conditioning unit.

Most people set their condensate pump through the window to guide the water outside.

Click here to see this Automatic Condensate Pump on Amazon.

What Are Fully Evaporative ACs?

These are the types of air conditioning units that remove all collective moisture. As a result, there are no water build-ups inside the unit. And this will only mean one thing, fully evaporative air conditioners don't need to drain.

2. Window AC

Air conditioning unit sticking out a window

Window air conditioners, nowadays, don't have drain plugs or drain holes to remove water. And most of them produce water that drips down the drain pan which is located at the base of the unit.

If the window air conditioner is having a hard time or taking too long to remove water from the drain pan, we need to help it drain better. And all you need to prepare is a piece of gauze and a fork.

Insert the gauze to the back bottom part of the air conditioner, where you can see the water building up from the drain pan. Using the fork, insert the gauze vertically, let the half part hang freely, and spread it widely. After inserting it, you will notice that the water is streaming down from where the gauze is hanging.

3. Ductless Mini-Split AC

Mini-split ductless air conditioning unit installed in unfinished room

A drain pipe is what the mini-split air conditioner has for draining and needs a gravity flow to work well.

The highest point of a drain pipe is the inlet which encourages the condensate water to flow on it. There are some instances that the inlet is not at the highest point. In that case, we need a drain pump to assist the draining process of the condensate water.

Why Does My AC Collect Water?

Water leaking from the air conditioner drips from the cooler

As the air cools, the air conditioner drops its capability to hold and carry a large amount of water. So, the excess and unwanted moisture are piled-up in your air conditioner. And as the moistness builds up, some of this is automatically evaporated and freed through the exhaust hose.

Why Can't You Drain Water From Your AC?

There are two possibilities why there is no water coming out from your air conditioner. First, there is an over-cooling. The evaporator coils are frozen. Second, if you have a condensation pump, it must have been damaged. Check them immediately before they leave your air conditioner in total damage.

Why Does the Evaporator Coils Freeze?

  • The air filter must be dirty. If it is, this will restrict the airflow to the air conditioner's system. And if the filter is clogged, the evaporator coil will be very much affected since there is a chance for a dirt build-up.
  • Dirty evaporator coil. If this happens, it will have a hard time drawing in the heat from the air inside your home. And since it can't absorb heat, this will result in having a cold and freezing coil.
  • The system airflow is inadequate. If there is no adequate air blowing over the evaporator coil, the heat absorbed won't be enough as well and will lead to coil freezing.
  • If the system doesn't have enough refrigerant, it will not function well. And it is mostly caused by either an incorrect refrigerant charge or a leak. A frozen evaporator coil leads to a low refrigerant problem.

What Will Happen If My Condensate Pump Fails?

If your air conditioning unit won't turn on, that is the sign that the condensate pump is not working. To clarify, the air conditioner shuts off to put a stop to the condensate pump's water bucket from overflowing. Depending on its severity, the condensate pump either needs repair or replacement.

Why Does It Drain So Much Water?

Check the air conditioner's condensate line if it is clogged since this can damage the air handler. And if you see that the line is clogged, use a wet and dry vacuum cleaner to suck the clog out.

If you want to maintain it, we suggest that you put 1/3-cup of vinegar down the condensate line every month.

One more factor that may affect the draining process is the drain pan. Its responsibility is to catch the humidity and all the excess water that has been removed from the air. In other words, it ensures that the water is safely thrown outside your home.

Why Is It Important To Drain Your Air Conditioner?

  1. To avoid the overflowing of the condensate pump.
  2. Draining is important to keep away the mold and germs build-up from your air conditioner.
  3. To prevent damaging the whole system of the air conditioner.
  4. We must avoid refrigerant leaks.
  5. You don't want to keep repairing and replacing your air conditioning unit.
  6. To shun clogging on the drainage pipes and condensate lines.

In Closing

To sum up, one of the most necessary maintenance for your air conditioning unit is the draining process. If you tend to ignore draining it, you must expect total damage. And we know you do not like that to happen. Therefore, we are encouraging you to follow the steps mentioned in this article to help your air conditioner drain better.

Always clean and help your air conditioning units drain better. And one thing you must keep in mind is that proper preparation prevents poor performance.

If you liked this post, you might want to check these helpful related articles as well:

Why Is My Air Conditioner Blowing Out Water?

Air Conditioner Fan Not Running – What Could Be Wrong?

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