Excess humidity poses a serious problem in your home if left unattended for long. To effectively control humidity levels, portable dehumidifiers are extremely beneficial in residential areas, especially during hot and humid summer days. Dehumidifiers use different methods to reduce humidity, but they usually produce condensate from the excess moisture extracted from the air. You can empty this collected water manually or drain it automatically with a hose or pump.
Many dehumidifiers today offer an option for gravity drainage through a drain hose. This hose is usually not included with the unit but a standard garden hose should work for a majority of standard compressor dehumidifiers. Some bigger units may even come with a built-in condensate pump for more convenience.
If you don’t know how a gravity draining dehumidifier works, then keep reading to find out if gravity drainage is best for your unit.
Portable dehumidifiers are designed with a water bucket that collects the moisture extracted from the air. For standard compressor dehumidifiers, the capacity of this bucket is usually about a quarter or a third of the moisture removal capacity of the unit (or around 14 to 16 pints for a 50-pint dehumidifier). The total amount of water your dehumidifier collects in a day depends mainly on the size and condition of the room.
Depending on the dehumidifier and tank size, manual draining may be the easiest way to drain the water. All you have to do is remove the tank and empty the water or save it for later use. Most dehumidifiers feature an automatic shut-off that turns off the dehumidifier automatically when the water in the bucket reaches a certain level, as well as a full bucket indicator light to notify you when you need to empty the water.
The bucket capacity varies greatly between brands and models, but if you want your dehumidifier to run continuously, prepare to empty the water tank multiple times a day. If this is inconvenient, then the gravity drain system is the best option for you.
Not everyone has the time to remove the bucket and manually drain the dehumidifier water multiple times a day, especially if you’re using the dehumidifier in the basement or any humid space in your home that you don’t frequently visit. If this is the case, drain hoses are the most common dehumidifier water removal option you can use.
What is a Gravity Drain Dehumidifier?
A gravity drain dehumidifier offers a drain hose option for continuous drainage. A few brands include this with the unit, but usually, all you need is a standard garden hose.
Gravity drainage is fairly simple, you just connect the hose to the dehumidifier outlet, then let gravity do its job. Instead of collecting in the tank, the condensate flows out through the water hose connection. First, you must securely attach the hose to the proper drain port outlet. This may be located at the back or on the side of the unit (see image below). Some older models require an adapter to attach the hose onto the drain plug but most of the newer ones no longer need this. A few may require you to remove the bucket and reach from under the unit to secure the hose.
Once you have connected the drain hose to the plug, position it downwards without any kinks or knots that can block the water flow, then direct the other end to the drain location. Since this type of dehumidifier relies on gravity, it must be placed higher than the nearby drain. Most people use a floor drain, sink, or any drain lower than the unit.
When using gravity drainage, make sure you place your dehumidifier on a flat, steady surface to avoid leaks or other problems. If the floor is uneven, you can raise the dehumidifier with pieces of wood, metal, or risers made for dehumidifiers. Alternatively, you can use a hanging accessory if your dehumidifier allows it to secure the unit’s placement higher than the drain.
For a list of the best gravity draining dehumidifiers, check out our articles for detailed reviews of the best basement dehumidifiers and the best whole-house dehumidifiers.
Another more convenient way to drain water from your dehumidifier is through a condensate pump. It can push the water up and away so you don’t need to worry about the level of the drain with respect to the dehumidifier. Most condensate pumps can push water up to 15 feet vertically or horizontally. You can have the hose run up into a sink or basement sump pump, out of a window, or any other suitable location.
Most high-capacity dehumidifiers (40-pint or 50-pint and above) have an internal condensate pump. Simply attach the hose to the proper outlet and activate the pump function. For those that do not include this feature, you can purchase an external condensate pump separately.
You can check our recommendations for the best external pump and dehumidifiers with a built-in pump.
Maintenance Tips for Your Gravity Drain Dehumidifier
To make drainage even easier for you, it’s important to get the right size Energy Star dehumidifier in the first place. Find the best location and make sure the unit is placed on a level higher than the drain. Most dehumidifiers require little maintenance, but it doesn’t hurt to keep your unit clean at all times. Wipe down any dust or grime on the exterior with a dry cloth or a damp rag for dirtier surfaces.
If you’re using the collection bucket, remember to remove the water as soon as possible. Don’t leave stagnant water inside for a long time as it can encourage mold growth. Empty the water and rinse the tank before you put it back into the unit. To ensure efficiency, disinfect the tank with diluted liquid soap or white vinegar at least every two weeks.
If you’re using a drain hose for automatic drainage, you must still check the tank and clean it of any standing water. Every few weeks, wash the hose with liquid soap or white vinegar diluted in warm water and let the solution flow through the entire hose. If not in use, detach it from the unit and make sure it’s dry before storing.
These are only some basic tips you can follow to use and drain your dehumidifier properly. For detailed instructions, consult your unit’s manual or contact the manufacturer.
Dehumidifiers in humid environments can produce huge amounts of condensate every day and it’s a hassle to have to empty water from the collection tank. Although most models automatically turn off when the reservoir is full, this means the unit will not be dehumidifying in the meantime, which can increase humidity again. If you’re worried about leaving your dehumidifier running, one solution is to utilize the gravity drainage available in most residential units. This way, it can continue operation and maintain your desired humidity without your supervision.