Excess moisture in your indoor environment can cause a variety of problems, from musty in smells in the basement to respiratory issues and even structural damage to your home. Dehumidifiers are a great solution for removing this unwanted moisture and helping you maintain a healthy humidity level throughout your space. Whether you have a portable dehumidifier to tackle a small problem area in your home or a whole house dehumidifier that supplements your existing HVAC system, keeping your dehumidifier in top performing condition is crucial to getting the most from your purchase.
Overall, dehumidifiers are relatively low-maintenance appliances, but they aren’t maintenance-free. The following simple tips will help you keep your dehumidifier in great working condition and extend the product’s life:
- Adjust the humidistat to remove only the necessary amount of moisture. All dehumidifiers feature a humidistat, which is a device used to control the amount of moisture your dehumidifier removes from the surrounding air. Ideally, your space should have a relative humidity level between 45 and 50 percent, meaning that the indoor air is holding only half of the maximum moisture it can retain. If your humidity setting is set too low, the dehumidifier will work overtime, running continuously and removing too much moisture from the air. This will create a dry, uncomfortable environment and possibly cause damage to furniture and structures within the area. Not to mention, it will also cost you valuable energy dollars. On the other hand, setting the humidity too high will leave too much moisture in the air and fail to fix your humidity issue. If you’re having trouble determining the humidity level in your home, garage, workshop, or other area, a hygrometer can quickly provide an accurate reading of the area’s relative humidity level.
- Replace the filter. Most dehumidifiers are equipped with an air filter to remove harmful airborne particles such as dust and other allergens from your indoor environment. The filter not only protects the internal components of your dehumidifier, it ensures efficient operation day after day and creates cleaner, healthier dehumidified air. You should replace your dehumidifier’s air filter according to the manufacturer’s recommended timeframe to maintain optimal performance. Check your owner’s manual to find out the recommended timeframe for filter replacement. Some models may feature washable filters. With these models, the owner’s manual will also give a recommended timeframe for periodic filter cleanings.
- Clean the water container periodically. Frequently emptying your dehumidifier’s water collection tank doesn’t always ensure a clean water receptacle. In fact, without occasional cleanings using soap and water or a disinfectant, your dehumidifier’s water tank can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Even worse, this harmful mold and mildew will be distributed throughout your indoor air, which can lead to respiratory problems and other illnesses. Monitor your dehumidifier’s water tank and empty collected debris. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manual to determine how often the water tank should be cleaned and follow those guidelines.
- Don’t short-cycle the compressor. Avoid turning your dehumidifier off and back on immediately. Wait at least 10 minutes to turn the dehumidifier back on. The elapsed time will allow the pressure in the system to equalize and prevent damage to the compressor. Turning the dehumidifier off and on too quickly can cause the compressor to overheat and possibly trip your circuit-breaker. In addition, short-cycling your dehumidifier leads to less efficient moisture removal because the appliance is not given the necessary time to fully evaporate excess moisture. To prevent short-cycling from occurring, look for dehumidifiers that feature an automatic delayed start function to protect the compressor from short-cycle damage.
- Inspect the condenser coils for frost or ice build-up. When operating your dehumidifier in cooler temperatures, the condenser (or cooling) coils may develop frost or ice build-up, which can interfere with operation. If you suspect that your dehumidifier is malfunctioning due to ice or frost build-up, turn the dehumidifier off and unplug it in order to safely access the internal coils. If there is evidence of ice or frost build-up, the air in the room is most likely too cool for the dehumidifier to function properly. Note that it may not be possible to access internal components on some dehumidifier models and doing so may void your warranty. In these cases, it’s best to consult the manufacturer to determine the cause of the malfunction and the steps you can take to fix the issue. If frost build-up is your issue, check your owner’s manual for troubleshooting suggestions and tips. You can also try to warm up the treated space or place the dehumidifier on a sturdy table to allow warmer air to circulate around it. To ultimately avoid this problem, consider purchasing a dehumidifier with automatic defrost function. These models automatically shut the compressor off when ice is detected while the fan continues running in order to melt frost build-up. Once the ice has melted, the unit resumes operation automatically.
- Clean the air intake and exhaust grilles. Dirty grilles can contribute to poor dehumidifier performance. Once each season or more frequently depending on their condition, clean the grille that takes in the humid air and the grille that releases the dehumidified air using a vacuum brush attachment. This clears blockages caused by dust and debris and ensures the most efficient operation.
- Ensure proper placement of your dehumidifier. To get the best results from your dehumidifier, place it at least 6 inches away from any walls to ensure proper air intake and exhaust. Also, make sure that all doors and windows are shut tightly within the area where your dehumidifier is operating. Otherwise, your dehumidifier may work overtime dehumidifying air that leaks into the treated space. This could lead to higher energy bills.
You depend on your dehumidifier to keep your indoor humidity under control and your environment healthier and more comfortable. Using these simple tips, coupled with the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines in your owner’s manual, you can keep your dehumidifier in top performing shape and ensure years of continued use.
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