The main purpose of a dehumidifier is to remove excessive moisture from the air so as to help create a comfortable environment for people to thrive in while ensuring mold and mildew don’t have a conducive environment to thrive in. So what do you do when you discover your dehumidifier is not collecting water as it should?
Dehumidifiers are great for people with allergies. By eliminating moisture in the air, they effectively combat mold and mildew spores, eliminate smells, and protect the home as a whole. People with allergies would also enjoy fewer allergens and less dust in the air. When you consider the benefits, a dehumidifier that quits working could be fairly troublesome.
A common issue that arises with dehumidifiers is a failure to collect water. In other words, the unit isn’t adequately removing moisture from the air, which is the entire point of the machine.
There are several reasons why this could happen and they depend on the type of unit you own and how well you’ve taken care of it. Sometimes failure to clean the air filter or aggressive handling can lead to water-collecting issues; other times, it could be a factory malfunction. Whatever the case, the following should help you understand when you have a water-collection issue on your hands. Once you know for sure, you will be able to diagnose and potentially get a repair.
Refrigerant Dehumidifier Running But Not Collecting Water
Refrigerant, or compressor, dehumidifiers function similarly to central air conditioning systems in that they both condense moisture using cooling coils full of refrigerant. The refrigerant circulates through a continuous loop, switching between liquid and gas states and moving heat energy in the process. As the refrigerant pulls heat from the air, the resulting cool air can’t hold as much water vapor so the vapor condenses on the coil.
Whereas central air conditioning systems expel the warm air, dehumidifiers have nowhere to put it except back into the room but the internal processes ensure that the new air is drier and more breathable.
Water-collection issues are perhaps more common with these types of dehumidifiers but the issue can arise out of a few different issues. To fix a water-collecting issue, you would first need to know about the different ways that this can happen. The following takes a look at some of the different things that can create a water-collecting issue.
- Low Temperature
Within the refrigerant category of dehumidifiers are a variety of different devices and some are designed for certain conditions.
Certain types of dehumidifiers, for example, require a high enough temperature to function properly. When the coils inside of your dehumidifier get too cold, they can actually freeze; when they are frozen, they can’t extract the moisture properly. If this doesn’t shut down the device entirely, it would definitely affect other parts of the system. Dehumidifiers typically have built-in defrost mechanisms that are designed to prevent this from happening but these don’t always correct the problem.
The lower the temperature is, the more likely you are to experience problems. The limit for many dehumidifiers is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit but other types will be able to run efficiently in 30-degree temperatures.
- Low Refrigerant
The refrigerant liquid is the entire point of the system so without it, the dehumidifier wouldn’t be able to do its job. By design, the refrigerant is contained within the system and shouldn’t leak but vibrations and other forces can create tiny holes over time that allow the refrigerant to slowly escape. If this were to happen, low volumes of refrigerant could hinder the dehumidifier’s ability to collect water; if the refrigerant is super low, it probably won’t work at all.
If you know how to check for leaks, you can simply remove the out casing and examine the coils containing the refrigerant. Most commonly, these leaks will occur at joints and any areas that have been soldered together. These holes can be sealed but you might have to take it to a specialist, in which case it might be easier to just purchase another dehumidifier.
- Bad Compressor
The dehumidifier’s compressor is the pump that circulates the refrigerant through the system and if your system isn’t collecting water, the compressor could be at fault. Sometimes the compressor will make a clicking noise, which does indicate a problem, but there are other, more specific components to look at as well, including:
- The Overload: The overload is a device held within the compressor that is designed to protect the motor. However, if the overload fails, the compressor won’t start even if it’s in good shape itself. The reason for the failure could be many things and running the dehumidifier on excessively long or undersized extension cords is one of them.
- The Capacitor: The capacitor is another essential component attached to your compressor and it helps the motor start so if the capacitor fails, the compressor, of course, won’t run. There are methods for checking the capacitor but sometimes you can identify a faulty compressor when the overload keeps tripping.
- Bad Fan Motor
The fan in your system is what keeps air moving and blowing across the coils, which also prevents them from freezing. An inadequate amount of air can also be the reason why your dehumidifier isn’t making water and you will know if the fan is busted because there won’t be any air coming out of the device. If you feel the grill area but don’t feel any air, you may have an issue with the fan or fan motor.
As a quick test, you could switch your system to “fan only” and see what happens. If the fan doesn’t kick on or if the fan makes a humming noise, it will likely need to be replaced. Otherwise, you could get somebody with electrical experiences to test circuits.
- Electrical Issues
Of course, a simple electrical issue could be the problem as well. Your dehumidifier’s circuit board is often what controls both the fan and the compressor. There are sensors that monitor relative humidity and kick the system on when the humidity exceeds the control setting. If your dehumidifier functions in this way and neither the fan nor the compressor are working, this may be where the issue lies. Testing for this requires voltage testing equipment such as a multi-meter.
Desiccant Dehumidifier Running But Not Collecting Water
Desiccant dehumidifiers functional entirely differently, which means that they won’t experience some of the same issues as refrigerant-based dehumidifiers do. In fact, desiccant dehumidifiers don’t even have a compressor, which eliminates several potential issues. This also means that water-collection problems are often easier to solve.
The desiccant dehumidifiers are made of up a few key components including the condenser, the heater, the fan, and the desiccant itself. The desiccant, which is a chemical, is the most important of all of these components and it actually absorbs moisture. The incoming air gets pulled through the condenser and then through the desiccant drum. Once the moisture has been absorbed, the drier air is released from the unit. Due to this process, which doesn’t require condensation, desiccant dehumidifiers can operate at lower temperatures than most refrigerant-based devices.
When desiccant dehumidifiers stop collecting water, there aren’t too many reasons why. The most common reasons this happens is due to blocked or loose parts.
- Blocked or Loose Parts
Both desiccant and refrigerant dehumidifiers have air filters that get clogged and a clogged air filter can affect the performance of the system and even shut it down entirely. If your dehumidifier isn’t collecting water, the first thing you will want to do is check the air filter. If it’s significantly dirty, you should clean it and try running the system again.
Another place you can check is the fan, which is located inside the dehumidifier. You will want to make sure that the fan can spin freely without being obstructed. Make sure that the screws are tight and that the fan isn’t making any unusual noises.
Common Issues with Extraction
For both types of machines, there are some extraction problems that arise for different reasons. The following are some additional situations that could hurt your dehumidifier’s ability to collect water.
- Dehumidifiers That Are the Wrong Size
Dehumidifiers come in different sizes and this is for a specific reason. Bigger rooms will need more power and smaller rooms don’t require as much power. You might think that a high-capacity dehumidifier will satisfy any small room but this isn’t always the case and using the wrong size unit can actually hurt performance and run up your energy bills.
For that reason, you don’t want to buy a unit with a water removal capacity that is higher than you need so consider your needs and then take a look at the specs for each machine. Dehumidifier capacity is generally measured in pints of water but you are also looking at square footage and the dampness level of the room in which you are placing the unit. Small rooms that are very damp might require a dehumidifier with higher capacity.
Obviously, dehumidifiers that are too small for the room won’t adequately dehumidify but dehumidifiers that are too large for the room may collect less water than you’d expect. Sometimes the machine won’t run at all due to being the wrong size so to be safe, you want to make sure that the device capacity matches the room size and dampness levels.
- The Air Isn’t Moist Enough
If there isn’t enough moisture in the air, the dehumidifier has to nothing to dehumidify. This can happen when the dehumidifier drags the humidity levels down too low or when there isn’t enough moisture to begin with.
These days, dehumidifiers will have built-in meters that tell you how much humidity is in the air but if it doesn’t have one, you could always buy an external meter to gauge the humidity levels. Knowing what the humidity level is will prevent you from running the dehumidifier when you don’t need it, saving you on electricity.
Of course, dehumidifiers these days are designed with sensors that monitor the humidity levels and only kick on when the humidity reaches a certain point, after which it will bring the humidity back down again.
- Bad Humidistat
The humidistat is a feature on most dehumidifiers that is used to regulate settings. When this goes bad, the dehumidifier itself may not receive the right information that would be needed to function properly, which would ultimately lead too little to no water collection. Similarly, the control boards associated with these features could also go bad, which would have similar results.
- Blocked Water Hose
If you have a hose attached to your dehumidifier for drainage, you want to make sure that it remains unclogged and unkinked. When the water can’t drain freely, it could back up into the system, which could lead to malfunctions such as poor water collection.
Fixing Your Dehumidifier
Sometimes it’s possible to fix the dehumidifier and continue using it but you will want to pay attention to the costs. If repair costs start getting too high, it may be better to simply replace the dehumidifier.
Having a multi-meter and some electrical knowledge will be useful in diagnosing issues. Your multi-meter will tell you whether or not electrical components have power. You can test each area until you find a spot that isn’t getting power, which will give you an idea of how to fix the unit.
Otherwise, you could take your dehumidifier to a shop or a local repair technician. In the case of a refrigeration unit, an HVAC technician would likely be able to repair your machine but, again, you would want to watch the cost.
Consider Getting a Warranty
If you are buying a dehumidifier for the first time or perhaps re-buying one after your first one malfunctioned, it might be worth extending your warranty so that you are covered if something happens. Typical warranties last for around two years but could last longer if you pay a little extra. If you are concerned about these types of issues, it may be worth it. Also, read the instructions in your dehumidifier’s booklet to get a better understanding of the warranty and what it covers.