All appliances can be prone to malfunctions and dehumidifiers are no exception.
A dehumidifier that keeps shutting off can be due to a range of reasons.
The main reasons for a dehumidifier that keeps shutting off can include mechanical or electrical malfunction, dirty filters, a full water tank, low temperatures, the dehumidifier is placed on an uneven surface, or the humidity is set too high.
We’ve had our own desiccant dehumidifier shut off on us a number of times but none of them were serious issue and were just simple problems such as dirty filters, a blocked water inlet, tanks full of water and placing it on an uneven surface.
We discuss and explain in more detail below the main reasons why your dehumidifier could be shutting off.
Below is a list of various reasons your dehumidifier may be turning itself off.
- Your filter may be dirty.
- The water tank may be full.
- The air temperature of your room could be too low.
- Your humidistat might be set wrong.
- Your dehumidifier is in the wrong place to function properly.
- Your fan might be jammed or dirty.
- You could have an electrical malfunction.
- Your dehumidifier might be part of a recall.
Be sure that you and your dehumidifier are near an electrical outlet, since you may need it to help identify why it keeps shutting off.
For your safety, you should make sure that your dehumidifier is turned off and unplugged before beginning any troubleshooting steps.
Having your owner’s manual nearby may also be helpful since components differ by model.
This is also a good time to familiarize yourself with the parts in your unit. Your manual should have a diagram near the front.
Dehumidifiers work by pulling air through your unit, filtering out the moisture and other particles, then pushing the drier air back out.
This means that dirt, dust, and other particles will get trapped in the filter(s) and so they should be checked every few weeks for buildup.
A dirty air filter can also wear out other parts in your unit, so upkeep is very important.
To clean the filter(s) on your dehumidifier:
- Remove the filter from your unit and carefully wash it with soap and water. If you’re unsure how to remove your air filter, those instructions can be found in your model’s user manual.
- Gently wash your filter with mild soap and water.
- After it is washed and completely dry, put it back in your unit and power it on.
If you happen to see any holes or warps in your filter while cleaning it, you may need to purchase a new one. Some filters also can’t be washed and will need to be replaced.
Our dehumidifier has three filters:
- Standard inlet dust filter
- HEPA filter
- Activated carbon filter
The standard dust filter on our dehumidifier provides a first layer of protection to help prevent dust from getting into the unit.
We found our dehumidifier was shutting off due to lack of airflow as a result of not cleaning this filter regularly enough.
We now make sure to clean this filter regularly, and our manual states to ‘use water and mild detergent to clean the washable mesh filter’.
The HEPA filter on our dehumidifier can’t be washed and so must be replaced.
The manual to our dehumidifier tells us to hoover our activated carbon filter every couple of weeks and to replace it every 3-6 months.
Most dehumidifiers will automatically turn off when the water tank is full.
If that is the case, emptying the tank should solve the problem.
The fill sensor could also malfunction, which would present as the indicator light for a full reservoir being on when the bucket is not yet full.
If you’re emptying your tank too frequently, you may need a larger dehumidifier.
Dehumidifier sizes are measured by how much moisture they can pull out of the air in a 24-hour period. When choosing the right size, there are many things to take into account, including:
- The natural humidity of your space
- The square footage of the area your unit is in
- The length of time per day you want to run your dehumidifier
Choosing the right dehumidifier for your space is very important to achieving the humidity level that is most comfortable for you and ensuring that you’re not emptying the water tank too often.
Refrigerant dehumidifiers typically need to be in a room that is at least 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees C) to function properly.
Anything less than that can cause the unit to struggle or shut off. Try moving it to a warmer room or adjusting your AC temperature.
Some dehumidifiers operate using coils while others do not. If your model has coils and they look frosty, this is the most likely reason for your dehumidifier turning off.
If yours is a model without coils, the only way to tell if the air temperature is your problem is to warm up your space and wait to see if the unit stops switching off.
See our other article on how and why a dehumidifier freezes up for more information about room temperature and dehumidifiers.
Many dehumidifiers have a feature called a humidistat that allows you to choose your target humidity level.
Check your humidistat to make sure that it is set at an appropriate level, which is typically between 30 to 50 percent.
If your setting is too high, the unit will not stay on.
Your humidistat sensor may also be defective.
If this is the case, your unit is not properly measuring the humidity in the air. A tool called a hygrometer is needed to confirm this, but you can check the wiring to the humidistat to make sure that the wires are properly connected and in good shape.
You should always place your dehumidifier where it will work the best. If you have a specific source of humidity, it should be placed nearby.
Common sources of humidity can be:
- Laundry rooms
- Sump pumps
- Air conditioner units
If you’re trying to get rid of general atmospheric humidity, then place your dehumidifier in the room that you want to see the most effect. For most people, this would be a living room or bedroom.
Placement also matters. Your unit should have good airflow and, especially in large rooms, should be placed centrally for maximum effect.
Without adequate airflow, your humidistat reading will not be accurate. Your unit will keep shutting off since it is only getting a reading for the immediate area.
If the fan in your dehumidifier is not functioning properly, the unit will stop working.
Open your dehumidifier and give the fan a push to make sure it is freely rotating. If it does not move or there is significant resistance, give the fan and its components a thorough cleaning. You can safely use a mixture of water and vinegar for this.
Check the fan bearings for any kind of jam. Hair or strings caught in fan bearings is a common problem. A sluggish fan can cause problems with other parts in your dehumidifier, so this is an important step.
Unless you have experience in electrical work, problems of this nature should generally be handled by professionals, but troubleshooting can be done at home.
Before beginning, it is a good idea to peruse the parts diagram in the owner’s manual for your specific model to understand how your unit works.
While unplugged, check the cord of your unit for defects.
- Cuts or kinks along the wire.
- Visible wiring poking through
- Problems at the base of the cord going into the product
- Melted casing
- Burn marks or melted plastic on or around the plug prongs
- Loose plug prongs
If you discover any of these problems, replacing your cord should fix your problem. If you’re not able to do this yourself, it’s generally an inexpensive repair at a shop.
If your cord looks fine, open your dehumidifier and look for obvious electrical issues such as burn marks. Plug the unit in and attempt to run it for a minute to watch for sparks.
Significant grime buildup can also cause electrical malfunctions and shorted connections, so this is a good opportunity to clean out your unit.
If you see any obvious electrical problems, do not continue to run your dehumidifier and immediately unplug it.
Seek out a licensed professional to repair the problem or replace the unit altogether.
It may be tempting to try to repair your unit but the safety risks far outweigh the benefits.
Check your dehumidifier model for recalls, which are usually issued because of faulty parts that can cause malfunction.
Registering your product is also a great way to stay informed about potential recalls.
If you find your unit on the recall list, stop troubleshooting and check the manufacturer’s website for their recall process. Worst case, tampering with it might void the replacement or refund.
In the event of a recall, the company will typically supply you with either a replacement part or a brand new dehumidifier. Others will simply refund you the purchase price of your unit so you can buy another one.
Whichever route they choose, the goal is to ensure that you have a safe and functioning product.
A dehumidifier can keep shutting off for a range of reasons but the most common can be dirty filters, a full water tank, low air temperatures, wrong humidity settings or placing the dehumidifier in the wrong location.
Other more serious issues can be electrical or mechanical malfunctions which may require professional assistance.
Staying on top of cleaning and maintenance can mean less money out of your pocket and a more comfortable environment.