Do Dehumidifiers Lose Effectiveness?

Dehumidifiers are essential machines when you need to help reduce the moisture content of a room in your home.

They can also help family members with respiratory issues and can help relieve allergies by improving the air quality in your home as it passes through filters within the appliance.

However, if you run your dehumidifier every day or most days, it may eventually lose its effectiveness.

If a dehumidifier is used every day, it case lose some effectiveness within five years. The life of a dehumidifier could be extended and maintain its effectiveness if regularly cleaned and only used during the months in which moisture in the air is at its highest.

While we’ve only been using our current model of dehumidifier for a couple of years, we haven’t noticed it lose effectiveness, although we don’t need to use it year-round due to the climate we’re in.

We have however seen a drop in its effectiveness when we didn’t clean the filters for a longer period of time than we should have left it without cleaning or replacing them.

The filters at the air inlet to a dehumidifier can get dusty and cause it to lose effectiveness if not cleaned

Read on to find out why your dehumidifier may lose its effectiveness and how you can help extend its lifespan.

Do Dehumidifiers Lose Effectiveness?

A dehumidifier may lose effectiveness through use until it reaches the end of its design life, but factors such as not cleaning the appliance properly and/or regularly can cause a dehumidifier to lose effectiveness much more quickly.

Depending on where you live, a dehumidifier may need to be used year-round or only need to be used during certain seasons of the year.

Running a dehumidifier takes energy, so the more you run it the more likely it will eventually lose its effectiveness.

If you find it’s not properly pulling water from the air, it may need cleaning, repair or replacement.

Depending on the area in which you live, the humidity levels within your home may vary throughout the year and so will the need to run your dehumidifier.

Dehumidifiers usually should not be operated in temperatures that are below 60 degrees Fahrenheit because the moisture that it removes from the air can freeze and damage the device.

If you properly care for and maintain your dehumidifier, you can help to increase its effectiveness and lifespan.

This includes regularly cleaning and/or changing the air filters, cleaning the exhaust grill and condensing coils, and emptying and cleaning the water bucket when required.

We’ve personally found the biggest cause of our dehumidifier to lose effectiveness is not cleaning or changing the air filters as and when required.

Before and after cleaning

Our dehumidifier has three filters: dust, HEPA and activated carbon.

Old and new HEPA filters for our dehumidifier

When we didn’t clean or change either of these filters when we should have (as outlined in the owner’s manual), we noticed a fairly significant decline in the dehumidifiers effectiveness to pull moisture from the air.

In addition to properly running your dehumidifier during the appropriate temperatures and giving it the appropriate care and maintenance, it is important to note that different types and models of dehumidifiers have different lifespans.

One type or model of dehumidifier may have a longer span of effectiveness than another, depending on the climate and use in your home.

Different Types Of Dehumidifiers

The two types of dehumidifiers are refrigerant and desiccant types.

A refrigerant dehumidifier condenses the moisture from the air and then this moisture is drawn into the dehumidifier. It is driven over the cold evaporator coil, which is where cooling and condensation of the moisture takes place.

Other thoughts on refrigerant types include:

  • The water is either collected in a drain tank that would need emptied or is let directly out through a pipe.
  • They work best in temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and from May through September.
  • They do not work well in colder temperatures because the inside of the condenser needs to be cooler than the air in the room in order to work.
  • They are usually the standard choice for basements and crawl spaces.

A refrigerant type of dehumidifier is best for families who live in a hot and dry climate.

If you’re using a refrigerant type of dehumidifier in colder weather it will more than likely lose its effectiveness faster.

Therefore, if your climate is cooler and has consistent moisture throughout the year, you will get more efficiency with a desiccant type.

Dehumidifier Plugged In
As we live in a colder climate we use the desiccant type of dehumidifier

A desiccant dehumidifier uses absorbent desiccant materials like silica gels to absorb the moisture directly from the air over time. Unlike the refrigerant version, this is a mechanical unit that draws in the air and passes it through a mechanical rotor that contains the absorbent desiccant materials.

During this process, the water and moisture are removed from the air and then dry air is released back into the atmosphere.

When compared to a refrigerant dehumidifier, a desiccant has a longer lifespan and effectiveness because it has fewer moving parts in the mechanical system. This means there are fewer moving parts to give up over time.

What Else Can Influence Effectiveness?

Desiccant dehumidifiers may have a longer effectiveness than refrigerant types due to having fewer moving parts, but the two factors that will affect the lifespan of your dehumidifier over time is the frequency of use and the consistency of maintenance.

If you run your dehumidifier year-round and do not clean it, it will lose effectiveness faster.

There isn’t a fixed amount of time in a year that a dehumidifier should be used because every room size is different as is the climate and atmospheric condition in which they are used. The rule of thumb should be, if the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the air is dry, you should unplug your device and store it.

The more you run your dehumidifier throughout the year, the more it will need to be cleaned.

Consistently cleaning the parts, replacing the filter, and emptying the water bin will add life and effectiveness to your device.

There are also different classifications of dehumidifiers depending on size that may need different forms of maintenance:

  • Whole house dehumidifier – Larger and mounted so that it can remove the moisture from the entire home effectively.
  • Portable dehumidifier – These are easily moved throughout the home.
  • Mini dehumidifier – These are also portable but are even smaller in size and can actually be carried around.
We went for a portable dehumidifier

The larger dehumidifiers may need to be cleaned more often, but in the end, it really comes down to duration and maintenance combined to retain the effectiveness of your dehumidifier.

The more frequent you use it, the more you should clean and maintain it. You could also purchase a dehumidifier with an automatic on-off feature for ease of use.

Maintaining Your Dehumidifier For Effectiveness

There are a few tips that you can follow to help preserve the effectiveness of your dehumidifier.

Following these tips can actually increase the lifespan of your dehumidifier from three to five years to up to ten years of use, saving money over time:

  • Regularly clean the water tank so that contaminants do not grow and get into the air.
  • Replace your filter regularly to avoid contaminants and reduce clogs in the unit.
We now change our filters more regularly
  • Examine the condenser coils to make sure they do not have any frost build-up.
  • Regularly clean the air inlet and outlet channels with a brush to clear any dust or debris and avoid blockages.
Dehumidifier Air Outlet
The air outlet also needs to remain clean

In addition, you should always set your dehumidifier at a safe level for reducing the moisture in your home.

If you set it at a very low moisture level it will end up overworking to try to maintain that extremely low level that is set. This will end up reducing the effectiveness of your device because it has to work so hard.

You should also avoid short cycling the device’s compressor, which could overheat the device and damage the compressor. Short cycling the dehumidifier is when you immediately turn the dehumidifier on and off within a short time frame. Doing this will contribute to losing its effectiveness over time.

Once you turn on your dehumidifier, you should wait a minimum of ten minutes to turn it off so that the pressure can equalize and not damage the compressor. That way, your dehumidifier will continue to work effectively for longer periods of time and you will not need to replace the compressor in the unit.

Do Dehumidifiers Go Bad?

A dehumidifier can lose its effectiveness if it is used too frequently.

Dehumidifiers will also lose their effectiveness if they run in cold areas where the temperature is lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and if it is not properly cleaned and maintained.

Desiccant dehumidifiers may have a longer lifespan than refrigerant types because of less parts, but it often comes down to duration and cleanliness.

Further Reading

Does A Dehumidifier Need Filters?

Do You Need A Dehumidifier For Every Room?

Does A Dehumidifier Help With Dust?

Does A Dehumidifier Shut Off?