Typical Dehumidifier Lifespan – How Long Does a Dehumidifier Last?

A dehumidifier is often the best solution to high humidity in both residential and commercial spaces. However, the costs may have you wondering, how long does a dehumidifier typically last? The lifespan of your dehumidifier is influenced by many factors. Usually, it depends on the manufacturer and the quality of the materials used to build the unit. On average, a standard household dehumidifier can last up to five years. With proper care and maintenance, a high-quality model can be perfectly functional for up to ten years, but you’ll have to invest a huge amount for one of these units.

Dehumidifiers work to remove moisture in the air, and in most cases, you won’t need to run the unit for 24 hours all year round. Although, this may be necessary for some climates with high relative humidity. The more you use it, the more likely you are to encounter issues in your dehumidifier early on. To maximize your dehumidifier’s lifespan, you must understand the factors that can affect it as well as the simple steps you can do to maintain your unit properly.

Types of Dehumidifiers

The basic purpose of a dehumidifier is to reduce indoor humidity through different methods. The two main types of dehumidifiers are classified by the dehumidification process they use.

Refrigeration

Refrigerant or compressor dehumidifiers are most common in household use. This type primarily uses condensation to extract moisture from the air. A fan draws in humid air and passes it over the cold coils. As the air temperature decreases, the moisture condenses and drips into a water tank or flows out through a drain hose. Once the moisture is extracted, the dryer air is then reheated before it is exhausted back into the room. 

Because of this process, a refrigerant dehumidifier is ideal in warm and humid climates. Since this type relies on condensation, the air must be warmer than the coils or the moisture will not condense. Because of this, most refrigerant units can only dehumidify in temperatures as low as 41°F. Otherwise, condensate may freeze inside the machine when temperatures drop. 

Refrigeration Flow

Desiccant

The second type of dehumidifier uses a desiccant or a substance that extracts moisture from the air through absorption or adsorption. There are also different types of desiccant dehumidifiers depending on the capacity, coverage, and renewability. 

Disposable moisture absorbers and rechargeable dehumidifiers are common in tiny spaces such as closets, cabinets, and cars. They usually last four to six weeks while larger buckets of moisture absorbers can take moisture for up to three months.

A full-size desiccant dehumidifier is almost the same in appearance and capacity as small refrigerant models but lighter and quieter since the former does not use compressors. Instead, it has a desiccant wheel filled with silica gel. Humid air from the room is drawn into the dehumidifier and runs through a part of the desiccant wheel. Moisture clings to the surface of the silica gel, then the dryer is reheated and released into the room. 

The process air passes through the remaining part of the rotor where it absorbs the moisture, reactivating the desiccant material. This warm, moist air passes through a condenser, forming water droplets. Desiccant dehumidifiers are ideal for use in low temperatures since they don’t need to cool the air to remove the moisture. As opposed to refrigerant models, there are fewer risks of frost buildup since the heater constantly warms the inside of the machine. They have fewer components that can malfunction and should last around five years with proper use.

Desiccant Flow

What Are the Factors That Impact Dehumidifier Average Lifespan?

Dehumidifier Size

The dehumidifier size refers to its capacity for moisture removal. Finding the right size for your space makes for a highly effective and efficient dehumidifier. To find the right size, consider the area of the room you need to dehumidify. Also, take note of the humidity levels or the degree of dampness before you run the dehumidifier. It may be better to get the next bigger size than you initially need so that the dehumidifier won’t have to work at the highest settings all the time.

Portable Dehumidifier

The most common residential dehumidifiers are the portable type typically ranging from 20 to 50 pints. They are good for small to large rooms with high humidity. Depending mainly on the brand and quality, they can last up to five years on average, or even longer for high-end brands.

Mini Dehumidifier

Small dehumidifiers for tiny rooms use Peltier technology for quiet operation and low consumption. These mini dehumidifiers are manufactured overseas for cheaper costs and may not be as durable, lasting about three to five years.

Whole-house Dehumidifier

These commercial-grade whole-house dehumidifiers connect directly to your HVAC system to give you control over the humidity in the entire house. They are built with heavy-duty materials to withstand harsh conditions and last longer. With proper maintenance, you can use them for five to ten years.

Aprilaire 1820 Whole-house Dehumidifier

Aprilaire 1820 Whole-house Dehumidifier

Usage

The frequency and duration of usage can definitely affect the dehumidifier’s lifespan. Running the unit 24 hours, seven days a week is likely to cause more wear and tear, as opposed to only using it, say 8 hours a day, or only during particular months or seasons. From installation to usage, follow the manual’s instructions. Find the best location for the unit and make sure there is enough space around it.

Temperature and Relative Humidity

The operating temperature also influences the performance and lifespan of a dehumidifier. Most units are designed to operate in warm temperatures above 65°F. Using your dehumidifier in low temperatures can cause condensate to freeze inside, damaging the compressor and reducing the unit’s life.

Dehumidifiers remove moisture more effectively in warm and humid climates. Residential dehumidifiers can lower humidity down to 30% to 50% to maintain comfort. Anything below this can be considered harmful to your health and the house structure. Depending on the level of dampness in the space, its location in the house, and the number of occupants, the job may be harder for your dehumidifier.

Brand

The brand or manufacturer also helps determine the quality and longevity of a dehumidifier. Cheap, unknown brands typically use low-quality materials for reduced costs. It doesn’t mean that the most expensive dehumidifier is the best, but usually, higher quality comes at a higher price. Real user ratings and reviews will tell you which brands are most reputable in terms of build quality and design. Brands that have been around for a longer period also have more experience in providing what customers need 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.

Use the right size dehumidifier.

The size or capacity is the most essential factor you must consider when choosing a dehumidifier for any space. Using the right size maximizes its effectiveness and efficiency. If you use an undersized unit, it has to work harder for a longer period, while still not accomplishing the task effectively. 

To find the right size for your space, measure the length and width of the area you need to dehumidify. If you notice visible signs of moisture like condensation, mold, or rust on metal, you need a more powerful unit. Manufacturers usually indicate the coverage area recommended for each dehumidifier. To guarantee efficiency and help save energy, look for the Energy Star label.

Put in the right settings.

Many dehumidifiers come with a humidistat to automatically adjust the humidity to your desired level. It’s important that you pick the right humidity level to avoid overworking the unit. The ideal range is around 30-50% depending on the ambient temperature. As much as possible, only keep your dehumidifier running when the humidity is above 50%. This way you’re causing less stress on the machine and also saving energy.

Keep your dehumidifier clean.

Frequent cleaning helps maintain proper functioning and prolong the life of your dehumidifier. As it draws the air in, dust, mold spores, and bacteria may also enter the device through the exhaust grilles and air filter. These will accumulate inside the unit and circulate with the air. 

To ensure your health and comfort and help your dehumidifier last long, clean the filters at least every few weeks. Most air filters are easily washable and some dehumidifiers include an indicator light to remind you when to clean the filters. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on filter cleaning and replacement to be sure. 

If you’re using the water collection bucket, it’s also important to keep it clean and throw out the water as soon as possible. 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.

Never turn on the unit immediately after turning it off.

Do not short cycle the dehumidifier. When you turn off the unit, wait for at least ten minutes to turn it on again. This time gap allows the machine to equalize the pressure manufactured during operation. Short cycling can cause the unit to overheat and eventually damage the compressor.

Inspect the condenser coils for frost or ice buildup.

If you run the unit in cool temperatures, the condensate may freeze on the cooling coils. Frost buildup can damage the machine, but most dehumidifiers have the auto-defrost function that shuts off the unit to allow the ice to melt. Although, even with this feature, make sure to inspect the coils when the temperature drops to prevent any problems. Cold air is usually drier but if you really need a dehumidifier, find a model specifically designed for this purpose.

Limit your usage.

You can reduce your need for a dehumidifier by removing moisture through other methods. Run your fans to increase the airflow. Fans help circulate the air and they require less maintenance. Open your doors, windows, or vents to exchange the humid air with some fresh air.

 If you can’t open your windows, run your air conditioner. As the AC cools down the air, it can also reduce humidity. For small rooms, you can also use natural moisture absorbers found in your kitchens such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), rock salt, or charcoal.

Remove humidity sources.

If indoor humidity is consistently high even after using a dehumidifier for a while, you must get to the root cause and fix it immediately. Check your plumbing if there’s a leak or burst pipes. Clogged gutters can also raise humidity levels so make sure to keep them clean and clear. 

Some common household activities can cause humidity as well. When you take a shower or cook, make sure to open a window or run an exhaust fan. Avoid hanging wet laundry indoors, or use a dryer or fan or hang them outside if possible.

FAQ

How many hours does it take for a dehumidifier to work?

It depends mainly on the room size and the humidity level. On average, it may take 6 to 12 hours of continuous operation to achieve your target level. For whole-home units, it may take 24 to 48 hours.

Should a dehumidifier run all day?

In most cases, it is not necessary for a dehumidifier to run for 24 hours every day. Ideally, you should only run the unit when humidity is above 50%.

How do I know if my dehumidifier is working?

The most obvious way to tell if a dehumidifier is working effectively is if there are changes in relative humidity. Check the humidity display on the panel or a separate hygrometer. You should also check if the tank is collecting water. If you’ve been using the unit for three to five years or longer and you notice it’s not working as it usually would, the best thing to do is to get an expert to examine the unit.

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