Understanding Portable Air Conditioners And How To Keep Them Working Well All Summer Long


When the summer months begin approaching, many people think of school vacation, laying by the pool, and Fourth of July picnics. And, in most parts of the country, people also think about keeping cool when the heat becomes sweltering. For those people who need additional home cooling, portable air conditioner units are an option to consider. However, for a portable air conditioner to work at its best, it should be used in the correct location, sealed, and properly maintained. Below is more information on how you can maximize your portable air conditioner's performance and stay cool all summer long:

Understand the role

It's important to keep in mind that portable air conditioners are not as powerful as window-mounted units or central air conditioning systems. They sacrifice some performance for the capability to be quickly moved from one location to another. That's why portable air conditioners are ideal as an extra source of cooling for hot spots in your home; they work best in a role of augmenting existing air conditioning. However, you can greatly increase the effectiveness of portable air conditioners by implementing a few specific measures discussed below.

Seal the gaps

Portable air conditioners from companies like Redlands Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning use an exhaust hose to shed the warm, moist air that is extracted from the interior. The exhaust hose is usually mounted to an adjustable frame that sits in a sill below a partially opened window. While the flexibility of the frame is welcome when trying to mount it in a variety of different sized windows, the drawback is that it provides a less-than-airtight seal.

When using a portable air conditioner, it is especially critical to have a minimal exchange of inside and outside air since these units are not as powerful as their permanently-installed cousins. One way to overcome the problem of leaking air around the exhaust hose frame is to use weatherstripping and rope caulk. Weatherstripping consists of a foam layer attached to a peel-off adhesive; simply peel off the paper backing and stick the weatherstripping on the window so the exhaust hose frame rests against it.

For all remaining other gaps, the use of rope caulk is an effective sealer. Rope caulk is a soft, pliable putty strip that can be applied to gaps and edges in the same manner as traditional caulk. What makes rope caulk advantageous for portable air conditioners is its ease of installation and removal. To apply, just push the strip down into gaps around the frame or where it adjusts. It will adhere without hardening, and it can be simply pulled out when it is time to move the unit.

Keep it maintained

As with window-mounted units and central air conditioners, portable air conditioners require regular maintenance. Most portable air conditioners are equipped with reusable air filters, and many also use water collection pans. Both of these items need attention, or your unit's efficiency will suffer.

  • Wash the filter – having a clean air filter on your portable air conditioner is important because it prevents dust and other particles from settling on the unit's condenser and evaporator. These two components should be kept clean to permit the fullest exchange of warm and cold air. Your air conditioner's filter is typically made of a washable foam, so cleaning is easy.

Rinse the filter with a garden hose to remove large pieces of debris, and wash it in warm, soapy water to remove all of the particles as well as grease or oil that might adhere to it. Rinse it clean and allow the filter to air dry before reattaching to the unit.

  • Empty the drain pan – another important consideration is to keep the drain pan inside the air conditioner as dry as possible. The drain pan collects condensed moisture that is extracted from the air, and it prevents collected water from overflowing on the floor. Empty the drain pan often to prevent spills and to help keep a prime source of energy-stealing moisture away from the air conditioner.


10 February 2015

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