Why is my dehumidifier not collecting water?

By
Updated on May 16, 2024
Written by
Danny Ashton
Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers since 2010. He is our lead tester and reviewer, and is also the human in front of the camera in our YouTube channel.

If you’ve noticed that your dehumidifier doesn’t seem to be collecting much water – or isn’t collecting any water at all – there could be a few different things causing the issue. It may well be the case that there is nothing wrong with your dehumidifier at all, but there may also be a mechanical issue involved. In this article, we will go over all of the possible reasons why your dehumidifier isn’t collecting water, and more importantly, suggest what you can do to fix the problem (if there is, in fact, a problem to fix).

A compressor dehumidifier explained

How do you know if your dehumidifier is not working? 

First and foremost, you should make sure that your dehumidifier is actually malfunctioning. It could be the case that there simply isn’t any moisture in the air for the dehumidifier to collect. When you first purchase a dehumidifier, it has the tremendous task of collecting all of the moisture on your ceiling, walls and furniture, and everywhere else in your home. 

So, in the first few days or weeks after buying a dehumidifier, you’ll notice it collecting a ton of water. However, after it has removed all of the existing moisture and humidity from your home, you’ll notice a big decrease in the amount of water being collected – simply because there is no longer that much water to collect. As such, if your dehumidifier is relatively new, and you’ve noticed it’s no longer collecting water, it may be the case that it’s working perfectly. 

However, if your dehumidifier is not brand new, or if you notice that it’s particularly humid in your home and the dehumidifier is not collecting much water, then there is probably another issue at play. Let’s go over some of the issues that could be causing the problem. 

Desiccant vs. compressor dehumidifiers

Before diagnosing the problem, it’s important to distinguish between the two different types of dehumidifiers on the market. Desiccant dehumidifiers use a special substance to collect and absorb moisture in the air, whereas compressor dehumidifiers use a cold coil system to accomplish this task. 

Depending on which type of dehumidifier you have, the issue will likely be caused by a different problem. In most cases, if a desiccant dehumidifier isn’t functioning properly, it’s because either the desiccant material – whether it be silica, Zeolite, or another desiccant – needs to be replaced, or the filter or condenser is clogged. 

Try changing your filter first. If that doesn’t solve the problem, then you may need to replace the desiccant. It could also be the case that the fan is blocked, so be sure to check for and remove any obstructions that could cause the fan to stop working properly. 

That said, most dehumidifiers are compressor-based. When diagnosing problems with your compressor/cold coil dehumidifier, there are a few potential culprits. Let’s go over them one by one. 

1. You are running your dehumidifier too often

Dehumidifiers are not meant to run all the time. If there is no moisture in the air for the dehumidifier to collect, operating it will only put unnecessary strain on the mechanical components, which can cause them to overheat and subsequently malfunction. To prevent this problem, make sure that you only turn your dehumidifier on occasionally or when it’s particularly humid in your home. 

2. The temperature is too low for your dehumidifier

Condenser dehumidifiers use a cold coil system. These work by passing warm, moist air through the coil, which cools the air rapidly and extracts the water from it; the water then collects in the basin at the bottom of the unit. However, if the air temperature is very cold, the water can turn to ice on the coil, which can clog it up and cause it to stop working properly. Make sure that you only run your dehumidifier when the ambient room temperature is warm to avoid this problem. 

3. Your refrigerant fluid needs to be topped up

It could also be the case that you just need to top up your refrigerant fluid. Compressor dehumidifiers rely on a refrigerant to cool the coils that extract the moisture from the air, so check to see if you need to top up your fluid; all too often, this is the problem, especially if you have been using your dehumidifier often or it’s a few years old. 

4. The compressor is malfunctioning

A more severe problem could be that the compressor isn’t working properly. Unfortunately, dehumidifiers don’t last forever. Most good dehumidifiers on the market should serve you faithfully for many years, but eventually, they will give out one day. If your compressor has stopped working, you have two options: you can either pay to replace the compressor or you can buy a new dehumidifier. Both options will require an investment, so you’ll probably be better off buying a new dehumidifier. 

5. You have a blocked drainage pipe

Some units also have a drainage pipe that allows the collected water to drain out continuously. It’s a relatively rare problem, but if you have a dehumidifier with a drainage pipe, then check to see whether it may be blocked. Should that be the case, try to clear the blockage and see if that resolves the issue; in most cases, it will.

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About the author

Danny Ashton

Danny is the founder of HouseFresh and has been writing about air purifiers since 2010. He is our lead tester and reviewer, and is also the human in front of the camera in our YouTube channel.

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