Effective humidity control can be achieved in your home using a high-capacity portable dehumidifier. It removes excess moisture from the air to maintain optimal humidity levels. Most dehumidification processes result in condensate, which can be collected in a built-in reservoir or drained through a hose or pump.
Most dehumidifiers offer a continuous draining option through a drain hose, while some high-capacity units also include an internal condensate pump. A pump pushes the water out of the dehumidifier in any direction. You can have the hose positioned vertically to divert the water outside or any drain location higher than the dehumidifier up to a certain height. Alternatively, you can use an external condensate pump to use this functionality.
If you’re not sure which drainage system offers the most convenient option for you, keep reading to learn about each of them below.
Ways to Remove the Collected Moisture From Dehumidifier
Depending on the type and size of the dehumidifier, it gives you multiple options for the drainage system you can use. The default option is usually through a water collection reservoir, but continuous drainage is more common for commercial and whole-house models. Each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages over the others.
Most portable dehumidifiers have a water tank that should be large enough to hold the collected moisture for at least a few hours of continuous operation. Depending on the dehumidifier capacity and the current humidity in the room, manual draining may be the easiest option.
For one, this method is straightforward—just remove the tank and dump the water. Modern dehumidifiers are equipped with automatic shut-off that shuts off the unit when the water tank is nearly full. This also includes a full tank indicator light to let you know when you need to empty the water.
The tank size varies greatly between brands and models. Mini dehumidifiers typically have a tank large enough to hold at least two days’ worth of moisture. Full-size refrigerant models have a much smaller tank capacity compared to the moisture removal capacity. This means you may have to empty the tank multiple times a day.
This can be inconvenient if you need to leave the room where the dehumidifier is running. In this case, you can choose from one of the automatic drainage options available: gravity drainage, an external condensate pump, or a built-in condensate pump.
Automatic Gravity Drainage
If you don’t want to empty the water tank multiple times a day, most dehumidifiers allow you to use a drain hose for the gravity drain option. Some dehumidifier models include drain hoses with the unit, but usually, all you need is a standard garden hose with the right fittings.
To enable gravity drainage, first, you must place the dehumidifier on a flat, steady surface close to a low-level drain. Locate the drain outlet (usually at the back or on the side), unscrew the drain plug or cap, then connect the hose. Some dehumidifiers may need an adapter to attach the hose. Make sure to secure the hose connection to prevent leaking. A few models may require you to remove the tank and reach under the unit to secure the hose attachment.
Since this type of drainage relies on gravity, remember that the drain must be lower than the dehumidifier. Direct the hose downhill flat on the ground without any obstruction to the water flow. You can place the unit on an even floor if you have a nearby drain, or on top of a table or counter to drain the water into a sink or bucket.
Dehumidifier with Built-in Pump
For basements and other damp spaces without a low-level drain available for gravity drainage, a condensate pump is your best option. Most high-capacity dehumidifiers (from 40 to 50 pints and above) include a built-in pump with a hose. Commercial dehumidifiers usually come with an internal pump or a brand-specific external pump.
A built-in condensate pump activates when the water level in the container reaches a certain level. Since the pump is already built inside the unit, all you need to do is attach the hose to the right outlet. Note that this is different from the outlet for gravity drainage.
Place your dehumidifier on a flat surface, insert the hose, and make sure the connection is secure. Direct the hose up into a sink, out of a window, or any other location. You don’t need to elevate the dehumidifier or find a floor drain for proper drainage. Typically, the internal pump can push the water up to 15 feet above the dehumidifier.
External Condensate Pump
Although it’s less common, some high-capacity dehumidifiers may not include a built-in condensate pump. In this case, you may purchase an external pump separately. Some dehumidifier brands also offer a pump kit that works with most dehumidifier models. In most cases, external pumps give you the advantage of a more durable device. It also allows you to choose the pump head or maximum drain height, which we’ll talk about more a bit later. An external pump can also be used to drain condensate from other air quality appliances.
Most condensate pumps push water up to 15 feet vertically with a drain hose up to 20 feet long. They can work with different dehumidifier models as well as other HVAC equipment such as portable air conditioners.
To install an external pump, place it next to your dehumidifier. Connect one end of the hose to the drain outlet of the unit and the other to the pump. Attach another hose to the pump outlet and direct the other end towards a sink or sump or out of a window. Plug in and turn on the dehumidifier and the external pump. When the pump reservoir is full, it will automatically push the water to the drain location.
Types of Dehumidifiers With Pump
The most common type of dehumidifier for residential purposes is the refrigerant dehumidifier. High-capacity units of this type usually have a built-in pump version. If you have problems with high humidity in only a specific part of the house like a basement or garage, a portable unit is usually enough to control moisture.
However, if you have humidity issues in larger spaces or you simply want to cover the entire house with a single unit, you may need a high-capacity commercial-grade dehumidifier to add to your central HVAC system. Dehumidifiers for crawl space or the whole house typically come with an internal pump or at least an external pump within the same brand.
Significance of the Drain Height
When using a built-in pump, the water is collected in the tank. When it reaches a certain level, the pump will automatically activate to push out the water, typically up to 15 feet above the unit. Dehumidifiers include a hose for this function.
An external pump works the same way. It has a small internal tank (around 0.5 to 1 gallon) to collect the condensate. Water from the dehumidifier flows out through a hose into the pump. When the water reaches a certain level, the float switch will trigger the motor which pumps out the water up to a certain height.
The pump head is the maximum height at which the pump can push out the water. When choosing an external pump, it will be useful to take note of this specification. The rate of the water flow will vary depending on the elevation at the end of the hose. The higher it is, the slower the pump can push out the water. The standard is 15 feet while high-powered units can go up to 20 feet and beyond.
Dehumidifier With Pump vs No Pump
In most cases, continuous drainage via gravity is all you need for convenient draining. However, a condensate pump is ideal for high-humidity basements or other large spaces where a floor drain is not available.
Both options offer more convenience than manually draining the water from your dehumidifier tank. You can leave the unit running continuously without ever worrying about water overflowing from a full tank. But with a pump, you also don’t need to worry about the placement of the dehumidifier with respect to the drain area. And so, a dehumidifier with a pump presents both convenience and versatility you cannot get from other drainage options.
For instance, you can place the dehumidifier on the ground and drain the water into the sink. You could have a dehumidifier in the crawl space or basement and drain the water out of a window or into your sump pump with no worries.
One disadvantage of using a dehumidifier with a pump is the cost. Since it has an additional machine inside, a dehumidifier with a built-in pump consumes more energy when running. Thus, you can expect higher electricity costs. Likewise, the initial cost is higher when you purchase a dehumidifier with a pump. Overall, it is both convenient and costly, so it is up to you to decide if the convenience is worth the costs to you.
How to Use and Maintain your Dehumidifier with a Built-in Pump
Compared to external condensate pumps, built-in pumps generally tend to be less durable. However, proper care and maintenance go a long way to keep all components functioning efficiently for a long time.
Firstly, it’s important to make sure you use the right dehumidifier type and size for your space. Whether you decide to go with a built-in pump dehumidifier, look for a unit with an Energy Star rating to guarantee its energy efficiency and help you save on your utility bills.
When placing your dehumidifier, maintain a few inches of distance from other items. Drainage shouldn’t be a huge problem now with a condensate pump, but be sure of your designated drainage area. Secure all pieces of the hose connection to prevent spilling water.
Proper dehumidifier maintenance also includes frequent cleaning. Dehumidifiers usually don’t require much upkeep, especially with a pump, but you must still check and clean your unit at least every week or two. Each model has specific guidelines for cleaning indicated in the manual.
The basic step is to wipe off any dust or grime on the exterior and clean or replace the air filter. Filters are typically reusable and easy to wash. If necessary, you may also replace the filter. Even if you’re not using the bucket to collect water, you must always check it and remove any standing water to prevent mold growth. Clean the tank and the drain hose with warm soapy water at least every two weeks.
If you have a refrigerant dehumidifier, you must also inspect the coils for frost when temperatures drop. Buildup of frost can damage the coils and other components. Most dehumidifiers have an auto defrost function that will shut off the unit to melt the ice. Even with this feature, you should regularly inspect the coils to ensure everything is working properly. While defrosting, you may notice water dripping into the tank or out through the hose.
These are only some tips that you may follow to keep your dehumidifier and its pump functioning and draining properly. For more specific concerns, review the owner’s manual that comes with your unit or contact the manufacturer. In case your pump doesn’t work or any other problem occurs, we recommend you ask for help from a licensed technician to fix your unit.