Why Your Window Air Conditioner Isn’t Draining Water

If you know anything about the way air conditioners work, you know that condensation is part of how they normally function. And along with that, there’s also a way to deal with that condensation.

And if you’re wondering why your window air conditioner isn’t draining water, there might be a very simple reason. Perhaps it’s not meant to.


If your window air conditioner isn’t draining water, it may be because newer models are designed to remove condensation by distributing it onto the condenser . However, if you have an older unit with a drain hole or plug, you may have a clog that needs to be dealt with.

Let’s walk through all possibilities.

What You’ll Need

  • Bottle brush 
  • Garden hose
  • Cloth
  • Brush
  • Plastic bag

Do This First

Window air conditioner correctly sited in support bracket
Check your window air conditioner unit to see if it has a drain hole

As mentioned above, most modern window air conditioners do not drain by means of a hole in the drain pan. 

Condensate collects in the drain pan and a slinger ring, which is found around the rear fan blade, picks up the water and throws it against the condenser coil. The benefits of this are twofold — it gets rid of the pool of condensate, and it cools down the condenser coil. This helps your air conditioner run more efficiently.

You need to confirm that the make and model of your window air conditioner has this feature. If so, you may not have a drain hole at all. Having said that, there are some newer units that do have this feature – they still have a plug that should be removed if you live anywhere with high humidity.

If your air conditioner doesn’t hold condensate to cool down the compressor, one of the following may apply.

Window AC Isn’t Draining Water Due to a Clogged Drain Hole – The Fix 

How to Clear an Air Conditioner Clog

When first installed, many window air conditioners require that it be done with a slight downward tilt towards the outside. This is to help facilitate drainage from the drain pan to the hole.

However, if the hole is clogged, the water has no escape.

Step 1

Before removing the unit from the window, check the bottom and lower sides of the exterior for a plug. If there is a plug, remove it and allow the water to drain.

Step 2

If there is no plug or no water drains after removing the plug, remove the unit from the window and place it somewhere sturdy. 

Step 3

Remove the front grill, the filter, and then the entire cabinet.

Step 4

Unscrew and remove the drain pan and then remove any visible debris from the bottom. Additionally, if you’ve taken the air conditioner outside, use a low-pressure hose to flush and drain the pan fully.  A bottle brush is also helpful.

If you do this step, place a plastic bag over the motor and wiring first. Note the bag shouldn’t be necessary on an AC that’s in good condition, but if it has a lot of wear and tear, the bag might be a good idea. 

Step 5

Reassemble and reinstall your air conditioner, making sure to preserve the slight downward tilt.

Window AC Isn’t Draining Water Due to a Clogged Drain Hose – The Fix

Connecting an Air Conditioner Drain Hose

If you’ve moved into a house or apartment that had a previously installed window air conditioner, the original owners might have attached a drain hose to it. Or maybe you did!

It’s possible that the hose is clogged or has just become bent or tangled so that water no longer flows freely through it.

Step 1

Find and disconnect the hose, and then flush it.

Step 2

While you have the hose disconnected, it’s a good time to make sure the drain hole isn’t plugged up as well. (See above.) 

When You’re Window Air Conditioner Has No Drain Hole

How to Drain Water from Your Window Air Conditioner Drip Pan

As mentioned at the outset, many newer window air conditioners do not have a drain hole. The reasoning behind that is that it brings better efficiency and running costs, which is explained in the video above, However it’s also pointed out that in some cases no drain hole may be a disadvantage.

There are many videos that recommend drilling a hole through the bottom of the air conditioner to allow the condensate to drain. But if you puncture something you shouldn’t while drilling, you could cause a refrigerant leak and destroy your air conditioner. 

Fortunately, there are some better alternatives such as using paper towel to wick away some of the moisture. There is a demonstration of this in the video as well.


To wrap it up, there may be a few reasons why your window air conditioner isn’t draining water. It may be designed that way, or it may be due to one of the following.

  • Clogged drain hole
  • Clogged drain hose

If it’s the first, it may mean removing your air conditioner from the window to fix it and if it’s the second, you’ll need access to the exterior portion of the unit.

It is recommended not to plug the drain hole if you live in a humid area, but units without drain holes are sold in these areas. If that’s the case for you, check the video above as it provides some alternative options.

Thanks for checking out this article!

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I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more