When a dehumidifier is not collecting water, that means it’s not pulling moisture from the air as it was designed to do. First, check if the temperature in your home is above 65-degrees Fahrenheit. Check the fan motor to see if it’s functioning properly. That means the fan rotates easily and doesn’t produce any horrible screeching sounds. If the motor doesn’t rotate the fan at all or moves slowly, it affects your dehumidifier’s function, which needs air blowing across the coils to prevent them from icing up.
There a number of possible causes for dehumidifier malfunctions that include the following:
- Lack of ambient moisture in the air
- Overload function that prevents the compressor from starting
- The capacity that’s insufficient for your space
- Improper placement of the dehumidifying unit
- Clogged or blocked filters and
- Frozen coils
- Bad capacitor
- Control board issues
- Low level of refrigerant
- Failure of a key part
Understanding the Dehumidifier’s Function And Moisture From the Air
The dehumidifier not collecting water doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a problem because the temperature could be too low or the humidity too low. There are many issues that you can address yourself when dealing with smaller or whole house humidifiers. The following procedure mirrors the actions of a professional technician when examining a fault humidifier:
Determine the Type of Dehumidifier
- You can consult your owner’s manual to determine which type of dehumidifier you have. The equipment has different designs to work under a variety of conditions. Some dehumidifiers have an anti-defrost system to keep coils in the evaporator from freezing. These are designed for use in wet areas like basements or under low temperatures.
- Other dehumidifiers require temperatures over 65-degrees Fahrenheit to work properly. Check to see your equipment’s operating temperature range. No dehumidifier will work in extremely cold conditions, and you can check to see whether the coils are frozen. Always unplug the equipment after verifying that the exhaust fan and compressor run properly before inspecting the dehumidifier for other problems.
- Your humidifier might use desiccant instead of the usual refrigerants. Desiccants absorb moisture directly and they release air back into your home that’s dehumidified. If you have a desiccant-type humidifier, you won’t have to worry about coils freezing or compressors breaking down. These humidifiers have smaller units and they’re quieter and more efficient at filtering water from the air.
Troubleshoot the Refrigerant-type of Compressor
- Compressors and fan motors might appear to be running fine, but there can still be issues related to these functions that result in the compressor not removing water from the air. For example, both system components have a capacitor that helps run the fan motor and compressor. Capacitors can malfunction, and compressors that are running intake and exhaust fans simultaneously indicate a bad capacitor that results in the compressor being unable to rotate its refrigerant.
- Just like air purifiers for mold, blockages of air can result in malfunctions of the system. The capacitor can be damaged by excess dust that collects around vents and air grills. You can easily check if this is the case with a multimeter, an inexpensive instrument that measures two or more electrical values of electrical charges. That determines if the capacitor is working properly.
- After cleaning away the dust, you can re-check the capacitor with the multimeter to determine whether the problem has been solved. If that doesn’t work, you will need a new capacitor, and a soldering iron will be needed to replace the existing unit.
Check the Overload Device
- This component protects your dehumidifier and compressor from electrical damage from power surges — regardless of whether they’re caused by external surges or overloads caused by faulty equipment or caused by too many appliances on a circuit. When the overload device is triggered, the compressor shuts down.
- Overload devices can also break down, but they mostly fail because of a short-circuit somewhere within the electrical feed. You should inspect the circuit board if your overload device appears to be the cause of a system shutdown. Any sign of damage or burning indicates a shutdown caused by an electrical overload. You can confirm your hunch by testing the overload device with your handy multimeter.
The Compressor Function
- The most frequent cause of malfunctions that result in your dehumidifier not collecting water is compressor-related because there are several reasons why your compressors could fail. The compressor could become low in refrigerant, fail to condense humidity, or become unable to rotate the refrigerant.
- Unfortunately, if the compressor can’t be restored by your previous troubleshooting efforts, you should probably just buy a new dehumidifier. Repairing or replacing a malfunctioning compressor usually costs as much as the entire dehumidifier, so replacing everything is a wise choice.
Refrigerant Level Runs Low
- The refrigerant is critical for dehumidifier function, and the closed system seldom needs topping off the level of refrigerant. However, the moving parts of the system wear out, and the cooling system often leaks from the evaporator coils and equipment caused by aging and vibrations.
- Disconnect the dehumidifier from your electrical outlet, and remove the cover. Inspect the device for signs of leakage where pipes and joints have been sealed, and look for tiny holes and in the evaporator’s coils. You can use solder to stop leaks at the joints, but repairing leaks in the coils is best handled by a dehumidifier repair professional. Usually, it’s simpler to buy a new dehumidifier if coil leaks are causing a low level of refrigerant.
Fan Defects You Can Correct
- The fans and fan motors of dehumidifiers draw air into the unit and across condenser coils where the air is cooled and condensed to produce liquid water. The liquid is collected, and the exhaust vent returns the dehumidified air to the home environment. Check to see whether the motor is getting enough power and the fans to turn easily. If the motor is broken, you need a new motor, and hiring a professional repairman probably doesn’t make sense economically.
- However, you can troubleshoot loss of power as described earlier, and replacing a fan blade is relatively easy if it’s become damaged and rubs against the cover. You can order a replacement blade directly from the manufacturer.
- You might have bought a dehumidifier that’s too small or too large for your home. Some machines are designed for small spaces; some are designed to dehumidify the entire house. Small dehumidifiers can remove up to 30 pints of water per day, and larger units can remove 90 pints or more per day. If you’re collecting too little or too much water, it indicates that you’re using the wrong-sized dehumidifier.
The ideal humidity level for living spaces ranges from 45 percent to 50 percent. Higher levels of humidity can create an unhealthy home environment where dust mites, mold spores, bacteria, and other pathogens thrive. High levels of humidity can also be uncomfortable by causing you to sweat at normal temperatures, and they also generate health risks for some people.
Desiccant Vs. Refrigerant Dehumidifiers
There are many advantages to choosing a desiccant-style dehumidifier if you’re buying one for the first time. Desiccant compressors work in lower temperatures than refrigerant compressors. The lighter units have these advantages over compressor-style dehumidifiers:
- No compressor or evaporator coils needed
- Lighter weight and more compact design
- The lower level of noise
- Air heater included in desiccant-style dehumidifiers
- Subject to fewer mechanical failures
- More efficient extraction of water from the air
However, desiccant-style dehumidifiers cost more than their counterparts, and they tend to use more energy. Dehumidifiers that use desiccants can also raise the temperature of the air. All things being equal, you should choose a desiccant-style dehumidifier if you live in a cooler climate because it can operate in temperatures as low as 30-degrees Fahrenheit. Choose a compressor-style dehumidifier in hot climates where the average temperature remains in the 60s or higher for most of the year.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dehumidifiers
Why Is My Dehumidifier Running but Not Collecting Water?
If your compressor is not pulling water, it’s not always a cause for concern. If the temperature of the room is below 65-degrees Fahrenheit, your condenser coils might have frozen and just need defrosting. The ambient air might have low relative humidity, which stops water from accumulating.
There is also the possibility of mechanical issues, environmental issues, and power issues like a bad compressor, dust-clogged equipment, and electrical problems that have caused equipment to overload and quit working.
How Do I Know If My Dehumidifier Compressor Is Bad?
You can usually know that your compressor is bad by a process of eliminating other potential causes of dehumidifier malfunction. These include low refrigerant levels, electrical pulses that made the overload device shut down the compressor, a bad capacitor, clogging of the unit by dust and debris, or problems with the blower fans.
How Do You Unclog a Dehumidifier?
Any system that blows air is subject to malfunctioning from a buildup of dust. Dehumidifiers have many parts that can lose function because of dust buildup, and regular cleaning can prevent many problems from developing. You can clean the following parts:
- The Water Collection Tank: The tank can overflow if not emptied regularly, and it needs regular cleaning to prevent odors, mold, and mildew. Clean with household soap and warm water.
- Air Intake and Exhaust Vent Covers: The grilles that cover your air intake and exhaust areas collect dust. Cleaning these covers regularly is highly recommended at least once each season.
- Vacuuming Exterior Surfaces: Dust settles on every surface of your home, so you should dust or vacuum the exterior surfaces of your dehumidifier periodically.
How Do You Tell If Your Dehumidifier Is Not Working?
Obviously, if the indicator light doesn’t come one, there’s a problem. However the dehumidifier, compressor, and fan blower can be running, and the dehumidifier doesn’t collect any water. That can be caused by running the system at too low a temperature below 65-degrees Fahrenheit or the coils freezing up because of some other malfunction
Your dehumidifier is also subject to failure of the fan motor, a bad compressor, electrical problem, a bad capacitor, or an overload shutdown. Using a multimeter can check the function of various system components to eliminate any possible issues.
Why Do I Need a Dehumidifier?
Dehumidifiers allow you to control your environment with great precision, and using humidifiers increases your control. Some people are only comfortable in environments that range from 45 percent to 50 percent humidity. Some health issues require dryer environments, and increasing the moisture is often chosen for cosmetic issues.
The recommended humidity range also makes it unlikely that you’ll get mold, mildew, bug infestations, and the unpleasant odors associated with these threats.
Your dehumidifier stops collecting water occasionally, and that might not be a bad thing. It might mean that the natural humidity level is just right. If you determine that the malfunction is due to something that’s easy to fix, you can perform the repair. If it’s something complex like a bad compressor, the cost of repairing or replacing it usually exceeds the cost of a new dehumidifier. You should investigate the relative price of a desiccant-style dehumidifier because the convenience and benefits might outweigh any price savings realized by buying another refrigerant-style dehumidifier.