Dehumidifier Not Collecting Water—What’s the Problem?

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Excessive moisture in the air can cause issues like mold growth and unsightly condensation on the walls and ceilings, among other things. Installing a dehumidifier is one of the most effective ways to create a comfortable and healthy indoor atmosphere. But what if it unexpectedly malfunctions?

A dehumidifier not collecting water is one of the most common problems with such devices. Their ability to capture moisture (aka collecting water) from the air is crucial in keeping the ideal humidity level in your home.

So, what causes such an issue? Unfortunately, most of the factors at play here come from faulty internal parts. And they are not always easy to spot.

Below, we’ll talk about the possible reasons why your dehumidifier stops collecting water. We’ll also provide you with workable solutions so your unit continues to maintain your home’s relative humidity at a healthy level.

How Does a Dehumidifier Work?

A dehumidifier draws excess water vapor from humid air. It works by passing it through cooling coils and condensing the moisture. During the condensation process, the moisture gets converted into liquid. It then eventually drips down and collects in the unit’s water tank.

The device then releases cooler, drier air back into your home. This helps reduce the relative humidity (RH) to between 30 and 50 percent. Most dehumidifiers and humidifiers include an inbuilt hygrometer, which determines the relative humidity in your home.

So, do they work like air conditioners?

Not really, and it depends on the type of dehumidifier you have. While both use refrigeration cycles (most dehumidifiers are compressor-based), they play very different roles.

Air conditioning units cool the air temperature in your space. Dehumidifiers are handy devices that physically draw moisture from the air, creating a pleasant indoor environment for your family.

Why Is Your Dehumidifier Running but No Water?

There could be a few possible reasons for this issue, however, it can be hard to tell just by looking at your unit. 

Before you do anything, make sure that your dehumidifier is actually malfunctioning and that it’s running under ambient room temperature. Because more often than not, it could be the case of the absence of moisture in the air. If there aren’t enough moisture levels in the air, naturally your dehumidifier won’t collect water.

It may have absorbed all the moisture in the air after running day and night, so you can expect a significant drop in the amount of water it collects. And this is true even if you’ve never used a dehumidifier before.

But, if you’ve had that unit for a while and it suddenly stopped sucking up all the moisture from the air in your home, it could be due to a number of reasons. One clear sign that something is wrong is when there’s a high level of humidity in the room while your unit is running.

A word about desiccant dehumidifiers and compressor dehumidifiers: These are the two types of dehumidifiers, and what stops one from collecting water may be different from the other. A desiccant dehumidifier uses a desiccant material, such as silica gel, to take moisture out of the air.

Compressor dehumidifiers, on the other hand, use refrigeration to cool the air and extract moisture through cold coils.

If your dehumidifier uses desiccant, you can fix the issue by simply replacing the silica. You can also check for a blocked fan, condenser, or filter. However, as most dehumidifiers rely on compressors, the problem may be more common in them. And in most cases, it’s due to a faulty compressor.

Now, let’s dive into some common causes.

Stuck Float Switch

The float switch is the part in your dehumidifier that controls the amount of water in the inbuilt tank. It’s designed to detect when the water reaches a certain level in the unit’s tank. And it automatically switches off your dehumidifier or turns on an indicator to let you know that the tank needs to be emptied.

The float switch could stop your unit from collecting water if it gets caught in the “up” or “off” position. What happens is that it breaks the connection to the electronic control board and shuts down the humidifier.

This means that, regardless of whether the dehumidifier is running and absorbing moisture from the air, it won’t collect water. It simply isn’t functioning properly.

The float switch may occasionally become stuck. And this could play tricks on the electronic control board as if the tank is full when it really isn’t.

What To Do?

If you think this is causing the problem, try adjusting or removing the float mechanism and see if it starts working normally again. In some cases, you may have to exert a little more effort to get the switch back down if it’s stuck in the up position. You can also try cleaning the float switch or just replace it.

Clogged Drain Pipe

Instead of emptying the tank, some units come with a drain pipe. But sometimes it gets clogged. This can end up in water building up inside the unit, which could turn off a float switch and force it to shut down.

What To Do?

There are several culprits for clogged drain pipes. Think debris, grit, mineral deposits, and algae growth. The good news is that they are easy to unclog using a wet/dry vacuum or stick a brush to dislodge debris. To maintain proper water drainage from your unit, you should also inspect and clean this component regularly.

Failing Capacitor

Your dehumidifier’s capacitor is the electrical component responsible for running the compressor and fan motor in your unit. So, if your compressor dehumidifier has electric power but either of the two components fails to turn on, the capacitor may be faulty.

What happens next? The motor will overheat. And the fan motor that circulates the air through the humidifier won’t be able to operate at its peak.

What To Do?

It’s always a good idea to have a qualified technician examine and replace the defective component. They can help you identify what exactly is the issue. This way, you’ll be confident that you can use your dehumidifier safely again.

Faulty Overload

This component keeps the motor in the dehumidifier from overheating. It’s essentially a protective element that switches off the power to the motor if it consumes too much power.

If the overload device is tripped, it is usually due to a bad capacitor as we’ve mentioned earlier. It may end up detecting an overload condition incorrectly. This could suddenly turn off the motor while your dehumidifier is running. 

What To Do?

Again, it’s better to have a qualified technician inspect and resolve this because this involves working with electrical parts.

Dirty Air Filter

Clogged air filter? That’s probably why!

If your dehumidifier has a dirty air filter, it can cause the unit to stop collecting water, so why risk it?

Remember that the air filter in your dehumidifier captures dust, particles, and other impurities in the air. Over time, it can become clogged, restricting airflow. When there is poor air circulation in your unit, its efficiency suffers, as does its capacity to properly condense moisture.

What To Do?

Just clean it, plain and simple. It’s the simplest maintenance approach and it helps that most dehumidifiers have easy access to these air filters. Most of them are also made from thin plastic mesh and are easy to clean.

Clogged Coil

If the absence of airflow doesn’t come from a clogged air filter, then it’s likely the coil. Yes, the coil in your dehumidifier can get clogged with debris, though it’s a common occurrence like dirty air filters. These parts of the humidifier work hard in extracting moisture from the air.

What To Do?

The obvious. Just clean it. But you will need to disassemble the unit to access the coil and remove the dust and debris buildups. You can also use some compressed air, blowing the coils clean. But don’t overdo it and blast the dust further into them.

A spray intended for clearing coils can also help get rid of dirt in the component. This helps you to thoroughly clean the coil.

Frozen Evaporator Coil

So, you’ve checked the air filter and the coil, and they are clean and are working fine but there’s restricted airflow. Another potential cause may be due to frozen coils.

This component in your refrigerant dehumidifier is in charge of extracting moisture from the air by condensing it onto the coil and then storing it in the tank. It’s normal for the evaporator coil to get extremely cold. But if it freezes, it interferes with airflow.

One telltale sign of a frozen evaporator coil is the formation of frost in it. This might also be due to a defective frost-sensing element or auto-defrost feature in your dehumidifier.

What To Do?

There’s nothing else you can do but wait for the ice to melt away. If it’s caused by a bad freeze-protection element, then you may need to have that replaced. It will be easier for you to find a compatible part by contacting the manufacturer.


How Do I Know if My Dehumidifier Is Not Working?

The most common way to tell if your dehumidifier isn’t working is when it stops water collection while running. This problem can be caused by various reasons we’ve mentioned above. Another clear indication is if the dehumidifier is leaking water onto your floor or if it’s producing unusually loud noises while it’s on. The amount of water a dehumidifier should collect in a day varies based on it’s capacity – learn more here.

It may also start collecting frost when the humidity level in your home is at its highest. Whatever the cause may be, it’s always a good idea to consult the manufacturer for warranty or repair parts.

Should Dehumidifier Collect Water?

Yes. Dehumidifiers are designed to extract moisture from the air. These devices have an inbuilt tank or bucket where it collects the water from the humid air. It’s always a good idea to empty the tank or connect it to a drain to give it a chance to work properly.


If your dehumidifier is not collecting water, it can be attributed to various factors that involve its components. Whether it’s a blocked air filter, a stuck float switch, or a faulty unit, it’s crucial to identify and address these underlying issues to keep it running at its peak.

Consider inspecting your unit for any signs of damage or failure. Consulting with the manufacturer or a professional to diagnose the problem can also save you a lot of hassle.

But most importantly, proper care and maintenance is key.

If you have more questions regarding the issue you currently have with your dehumidifier, you may reach out to us and we’ll be pleased to help. Thanks for reading!

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