Troubleshooting Your Dehumidifier

It is a scenario that has happened to just about everyone at some point in time. You spend hours upon hours comparing different dehumidifiers and closely examining dehumidifier reviews until you find one that you like. You order it and it works great for the first year or so. Then without notice, your unit isn’t working the way it’s supposed to work. What will you do now? It’s almost enough to make you want to throw the unit against the nearest wall.

However, before you smash your dehumidifier in a moment of blind fury, you take a few moments to see if the unit is actually defective or if there is a simpler—and cheaper—explanation for why your dehumidifier is doing what it’s doing. While there are definitely some problems that require the assistance of a professional, or at the very least require you to return the unit for a refund, I have found that many problems can be fixed quickly and easily. All you have to know is what you’re looking for to fix the problem.

Today, I am going to go over a few of the most common problems that can easily be fixed by just about anyone. I am going to show you how to spot these problems and troubleshoot them, so that your best dehumidifier doesn’t become the next occupant of the city dump.

Dehumidifier Shuts Off Without Lowering Humidity

Believe it or not, this is one of the most frequent dehumidifier problems. And it is also the easiest one to fix. Usually when this happens you simply need to adjust the humidistat to a lower setting. That usually fixes the problem.

Dehumidifier Runs But Doesn’t Fill The Tank

If you dehumidifier is constantly running but no water is being put into the reservoir, then you might want to try cleaning the unit, filters and all. If that doesn’t solve the problem, however, then you might need to take it to a professional because it might have a problem with the refrigeration system.

Dehumidifier Stops Running

If the light on your unit is on but the unit isn’t running, then you might need to empty the reservoir tank. Some units automatically shut off when this tank gets filled. If the tank isn’t full, then check the position of it to make sure that the shut off switch hasn’t been accidentally set off by the position of the unit and/or its tank.

Coils Are Frosting Over

If frost is beginning to form on your condenser coils, then you might want to make sure the room temperature of your room is high enough to allow proper operation of your unit. If this happens, then either increase the temperature of the room or unplug the dehumidifier and allow it to defrost.

That concludes our little article on troubleshooting your dehumidifier. Hopefully this article has helped you solve some of the more common problems. However, if the solution to your problem can’t be found in the above solutions, then you might have to take your unit to a repair shop to have it fixed.

Buying A Portable Dehumidifier

Some people believe that the best dehumidifier for them is a whole-house unit. While that might be the case in some circumstances, it isn’t true all of the time. Not only are whole-house units expensive and time consuming to install, but they also require that your home has the right duct work for it to be installed in the first place. In my experience, I have found that the most cost-effective and easiest solution for most households is a portable dehumidifier.

Before you shop for a portable dehumidifier however, it’s important to know what you need to look for in one of these units. Which is the purpose of this guide today. In this guide, we are going to show you the benefits that portable units provide over whole-house units, things to consider while installing one of these units, as well as the best portable dehumidifier features. After we have covered those things, you will have the knowledge you need to look over dehumidifier reviews and make an informed buying decision.

Portable Versus Whole Home Dehumidifiers

What makes a portable unit the preferred option for most people in most situations is its cost. Portable units are a fraction of the cost of whole-house units. However, that isn’t the only reason portable units can be superior to whole-house units in most situations. Another factor that needs to be considered is ease of installation. Portable units are simply easier to install.

Installation Options For Portable Units

One thing that really needs to be considered about a portable unit is where it needs to be installed. While these units can easily be moved from room to room, you want to make sure that you when you do place them in a particular location you are installing them correctly.

Most portable units have reservoirs that capture water pulled from the air, and on these units you have to make sure you set them in a location convenient enough for you to accomplish this task. If the unit is hard to reach, then you probably won’t be emptying it as often as you should.

However, there are some units that have a continuous drainage system. With these units you have to make sure that there is an available drain for them to discharge water into. If you try to use these units without a proper drain, then you can cause flooding that may damage your floor or the unit itself.

Best Portable Dehumidifier Features

You should ensure that the portable unit you are thinking about buying has a few minimum features. Features that not only make it easier to operate but also ensure that it will run properly. Some of the features you need to consider for a portable unit include:

  • Auto-Shutoff
  • Energy Star Rating
  • Range Of Humidity Settings
  • A Humidistat
  • A Drain Connection Kit (if it’s a continuous drain system)

Finding a unit with all of the above features will ensure that you not only end up with a portable dehumidified that is convenient to use but one that is of the highest quality.

Types Of Dehumidifiers

Before you can go out and buy the best dehumidifier possible, you first need to know all of the different types of dehumidifiers that are out there. In the past, there were only one or two options available when you wanted to go buy one of these units. That just isn’t the case anymore. There are quite a few different types of dehumidifier models, and each of these different types have their own features which make them unique. Let’s take a few moments today and see some of the different dehumidifier models that are available today.

There are three basic types of dehumidifiers on the market today. These include heat pump dehumidifiers, chemical absorbent ones and ventilating dehumidifiers. Some people also use homemade dehumidifiers, but those aren’t going to get touched upon today because they don’t work as well as commercial models. Let’s take a closer look at these three dehumidifier models you are likely to encounter while reading dehumidifier reviews.

Heat Pump Dehumidifiers

These type of dehumidifiers—also known as refrigerant dehumidifiers—work by using a fan, a heat exchange and a heat pump to remove moisture from your air. This is the basics of how they work. Air is pulled into a unit by the fan and then passed over the heat exchange, or condensation coils. As the air passes over these cold coils, the moisture in the air is transferred from a gas into a liquid. This liquid is then expelled into a reservoir or through a drainage system. Meanwhile, the now drier air is warmed back to temperature by the heat pump and it is fed back into the room. These are perfect for most home applications.

Chemical Absorbent Dehumidifiers

This type of dehumidifier is very different from a heat pump one. It works by using some type of desiccant absorbent—usually silica gel—to absorb the moisture in the air. Here is how it works. Air is passed over this material and it absorbs the moisture. This moisture is then expelled via an outside vent. These type of dehumidifiers are often used in extremely hot areas and for industrial applications.

Ventilating Dehumidifiers

These are the simplest dehumidifiers of them all. All this device does is to pump the moist air from the room via an outside vent. They are usually fairly inexpensive but don’t work as well as chemical or heat pump dehumidifiers.

Those are the three basic types of dehumidifiers. However, from these three types there are hundreds of hundreds of dehumidifiers that all have different features. For a list of some of these features, I urge you to read some of my other articles that were written to clarify the subject a bit further.

How To Buy A Dehumidifier – Part One

If you have areas of your home that have really moist air, then you may have thought about purchasing a dehumidifier. You thought it would be pretty easy just to go online and buy one. Yet when you started searching through dehumidifier reviews your mind was boggled by all of the different sizes, styles and features. Well, that is why I am here today. I am going to help you cut through all of the noise and find the perfect dehumidifier for your home. Just by following these few easy steps, you will not only save time and money but you will also save yourself quite a lot of frustration.

Gauge Humidity Level

You know that your home is humid, but you don’t know exactly how humid it is. That is why you probably need to purchase a hygrometer before you run out and buy your dehumidifier. A hygrometer allows you to take accurate humidity readings of your home so you know exactly what type of humidifier to buy. It is a device that can easily be found at any home improvement store or online. While you don’t necessary have to buy one if you don’t want to, it does make it easier for you to purchase the best dehumidifier possible for your home.

If you don’t want to purchase a hygrometer, then you can do a simple assessment of your home to determine humidity level. While it won’t be as accurate of an assessment as using a hygrometer, it will give you a baseline. Here are some ways to access your room’s humidity level:

  1. 90-100 percent humidity: Standing puddles of water in the room and/or the room is extremely wet.
  2. 80-90 percent humidity: Room smells and feels wet; it also has visible water or mildew stains.
  3. 70-80 percent humidity: No water stains but the room has a clear mold or mildew smell to it.
  4. 60-70 percent humidity: If the room smells slightly damp.

Determine Air Changes Per Hour

Now that you know your room’s humidity level, you can now gauge the ACH (air changes per hour) rate you need to properly dehumidify the room. You can judge your ideal ACH by checking your humidity on the following table:

  1. 90-100 percent humidity: ACH 6
  2. 80-90 percent humidity: ACH 5
  3. 70-80 percent humidity: ACH 4
  4. 60-70 percent humidity ACH 3

Calculate Your Room’s Square Footage

Now you need to figure out the square footage of your room. Using a tape measure, measure the width and length of your room and multiple the two to get your square footage. For example, if you have a 10  by 8 feet, then your square footage would be 80 feet.

Now that you’ve determined your humidity level, your ACH and have calculated your square footage, it is now time to determine your CFM, and how many pints of moisture you need extracted from your room daily. Please read Part Two of our dehumidifier buying guide to continue.

Maintaining Your Dehumidifier

The whole purpose of your dehumidifier is to remove the moisture that is trapped in the air in the form of steam, so that humidity levels in your home or business is properly regulated. As you probably have noticed from reading dehumidifier reviews, most of the time these units are portable and are designed to regulate the humidity in a single area. Usually a room or a couple of rooms. The unit maintains proper humidity levels in your home or business to reduce the growth of allergens or mold which can thrive in a high moisture environment. It also reduces possible water damage to your room’s paint, furniture or wood.

However, your dehumidifier can only perform this job if it is properly used. Which brings me right around to the point of this article. Today, I am going to show you how to properly care for your humidifier so that it can properly do the job it was designed to do. Follow along with me and I’ll show you how to make your dehumidifier the best dehumidifier it can be.

Step One: Read And Save The Manual

The first thing you should do when you unbox your dehumidifier is to read the owner’s manual from front to back. Inside this little manual is everything you need to know about your particular unit. It will show you how to run it, how to maintain it and what to troubleshoot if it begins to have problems. After you have read this manual thoroughly, you should then file it away in a safe place for future reference.

Step Two: Make Sure The Humidistat Is Set For The Proper Humidity Level

It’s very important that you have your dehumidifier’s humidistat set to its proper humidity level. If you set it too low, then the unit may run longer than it needs to. Which will result in wasting electricity and driving up your energy bill. Too low of a setting may also cause undesirable air properties such as a buildup of static electricity. So be sure you set it at the proper level, which is usually around 35-40 percent humidity.

Step Three: Clean Or Replace The Filter Regularly

You need to clean or replace your dehumidifier’s filter at least once or year or as recommended by your owner’s manual. You should also check the filter for damage about every six months. If during this inspection you notice any form of damage to the filter, then you need to replace it immediately.

And that is all there is to maintaining your dehumidifier. If you follow these steps, then your dehumidifier will not only work better but it will last longer and use less energy.

Tips On When To Use A Dehumidifier

A dehumidifier is a great device for anyone looking to exert some control over their home or office environment. It is particularly useful in maintaining a healthy environment for those with certain respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergies or COPD. It can also keep pollutants in the air at a more manageable level, especially when used in conjunction with an air purifier.

Another added bonus of using a dehumidifier is that is can actually lower your utility bills. Modern units use very little power, but they help furnaces and air conditioners do their jobs more efficiently. Which usually results in the furnace or air conditioner being run less often—which in turn leads to lower bills.

A dehumidifier isn’t a cure-all for every ill, however. It is not meant for every single situation. So before you run out and start pouring over dehumidifier reviews, you might want to know what circumstances  these units are the most effective. That is what we are going to help you out with today.

Excess Moisture

If your house is holding a lot of excess moisture, then you might want to run out and buy the best dehumidifier possible. Excess moisture in the home is extremely problematic and can promote the growth of all kinds of nasty critters such as bacteria, mold and fungus. Most types of mold and fungus can cause significant problems to your respiratory health and may even make you extremely ill. A 70 pint dehumidifier is a good start in reducing the moisture in the home, and as a result, reducing the nasty things that might be growing because of all of this excess moisture.

Humid Climates

Humid climates are the perfect environment to use a dehumidifier. That is what these devices were made to handle. They can help the house maintain a more comfortable level. This is particularly helpful for people with allergies or respiratory problems.

Basements

If your basement leaks or is below grade, then you might want to get a basement dehumidifier. This can resolve minor standing-water issues and will help your furnace work more efficiently.

Respiratory Problems And/Or Allergies

I have emphasized the fact that dehumidifiers help maintain a better environment for individuals with allergies or respiratory problems because that is the biggest benefit of owning one. However, it just isn’t for people who currently have these types of health issues. It is also perfect for those who are prone to developing these particular conditions. In most homes, a 60 or 70 pint dehumidifier is perfect for taking care of the air quality for the entire home. Or if you prefer, you can buy a smaller unit that is just used in your bedroom while you sleep, as many respiratory problems seem to flare up in the evening. Another option is to use a 30 pint dehumidifier, but remember that if you choose that option, then you are going to need to close all of the windows in the house to maximize the efficiency of that size unit.

Dehumidifiers Demystified

For a long time, dehumidifiers were a bit of a mystery to me. Not only did I not really understand the science behind their operation but I also didn’t know if or when I needed one. So I decided to educate myself on the subject. I read all I could about dehumidifiers and looked over the features of the best dehumidifiers. In effect, I turned myself into a dehumidifier expert.

Now that I know just about everything a person can know about dehumidifiers, I decided to write this article to demystify them for the rest of you. The purpose of this article is not only to explain to you what these machines do, but also how to tell when you need one. This will enable you to decide if you need one of the devices for your home, and if you decide you do, help you sort through all of the dehumidifier reviews out there to find one that is perfect for your situation. Let’s get started.

What Do Dehumidifiers Do In The First Place?

This is a pretty easy question to answer. Dehumidifiers remove the excess moisture from the air. This excess moisture in the air, also called humidity, can cause all sorts of damage not only to your home but also to your health. It can warp wood, destroy furniture and peel wallpaper. It can also cause a proliferation of mold, fungi and bacteria in your home. All of which can cause respiratory problems and aggravate allergies.

How Do They Work?

Dehumidifiers work by pulling in air through a fan and passing it over coils to cool it down. As the air cools, then the moisture (which is in the air in the form of steam) turns into a liquid and is collected in a reservoir or pumped away from the machine. The now dry air is then blown back into the room.

Do I Need A Dehumidifier?

If you suffer from allergies or respiratory problems, then you do need one. You also need one if you feel like the air in your home is muggy or if your home has moisture problems.

How Do I Use A Dehumidifier?

Here are the steps for using a dehumidifier:

  1. Find a place for the unit-This is usually in the center of the room, but certain dehumidifier models require different considerations. For example, if you have a unit that drains continuously, then you will need to place it close to a floor drain so it can properly drain. Just make sure where ever you set it up that there is plenty of space for air to move around the unit.
  2. Turn On And Set-Plug in the unit, turn it on and set it to your desired humidity level. Usually around 40% humidity is good for most homes.
  3. Check Reservoirs-Make sure you check the reservoir on a regular basis and empty it when it becomes full.

And that my friends, is everything you need to know about dehumidifiers. Hopefully, I have demystified these and given you the tools you need to reliably use one.

Essential Dehumidifier Features

While one person’s definition of the best dehumidifier will differ from another person’s definition, I think it is probably safe to say that there are probably some features that should be common to all high quality dehumidifiers. Essential features that will ensure that the dehumidifier not only performs the job it is designed to do, but will do it without needing a whole lot of user input. Today, we are going to talk about some of these essential features of dehumidifiers and why they are important for you to consider before purchasing one.

The Water Reservoir

This feature can be found on most dehumidifiers. I am saying most because some use units don’t use a reservoir but either have a continuous drainage feature or uses some form of water absorbing material, such as silica gel, to collect water. We will talk about some of those a little bit later.

Dehumidifiers have reservoirs to collect the water that drip from the condensing coils when the moisture is extracted from the air. Therefore, you really can consider it as being an essential part of the whole dehumidifier. When buying a dehumidifier, it is important to get a dehumidifier with a decent size reservoir because you don’t want to have to empty it out more often than you really have to.

Continuous Drainage And Condensate Pumps

You will find continuous drainage on systems that don’t use a reservoir system, and its basic operation is fairly simple. What a continuous drainage system does is send the water down a hose so that it can exit the system via a floor or sink drain. As water is collected form the air, it is sent to the exit hose where gravity does its thing and carries it away from the unit.

Some dehumidifiers with a continuous drainage system also have a condensate pump that isn’t gravity based. Which means that it can pump the water upwards away from the system. This allows the drainage hose to be put into a sink drain or through a basement window.

Automatic Defrost

If you look through dehumidifier reviews, then you’ll notice that a lot of dehumidifiers have an automatic defrost feature. All this feature does is to defrost the condensing coils if they freeze up because of lower than standard room temperatures. This allows the unit to be used in cooler environments—such as basements—that often fall below 42 degrees.

Humidistat

A humidistat is an essential feature in my opinion because it allows you to fine tune the humidity levels in your room. Units that don’t have one usually have to either run all of the time, or the user has to manually turn them on and off to keep humidity levels in their preferred range. Units that have a humidistat will automatically shut off when they have reached the minimum humidity level and turn back on when the humidity level gets too high. All without user input.

The above features are the ones that I consider essential on any dehumidifier. They not only allow the unit to operate more efficiently and effectively, but they also reduce the amount of time that you have to dedicate to setup and operation of the unit.

Portable Vs. Whole Home Dehumidifiers

If you’ve been looking over dehumidifier reviews and are having some difficulty deciding on whether you need a portable unit or a whole house system, then you can relax a little bit. While I know that trying to make a decision like that can be frustrating, I have shown up here today to give you the information that you need to effortlessly answer that question.

Deciding on a portable or whole-house system really depends on your particular needs. Some people are better off buying a portable system, and others are better off buying a whole-house system. It really comes down to answering a few basic questions about how you intend on using the dehumidifier.

Portable Dehumidifiers

If there is only room in your home that needs dehumidifying, then you clearly only need a portable unit. However, as the size of the area you need dehumidified grows, the larger a dehumidifier you will need to buy. Of course, there are large portable models that have 30 pint capacities or more, but these units tend to be bulky and hard to move from one location to another.

Another thing to consider before you buy a portable unit is how you are going to dispose of the water from the system. The water from the tank has to either be emptied on a regular basis or fed down a floor drain (if you unit supports this option).

Whole Home Systems

If you live in an area where humidity is a problem all year long and not just in the summer, or if you find yourself having to use a bunch of different dehumidifiers all over your home, then you might have to purchase a whole home system. After all, even the best dehumidifier won’t dehumidify an entire house alone.

Whole home systems have their pros and cons though. Let’s start off with the positives first. One, drainage is never a problem with these systems because they usually empty right into your basement’s floor drain. And two, they can dehumidify an entire house and do it in a more energy efficient manner than using a bunch of portable units.

Now let’s tackle the negative aspects of installing a whole home system. First, they are fairly expensive. You can count on spending around $3,000 dollars, maybe even more on a good unit. Two, they have to use the existing duct work in your home—which may be a problem for people without a central heating system.

As you can see, there are really only a few variables to consider between a portable and a whole home system. If you take these variables into consideration, then you will end up with the best dehumidifying solution for your home.

Cleaning Your Dehumidifier

If you have just bought a dehumidifier, then you have probably not only spent good money on the unit but have also spent a good amount of time comparing models and examining dehumidifier reviews. Let me be the first to congratulate you on your new purchase. Evidently you are a person who cares about the air quality of their home.

However, let me also be the first one to say that despite all of the time and effort you used acquiring your unit that you may not have thought about how you are going to keep it running at peak performance. After all, it is new and the thought of proper dehumidifier cleaning and maintenance is probably the furthest thought from your mind. But is shouldn’t be.  It’s as important as the features are on your unit.

Proper cleaning of your dehumidifier will keep your unit performing at its best. It will ensure that it runs correctly, uses less power and lives as long as it should. In effect, proper cleaning will ensure that your best dehumidifier remains its best. And today, I am going to show you the steps you need to take to keep your machine lean, mean and clean.

The Water Collection Reservoir

The first thing that needs to be cleaned on your dehumidifier is your unit’s water collection tank. You probably know that you need to empty out this water on a regular basis, but didn’t really think about the fact that it needs a good scrubbing on occasion. That’s okay, because you’re not alone. Most people forget about washing this part of the machine with soap and water. However, it’s very important that it is cleaned because mold can build up in the tank and get circulated by the system. So be sure to clean it out regularly.

The Dehumidifier’s Filters

The next thing that you need to clean or replace is the filters. On some units, the filters can be cleaned out by rinsing them under running water. Other systems however, have filters that need to be replaced completely. Find out which type of filter’s you have and make sure they are cleaned or replaced at least once a year.

Wipe Down Your Dehumidifier’s Exterior

About once a year, you should also wipe clean the outside of your dehumidifier. This includes all plastic parts. All you need to do to accomplish this task is to mix a little bleach in some clear water and apply it to a sponge. Then just wipe the exterior of the machine clean.

Clean Out Those Intake And Exhaust Grilles

The last thing that needs to be cleaned on your dehumidifier is the intake and exhaust grilles. At least twice a year, you should take your vacuum’s hose attachment and make sure that you suck up all dirt and dust that may have collected on your unit. This will ensure that the air entering and exiting your dehumidifier doesn’t pick up any nasty debris and circulate it back to you.