How to Drain a Dehumidifier

If you’re looking for effective humidity control, dehumidifiers are extremely useful and in some places even necessary during hot and humid summer months. Dehumidifiers process the air and remove the excess moisture. This moisture forms into condensate, which you will need to throw out manually or drain automatically.

Full-size dehumidifiers give you an option for continuous draining through a drain hose. Some high-capacity units also come with a built-in condensate pump. Alternatively, you can use an external condensate pump. If you’re not sure which drainage system is most convenient for you, then keep reading and we’ll discuss each of your options below.

Manual Draining

Most dehumidifiers for homes have an internal water bucket which holds the collected moisture. Depending on the size of your dehumidifier and the amount of moisture present in the room, manual draining may be the easiest, but usually not the most convenient. 

This method is straightforward and really easy to follow. Modern dehumidifiers of any size are equipped with the automatic shut-off function which will turn off the unit when the water bucket is nearly full. This also includes a full bucket indicator light as well as an audible alert so you won’t have to monitor the water level.

How to Drain a Dehumidifier Manually

  • Once the tank is full and the dehumidifier is shut off, remove the water tank by simply sliding it out from its place. 
  • Remove the cover or plug and pour the water into the sink, drain, or use the dehumidifier water to water your plants
  • Rinse the tank or wash it with mild soap if necessary. 
  • Wipe it down and place it back into the dehumidifier. 

The tank size of dehumidifiers vary greatly between brands and models. Small Peltier dehumidifiers typically have a tank large enough to hold at least two days up to a week’s worth of moisture. Full-size compressor and desiccant models have a much smaller tank capacity than the maximum amount of moisture they can remove in 24 hours. This means you may have to empty the tank multiple times a day.

This can be inconvenient if you have high humidity or if you need to leave the room where the dehumidifier is operating. In this case, you’ll need to set up automatic drainage. You can choose from three common ways to automatically drain your dehumidifier: through gravity drainage, an external condensate pump, or a built-in condensate pump. 

Note: Although fine for watering your plants, it is not a good idea to drink water from a dehumidifier. That’s because mold and bacteria can accumulate in the tank, which is typically not intended to be a food safe storage container for human consumption.

Automatic Gravity Draining

If you don’t want to have to remove and replace your dehumidifier’s tank to empty the water multiple times a day, use a drain hose to automatically drain the water. Some brands include this and a drainage adapter with your purchase, but usually all you’ll need is a standard garden hose. This is the most common option for full-size dehumidifiers.

How to Drain a Dehumidifier Automatically with Drain Hose

  • Place the dehumidifier on a uniform surface with a low-level drain nearby. 
  • Locate the drain port, usually at the back or sometimes on the side of the unit.
  • Unscrew the drain plug or cap and insert the hose. Some units will need an adapter to attach the hose, others may require you to remove the water tank and reach under the unit to secure the attachment.
  • Position the other end of the hose towards the drain.
  • Turn on the dehumidifier to start continuous operation.

Things to Consider When Using Gravity Drainage

Since this type of drainage only works through gravity, the drain must be lower than the dehumidifier. The hose has to be directed downwards without any kinks, knots, or obstructions. Customers typically use a floor drain for this, but if there isn’t one in the room, you can place a small dehumidifier on top of a counter and direct the hose to the sink.

You also need to make sure you operate your dehumidifier on a flat surface for proper functioning. If the ground is uneven, say in an unfinished basement or crawl space, you can raise the dehumidifier with pieces of wood, metal, or risers made for dehumidifiers. Alternatively, you can use a hanging kit to ensure the unit is on a level surface higher than the drain.

Automatic External Condensate Pumps

Perhaps the most convenient way to drain your dehumidifier is via a condensate pump. With a pump, you don’t need to worry about the level of your drain. You can pump the water into a sink or out of a window. Most pumps can push water up to 15 feet vertically or horizontally. It’s ideal for basements or other large spaces where a floor drain is not available.

Most high-capacity units (40-pint or 50-pint and above) have a built-in pump version. But for those that do not include an internal condensate pump, you can purchase an external condensate pump separately. These models work for a variety of dehumidifiers as well as other HVAC equipment. Some brands like Aprilaire and Santa Fe also offer an external pump and hose kit to install with selected dehumidifier models.  

How to Install an External Condensate Pump

  • Place your dehumidifier next to the condensate pump.
  • Connect a hose to the drain port of your dehumidifier.
  • Place the other end of the hose into the standalone pump.
  • Attach another hose to the condensate pump and direct it towards a sink, window, or sump.
  • Turn on the dehumidifier and the external pump.
  • When the external pump fills up, it will push the water out into your desired location.

Draining a Dehumidifier with Built-in Pump

A built-in condensate pump works in the same way as an external pump, except you will only need one hose for drainage (usually included with the unit) since the pump is already installed inside the machine. You don’t have to raise the dehumidifier or find a floor drain. The internal pump can push the water up to a 15-feet height or 20-feet distance. 

Steps for Draining through a Built-in Pump

  • Place your dehumidifier on a flat surface.
  • Attach the hose into the drain port and make sure it is secure.
  • Direct the hose into a sink, out of a window, or any other location. 
  • Turn on the dehumidifier to start continuous operation.
  • Press the Pump button on the control panel to push out the water.

Most 50-pint units from top dehumidifier brands offer built-in pump functionality. These include Frigidaire, BLACK+DECKER, and Ivation. Commercial-grade dehumidifiers usually come with a built-in pump, or a brand-specific external pump kit.

Where to Drain Your Basement Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers are most commonly needed in the basement or crawl space of your home. Some places you can drain the water from your dehumidifier is a floor drain, sink, or a big bucket (at least bigger than the unit’s water collection bucket). If using the dehumidifier tank, it will be safer and more convenient if you have a sink or drain nearby for less chances of spilling when removing the tank and emptying the water.

You can also divert the collected moisture outside by drilling a small hole through your door and directing the hose into an outdoor drain. Some may prefer to direct the hose out of a window. You can even connect the hose to your sump pump or another drainage system. If using a condensate pump, make sure you observe the proper height limit and distance to avoid leaks.

Tips in Maintaining your Dehumidifier

To make drainage easier for you whichever option you choose, it’s important to get the right dehumidifier for your space. Find the best location and make sure the unit is placed on a proper level with all the doors and windows of the room closed. Maintain adequate distance from walls, furniture, or other appliances, to improve air circulation to and from the unit.

Although most dehumidifiers require little to no maintenance, it doesn’t hurt to keep it clean at all times. If you notice dust or grime collecting on the exterior of the unit, simply wipe it down with a dry cloth. Or, dampen a rag with diluted liquid soap for dirtier surfaces. Do not spray water or any cleaning solvents directly on the unit. 

Dehumidifiers usually come with a washable and reusable filter to catch dust and other impurities. Most filters can be washed with just water or liquid soap with water. Some dehumidifiers have an indicator to notify you when you need to remove and clean the filter. If necessary, replace the filter as instructed in the dehumidifier manual.

If using the collection bucket for manual draining, throw out the water as soon as you can. Don’t let the water sit for a long time or it might encourage mold growth. Empty the water completely and rinse the tank before you put it back into the unit. Additionally, disinfect the tank at least every two weeks. Fill it with liquid soap diluted in warm water or use white vinegar. Scrub every corner with a sponge, then rinse. Wipe the tank and allow it to fully dry before reinstalling.

If you’re using a drain hose, don’t forget to still check the tank and clean it in case there is standing water. Wash the hose with the same solution of soap or white vinegar. Pour the solution into one end and let it flush through the entire hose. If not in use, make sure it’s dry and stored properly.

Your dehumidifier can only be as effective and efficient as how well you maintain it. These are only some tips that you may follow to keep your unit functioning and draining properly for a long time. For more specific details, review the owner’s manual that comes with your unit.

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