No one is a fan of damp, musty air. The effects are unpleasant, uncomfortable, and can even lead to health complications if left unchecked. Fortunately, technology has led to the invention of dehumidifiers, reducing humidity levels in spaces with ease.
But to maintain optimal efficiency, these appliances require recharging from time to time. Don’t worry – it’s an easy process that doesn’t take much time.
First, ensure your dehumidifier is either a refrigerant or desiccant unit, as these are the only types that require recharging. Secondly, contact an HVAC technician to recharge a refrigerant unit. However, for a desiccant unit, simply plug in the appliance to a power outlet for a few hours.
Read on to learn more about types of dehumidifiers that require recharging, when and how to recharge a dehumidifier and what to do if recharging fails. Also, I’ll explain why it’s important to contact an HVAC technician to recharge a refrigerant unit and much more!
Types of Dehumidifiers That Requires Recharging
Typically, there are two types of dehumidifiers that require recharging: refrigerant and desiccant. If you’re in the market for one, you’re likely to own either type.
1. Refrigerant Dehumidifiers
Also known as condensate dehumidifiers, these units work by cooling heated air on the cold coils and discharging dry air through a vent. The water vapor from the air condenses onto the cool surface of the coil and is collected in a drip pan where it evaporates.
So, in any case, your unit stops functioning, verify if the refrigerant is low and then contact a certified HVAC specialist for assistance.
2. Desiccant Dehumidifiers
They rely on silica gel, which acts like a sponge to absorb moisture from the air. Most brands use color beads to indicate when it’s time to recharge the device.
For example, if the beads turn green from orange, it’s time to recharge the unit. Simply, plug the power cord into an outlet and leave the dehumidifier to charge overnight or until all of the beads turn back to orange.
So, why only the two types?
Over the years, I have witnessed tremendous improvements in dehumidifiers regarding efficiency, ease of use, design, and environmental friendliness. Most of today’s model offers increased safety by doing away with R-22 refrigerant, which has been deemed environmentally damaging to use.
As a result, recharging only works if your unit uses a refrigerant or a desiccant as its coolant agent. I suggest considering this before making a purchase to eliminate any unnecessary hassle down the line.
When Should You Recharge a Dehumidifier
Dehumidifiers are not like other appliances you can plug in whenever you want. There are some telltale signs that you should pay attention to when it comes to recharging them.
- Light Indicator: Most dehumidifiers have a key indicator light that changes color depending on the charge level. Located on your dehumidifier’s control panel, this LED light turns green when the dehumidifier is fully charged and red when its power is low.
- No Dry or Warm Air: If there is no dry air coming out of the vent or it feels cold to the touch, recharge your unit. One probable cause for this issue is a worn-out coolant.
- No Change in Humidity: Probably the most obvious sign that something is amiss with your dehumidifier. If the humidity levels remain constant with no alleviation, it may be time to recharge your unit. However, a clog in the hose or filter could also be to blame.
- An Empty Water Reservoir: If your water tank runs completely dry while the dehumidifier is still running, it means the air isn’t sufficiently cooled. One potential culprit is a blocked or tired condenser coil, which you’ll need to recharge.
How to Recharge a Dehumidifier (Step By Step)
As previously stated, there are two types of dehumidifiers that requires recharging: refrigerant and desiccant. I’ll walk you through the process for each type, starting with the most common (refrigerant).
1. How to Recharge a Refrigerant Dehumidifier
Although the process of recharging a refrigerator dehumidifier may seem simple on the surface, I suggest you contact a certified HVAC professional. This is because of the dangerous gas and chemicals involved in this process.
If you want to proceed, read and follow the steps below.
Step 1: Purchase Recharge Kits
A recharge kit includes a tiny gas canister with R-410A, R-22, or any other refrigerant. However, due to environmental regulations and safety standards, the kits are only available online or from authorized dealerships. Check for compatibility with your particular model before purchasing.
Step 2: Disconnect the Power Cable
Make sure all power cables are disconnected prior to recharging. Double-check to ensure no electrical current flows through your appliance before proceeding with the next step.
Step 3: Gather the Required Tools
These tools include an adjustable wrench, flathead screwdriver, and full protective gear.
Step 4: Unbolt all Screws
Next, you need to remove all screws that connect the front panel, side panels, and back panel. I recommend taking pictures of each element as they come off so you can easily put them back together when done. Take care not to damage any of the parts while removing them.
Step 5: Take Out the Compressor
Once you’ve removed all necessary parts, take out the compressor to access the hose/tube.
Step 6: Connect Cylinder
Attach the cylinder to the hose/tube by inserting it into its opening. Twist until it fits snugly inside and secures the fitting to avoid leakage. Next, press it against the compressor to complete the connection.
After 2-3 minutes, the gas will start flowing into the compressor, and within 15-20 minutes, the unit should be fully charged.
Step 7: Disconnect the Cylinder and Reassemble Your Dehumidifier
The final step is to remove the cylinder and reconnect everything according to how you took it apart. Double-check to ensure nothing is amiss before plugging the appliance back in.
And that’s it! Your dehumidifier should now work like new.
2. How to Recharge a Desiccant Dehumidifier
There are two ways to recharge your desiccant dehumidifier: plug it in or microwave the silica.
Recharging by plugging in is the easiest but takes longer. Simply plug the appliance into an outlet and leave it running for 8-12 hours. The color beads will turn from orange to green or, in some models, blue to pink.
However, a quick way to recharge your device is by microwaving the silica on high for 20 minutes. Nuke on low power, checking every 5 minutes to ensure they don’t overheat. When the beads have turned from orange to green, remove them from the microwave and let them cool.
In essence, both methods simply heat the silica gel beads inside the dehumidifier and dry them out. However, I find microwaving way riskier due to their tendency to overheat easily.
Although time-consuming, go with the plug-in method for safety reasons.
What to Do When Recharging is Not Working
Sometimes, the device may not work even after recharging. But before you toss out your dehumidifier and get a new one, there are a few troubleshooting measures you can take.
- If the product is still under warranty, contact the manufacturer for instructions on how to get it repaired or replaced.
- Find your owner’s manual and follow the maintenance guide for your model. If you don’t have one, try searching online for a dehumidifier + owner’s manual or request a free copy from the manufacturer.
- Clean the internal coils to remove debris, dust, or lint blocking airflow. Simply unplug the unit and use a vacuum cleaner to clean the coils.
- Examine the fan blades to ensure they’re spinning freely without stopping, slowing down, or stalling. Make sure the air outlet vents are unobstructed, so air flows freely.
- Test the internal compressor to ensure it is operational. However, I highly recommend that you seek professional help as this is difficult to diagnose. Alternatively, utilize the warranty and check with customer service about their return policy.
How to Avoid Recharging a Dehumidifier
I always emphasize the importance of regular maintenance of your dehumidifier to ensure it runs at its best. Recharging your unit will undoubtedly revive it, but the more you do it, the less effective it becomes, costing you more money in repair or replacement.
So, here are some maintenance tips to help you avoid recharging:
- Regularly clean and replace dehumidifier components. These include filters, coils, vents, collection trays, and other parts that need periodic attention. Cleaning these parts extends not only the life of your unit but also ensures proper operation. Also, replace any component that is damaged or shows signs of wear.
- If you don’t have high humidity levels, consider turning off your dehumidifier.
- Result in alternative methods for reducing humidity such as opening windows when possible, installing an air conditioner etc. This not only reduces energy bills but also keeps your home dryer, requiring less use of your dehumidifier.
- Place your dehumidifier in an ideal location so it can run efficiently, capturing moisture from the most humid areas. Please keep it away from heated surfaces like radiators and fireplaces, which can cause condensation inside the unit.
- Set the humidity level on your unit to the correct relative humidity level in your home. If the level is too high, the machine will work harder than necessary. Too low, and your dehumidifier will shut off prematurely. I recommend setting the humidity level one notch below what’s comfortable in your home.
Faqs On How to Recharge a Dehumidifier
1. Can you add refrigerant to a dehumidifier?
Yes, you can recharge your dehumidifier with refrigerant if the model mechanism allows it. Furthermore, a desiccant dehumidifier does not use a refrigerant and instead relies on silica gel or other absorbent material to remove moisture from the air.
2. What refrigerant is used in dehumidifiers?
R-410A is the most commonly used refrigerant in dehumidifiers. It is an environmentally friendly, nontoxic, and ozone-friendly alternative to older types of coolants containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
3. What do you do when your dehumidifier stops working?
Before you throw away your dehumidifier, check for repairable issues such as clogged air vents or plugged drain holes. If these are clear, ensure the filter is clean and not clogged with dust and dirt. Perform these checks on all humidifier components before recharging.
4. What is the average life of a dehumidifier?
The average lifespan of a dehumidifier is about 5-10 years. However, with proper maintenance, your dehumidifier can last much longer. It is critical to clean and maintain your dehumidifier on a regular basis to avoid premature breakdown.
5. Can you use R134A in a dehumidifier?
Like R410A, you can use the refrigerant R134A in your dehumidifier. It has similar properties and performs similarly to R410A. However, do not mix or interchange these two types of refrigerants as they will damage your equipment.
6. Is it worth repairing a dehumidifier?
The cost of repairing a dehumidifier is often higher than buying a new one. The average repair costs can range from $50 to $200, defeating the purpose of trying to save money on repairs.
But sometimes, it may be worth it if you are determined to fix it on your own or if it’s an antique that holds sentimental value.
7. Do all dehumidifiers have Freon in them?
No, not all dehumidifiers have Freon in them. Some models employ different mechanisms such as absorption and desiccant for the refrigeration system. For these models, there is no need to recharge the machine with Freon.
A dehumidifier is an essential appliance in any home, especially if you live in a humid area. But like all appliances, they need regular maintenance for optimum performance.
Recharging your dehumidifier is one of the routine maintenance that ensures it operates at peak efficiency. All you need is ensure you either have a refrigerant dehumidifier or a desiccant type.
For a refrigerant dehumidifier, you must contact an HVAC professional and have them recharge the unit for you. On the other hand, a desiccant dehumidifier simply requires plugging into a standard wall outlet with no additional effort. Remember to check your model for instructions on how to recharge your dehumidifier.