Portable A/C repair - is it worh it?


So last posting on portable A/C units was a few years ago. That previous unit lasted 5 years and still works but the bearings in the compressor are not happy and it squeals quite loudly.

The current unit on year 3 is a Haier 14.4 unit.

About a week-10 days ago or so the cold output started going down and by last week, it was only mildly cool as compared to ambient.

Had been hearing what sounded like water dripping (which stopped immediately on turning it off) and clacking sounds like something banging. Also noticed a cold/wet spot on the outside near the handle.

Opened it up, all the cooling fins were covered in a dust mat and the top water tank drain had water coming out when I removed the cap. The day before (Friday) when I detected water, I let it run overnight in fan only mode. Came back Saturday to see STOP on the screen, online see that means tank is full.

Drained tank, cleaned out the dust mats on the both sets of fins, cleaned out the water drain that is supposed to exhaust water out the heat exhaust tube.

The above is after I cleaned off most of the dust mat on top fins, the black stuff at the bottom is wet dust mat.

After a fair bit of cleaning, I powered back on and see one of the refrigerant tubes freezing up, this matches the location near external handle where it was cold and wet.

Using the infrared laser temperature to check the compressor, it’s casing was 52c at the top and 60c at the bottom and still not getting cold air at the cold exhaust or hot air at the hot exhaust.

Put it all back together and crossed my fingers but no change in behaviour. The laser thermometer is showing cold output duct running at 29.6c which is ambient. The insulated foil wrapped exhaust duct is showing 32.7c, typically that would be closer to 37 to 39c when all is working correctly.

So any hope of salvaging this or is it time to add it to the a/c graveyard in the garage?

Thankfully was able to pull out my Convair Westwind Evaporative cooler and that’s making it at least bearable, with adjustments I was down to 27.4c ambient yesterday in the office.


I would try cleaning the coils with a coil cleaner before you toss it. I’m thinking that your rad fins are blocked with grime possibly near that frozen tube Coil cleaner is great stuff and very worth it. You can pick the stuff up at Ronas or Lowes. It comes in a can of expanding foam and is self rinsing. My indoor portable picks up a lot of grease from our hood and also just being near our kitchen. This cleaner makes it work much more efficiently and colder again. The key for us has been vaccumming it out at the end of the season to get the hair/dust mat out. Once that stuff gets wet it tends to be like cement. Sorry it is so hot in your office. We’d have the same in ours without hte portable.

Hope this helps.


Janet, just to be clear, you are suggesting using the coil cleaner on the
actual copper coils that are on the side of each fin plate?

Or using that on the 2 fin plates themselves, 1 up top and 1 down below?


No on the actual fin plates only. Not on the copper bits.


Harondel did you ever figure out your AC issue? I have a similar issue right now withour office AC. I think due to dust blockage there was reduced air flow which caused the coils to freeze up. The forest fires did a real number on it - I had to clean out tons of ash. I have frost in one spot (similar to your AC). One theory I have is that the coils are frozen and need time to defrost. I’ve cleaned it out and now I’m letting the whole thing defrost overnight. I’m hoping that will get things back to normal or I’ll have to harvest its organs for some other project.


Given up on it, the compressor is working at compressing air, but the cooling
just isn’t there. Generally leave it on fan mode and use my evaporative
cooler as primary cooling device now.

Even with all the cleaning and clear internal airflow, it just won’t cool,
suspect coolant is blocked in the system somewhere. No idea how to fix that.


I do have my old working a/c unit in the garage, but the bearings on the
compressor make it whine like a banshee so it’s effectively unusable. Wish I
could just transfer parts from the one to the other and end up with a single
working unit.

Though if you want to come hack these things in my garage, that’s an option.
Maybe we end up with a single working unit you can take home and I take the
rest to recycling. My evaporative cooler, while not perfect is doing a
reasonable job of keeping it comfortable enough on the hot days.


Thanks! I’m thinking the ship is dead Jim. At least it’s cooler now in both our offices!