How Long Should a Dehumidifier Last?

A dehumidifier is a valuable investment in both residential and commercial spaces with high humidity issues. However, some people may be concerned with the costs and you might wonder how long a dehumidifier typically lasts. The life of your dehumidifier depends on many factors, but on average, a standard dehumidifier can last five years up to ten years. 

The main factors that influence the dehumidifier lifespan are the brand and the build quality of the unit. The size and condition of your space If you invest in a high-quality dehumidifier, you can expect to use it for up to ten years provided with proper care and maintenance.

Depending on the climate in your area, you probably won’t need to run your dehumidifier for 24 hours every day. Heavier and longer use will likely lead to issues within a shorter time. To help your dehumidifier last longer, you must understand how it works and what you can do to clean and maintain it properly.

How Dehumidifiers Work

The purpose of a dehumidifier is to remove excess moisture from the air. There are two main types of dehumidifiers, defined by the moisture removal method they use: refrigerant and desiccant.

Refrigerant

A refrigerant or compressor dehumidifier uses condensation to pull moisture from the air. This type is most common for household use and it comes in a range of capacities, usually 20 to 50 pints per day. It draws in the humid air and passes it over the condensing coils. When the air cools down, it forms water that drips into a tank or out through a drain hose. With the moisture removed, the dried air is released back into the room. 

A standard refrigerant dehumidifier works well in humid and warm environments. Since it relies on condensation, the air has to be warmer than the coils or condensation won’t occur. Due to this, most refrigerant dehumidifiers cannot operate in temperatures below 41°F. When the condensate starts to freeze, the unit will go on defrost mode. Since there are hundreds of different models you can find on the market, this type can last anywhere from a few seasons up to a decade.

Desiccant

Another type of dehumidifier is called a desiccant since it uses some type of desiccant material that extracts moisture from the air through absorption or adsorption. It is further classified into different types based on the coverage, capacity, and renewability of each unit. There are disposable desiccants, rechargeable units, and full-sized desiccant dehumidifiers similar to small compressor units.

Disposable moisture absorbers and rechargeable dehumidifiers are commonly used in tiny spaces such as closets, cabinets, or RVs and cars. They usually last four to six weeks for standard units or up to three months for larger ones. For disposable units, you need to replace them after each use. But for rechargeable units, you can reuse them repeatedly for years.

A full-sized desiccant dehumidifier looks similar to a small refrigerant unit but the desiccant is lighter and quieter since it doesn’t have a compressor. This type of dehumidifier is ideal in low temperatures since it doesn’t need to cool the air to remove the moisture. Compared to refrigerant models, there are also fewer risks of frost buildup since there is a heater consistently warming the inside of the machine. Also, it has fewer components that can malfunction and should last around five years if provided with proper care.

What Are the Factors That Impact A Dehumidifier’s Lifespan?

Your dehumidifier should last from a few years up to a decade (or more!) depending on its quality, the frequency and duration of use, the amount of moisture it has to remove, and ultimately, how well you care for and maintain it.

Dehumidifier Type and Size

The dehumidifier size refers to its capacity for moisture removal. Getting the right dehumidifier size for your space can greatly impact its effectiveness and efficiency. We’ve talked about the two main types of dehumidifiers and each of them is suitable for different room sizes and conditions. To find the right dehumidifier size for your room, measure the total area it has to dehumidify. It’s also important to know the relative humidity level before you run the dehumidifier and get the next bigger size than you might need. This way, the dehumidifier won’t have to work at the highest settings all the time to help prolong its life.

Portable Dehumidifier

The most common dehumidifiers used at home are the portable compressor units typically ranging from 20 to 50 pints. They are recommended for small to large rooms with varying levels of humidity. Depending mainly on the brand and your usage, standard portable dehumidifiers can last up to five years on average, or upward of ten years for high-quality brands such as Frigidaire.

Mini Dehumidifier

Small dehumidifiers for tiny rooms commonly use Peltier technology for whisper-quiet and low-energy dehumidification. These mini dehumidifiers are manufactured overseas for cheaper costs and may not be as durable, lasting about three to five years. Full-sized desiccants can also be considered a mini dehumidifier, ranging from 10 to 20 pints in capacity. They are less common than both compressor and Peltier dehumidifiers but should last around the same time as the larger units.

Whole-house Dehumidifier

This type of dehumidifier can connect directly to your HVAC system for optimal humidity and air quality in the whole house. It’s built with more durable, heavy-duty materials to withstand harsh conditions and cover more ground. With proper care and maintenance, you can also use them for five to ten years.

Usage

The frequency and duration of usage or how often and how long you run your dehumidifier can definitely affect its lifespan. If you run it for 24 hours, seven days a week, it is likely to suffer natural wear and tear faster. In general, it’s enough to operate your dehumidifier for eight hours a day when relative humidity is the highest. Even better if you only use it during particular months or seasons. When not in use, it must be packed up and stored where it’s safe and dry until you need it again. The dehumidifier placement can also affect the unit’s condition. From installation, using, cleaning, and maintenance, there should be more specific instructions in the manual. 

Temperature

The operating temperature can have a big impact on your dehumidifier’s life. Dehumidifiers generally work well in warm temperatures above 65°F, varying depending on the size and type of dehumidifier. Low temperatures can cause the condensate to freeze inside the unit. Trying to operate your dehumidifier beyond its recommended operating temperature can damage the unit’s internal components and shorten its life.

Humidity Levels

Dehumidifiers remove moisture more effectively in warm and humid climates. Residential dehumidifiers should be set to dehumidify your space down to 30% to 50% RH for your comfort. Anything beyond this range can become harmful to your health and damaging to the house. Some parts of the house may have excess humidity. Depending on the level of dampness in the space, its location in the house, the activities performed in the space, and the number of occupants inside, the job may be harder for your dehumidifier.

Brand

The dehumidifier brand also helps determine the quality and expected lifespan of the unit. Cheaper, lesser-known brands typically use cheap materials for lower costs, which you can expect to have lower quality. However, it doesn’t mean that the most expensive dehumidifier is always the best, but higher quality usually comes at a higher price. Look for customer reports or user reviews and they will tell you which brands provide the most reliable products in the long run. Brands that have been around for longer also have more experience in customer service and usually have a more reliable warranty.

How to Make Your Dehumidifier Last Longer: Usage and Maintenance Tips

In order to get your dehumidifier to work efficiently for a long time, the following usage and maintenance tips can help.

Find the right size dehumidifier.

The dehumidifier size is the most essential factor in choosing a dehumidifier for any space. An undersized unit will have to work harder for longer, while an oversized unit might consume too much. The idea is to find a good balance to maximize the unit’s efficiency. Manufacturers usually indicate the room size recommended for each dehumidifier.

Keep your dehumidifier clean.

Frequent cleaning is a critical step in maintaining your dehumidifier. Any dust, dirt, or other impurities in the air will accumulate inside the unit or on the filter and circulate with the air. To ensure your health and comfort and protect your dehumidifier, clean the filters at least every few weeks or once a month. The filters in most units are easily removable and washable and some dehumidifiers include an indicator light to remind you when to clean the air filter. Check the manual to find the recommended schedule. 

If you’re using the water tank, it’s also important to keep it clean. Throw out the water as soon as you can then rinse the tank each time you empty the water and wash it with soap at least twice a week. You can also use a damp cloth to wipe the exterior of the unit and vacuum the inside to remove any dust.

Inspect the coils for frost.

If you run the unit at low temperatures, the condensate may freeze on the coils, which can damage them. Most dehumidifiers have auto-defrost that will turn off the unit to give the ice time to melt. While this may sound convenient, it’s still prudent to inspect the coils when the temperature drops and turn it off manually to avoid future problems. Cold air is usually dry anyway but if you must use a dehumidifier during this time, find a model specifically designed for lower temperatures.

Limit usage.

You can help reduce your need for a dehumidifier by reducing moisture through alternative ways. For one, you can turn on fans in your house to increase the airflow. Alternatively, open doors and windows to let the cooler air in. If you can’t open your windows, run your air conditioner. For small spaces with excess moisture, you can use natural desiccants found in your kitchen such as rock salt, baking soda, or charcoal.

Remove the source of humidity.

If the humidity in your home is still high even while using a dehumidifier, you must find the humidity source. Check your plumbing for any leak or burst pipes and your gutters for any clogs. Make sure to open a window or run an exhaust fan when cooking or showering to keep moisture and odors out as much as possible. Hang your wet laundry outside or, if possible, use a dryer. 

FAQ

How long does it take for a dehumidifier to work?

This depends on the dehumidifier’s capacity as well as the room size and humidity. A portable dehumidifier may take 6 to 12 hours to achieve your target levels from scratch. Whole-house units may take even longer, usually 24 to 48 hours.

Should a dehumidifier run all day?

Usually, you won’t need to run your dehumidifier constantly after the initial dehumidification. Ideally, you should only turn it on when humidity reaches above 50%. Some units manage this automatically. 

How do I know if my dehumidifier is working?

The easiest way to tell if a dehumidifier is working is if there are changes in humidity. Check the humidity display on the dehumidifier panel or on a separate hygrometer. You should also check if there is water collected in the tank. If you’ve been using the unit for three to five years or longer, you may start to notice some issues and this is normal.

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