Help! Why Is My Portable AC Unit Not Getting Cold Enough?

Q: “I have a portable air conditioner that is not keeping the room cool enough, what’s wrong with it?”

A portable AC unit can fail to properly cool off your space if it is not powerful enough, the room is not properly sealed, or the unit is dirty.

Unfortunately, units love to act up on the hottest days of the year. At least troubleshooting common portable air conditioner issues might be less of a hassle than you think. If you rent or buy your spot cooler through us, we are happy to help troubleshoot and fix the issue.

Some Of The Most Common Portable Spot Cooler Issues Include

The Unit Is Too Small For Your Space

The size of a portable air conditioner is important in order for it to sufficiently cool off a space. By size we don’t mean the actual physical dimensions of the unit, but instead its cooling power potential.

Portable AC units are measured in terms of BTU ratings, and the BTU rating needs to align with the size of the room you are trying to cool. If a unit has too many BTUs for a space, it will create an issue where the unit cycles off too rapidly. On the other hand, a unit lacking sufficient BTUs doesn’t have the power necessary to impact the ambient temperature. If your room falls between different ideal BTU ratings, go with the higher option. 

The first step is to measure the length and width of the room in question. Use these numbers to calculate the area of the space, and from there match the size of the room with the appropriate unit. In same cases, same-sized rooms require different BTUs because of what the room is used for. For instance, a server room gets very hot because it constantly produces its own heat source. As a result, it requires more energy to keep temperatures cool, especially if there are a lot of servers or computers packed into one room.   

The Room Is Not Properly Sealed

If the ambient temperature is too high you might find it difficult to sufficiently cool the room. When a portable unit releases cool air into the room, it vents hot air from the compressor outside. As a result of constant venting, a pressure imbalance is created in which warm air is pulled from other areas, such as outside or adjoining rooms.

If the space is properly ventilated and sealed, doors are closed and windows are closed, it shouldn’t overwhelm the AC to the point it stops working. If there’s a leak or ambient temperatures are alarmingly high, your unit might not be able to combat these factors to cool off the room. Sunlight coming through windows can greatly increase temperatures as well; try closing windows and blinds to limit heat. Check for leaks, cracks or faulty windows or doors to see if any of these things could be creating an issue.

Your Unit Is Dirty

Portable AC units require regular cleaning to prevent a build up of dust and dirt. A dirty unit no longer functions properly until it is cleaned. Even the smallest particles can bind together and create a damaging layer on your unit’s motor, causing the entire system to clog up. As a result, you could be faced with mechanical and electrical problems. Keep up with regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent these issues from arising.

The filters on your unit may also be dirty and in need of replacement. Regularly cleaning out filters can help extend how long they last before they need to be replaced. When cleaning filters, refrain from using detergents or soaps, as they create a residue that can clog the system.

Your unit’s pre-filter is another important area you shouldn’t neglect to clean. If the pre-filter accumulates layers of dust and dirt it’ll mix with moisture and form a layer of dirt on the evaporator coil. If this build up continues to grow it’ll eventually cause the entire unit to overheat.

Tip: By keeping the outside of the unit clean, the inside of the unit stays cleaner as well.

The Room Is Very Humid

If your portable AC unit is in a humid location, or you live in a humid environment, you’ll need to empty out the unit more frequently to compensate for additional moisture absorption. Installing a drain tube can help prevent this problem, providing a bucket for excess liquid to travel. This bucket can be easily dumped as needed.

Your Unit Needs To Be Replaced

If your unit is old and outdated or broken beyond repair, Cooling Power can hook you up with one of our state-of-the-art portable spot coolers. We have units for rent and sale, as well as air-cooled or water-cooled spot coolers ranging from 1 ton to 12 tons. In other words, no matter what you need we have the right unit in stock!