Dehumidifiers are often the most effective solution in high-humidity environments. Excess moisture can make your home a haven for mold and mildew, contributing to poor air quality. This can also trigger allergies and asthma attacks and even damage your furniture and house structure. To maintain proper humidity levels, you need a good dehumidifier for your home. Like any appliance, over time your dehumidifier will start to show signs of natural wear and tear. When this happens, it may be time to recycle or dispose of your dehumidifier.
The best way to dispose of your dehumidifier depends on whether any component is still functional and the regulations in your locality. If you want to replace a working dehumidifier, what you can do with the old one is to sell, donate, or give it away to whoever needs it more. If the unit is no longer working, there are ways to recycle your dehumidifier depending on the manufacturer and your location. Remember that recycling your dehumidifier is not like disposing of any other waste since it contains potentially harmful chemicals.
So if you need some ideas on what to do with your old dehumidifier, whether it’s still working or not, keep reading to find out the best thing you can do.
Signs Your Dehumidifier is No Longer Working
First, you must understand how your dehumidifier works so that you’ll know when it’s not functioning properly. Before you go and get rid of your old unit due to some minor issue, make sure the problem is not something you can easily fix. The following signs will tell you when your dehumidifier is not working as it should.
No Change in Humidity
Obviously, if your dehumidifier is operational, there should be some change in humidity after a significant time. You can feel it yourself if you stay in the room or you can check its humidity display. If you have a separate device that measures humidity, then all the better.
No Water Collected
If your dehumidifier is effectively removing moisture, there should be water collected in its tank. If you’re using a hose, you can also see if there’s water flowing out after a certain amount of time.
Compressor dehumidifiers are naturally loud, but if it gets any louder than usual, there might be loose parts inside. You should also check the filter and fan to see if there’s anything blocking the airflow to cause the noise.
These are only some basic tips you can do to check if you can still benefit from your old dehumidifier. Some issues may be fixable by simply cleaning or oiling some dehumidifier parts. Otherwise, it’s best to ask a licensed HVAC technician. If the problem requires repairs, do a quick calculation. If the repair costs more than a new unit, then the best thing to do would be to get another dehumidifier and recycle your old one.
Why Dehumidifiers Need to be Disposed of Properly
Dehumidifiers come in different sizes and types, the most common of which is the compressor or refrigerant type. Its working principle is similar to that of an air conditioner, removing moisture from the air by cooling. The compressor pumps the refrigerant or coolant to the condenser and evaporator coils to facilitate the cooling system. This refrigerant comes in liquid or gas form as it absorbs or releases heat.
There are different types of refrigerants used by dehumidifiers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies most of them as a hazardous substance. Refrigerants must only be handled by professionals or licensed HVAC technicians who have proper knowledge and equipment for safety. It must not be simply thrown in the trash like any other waste material.
Old dehumidifiers from before 2010 typically used R-12 refrigerant, which has now been phased out due to its high ozone depletion potential. More recent dehumidifiers use the R-22 refrigerant or what is commonly known as Freon. However, this hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) can also contribute to ozone destruction.
Finally, the newer refrigerant, known as R-410A or Puron, is a hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) which does not contribute to ozone depletion but is also considered a biohazard and must only be handled by a professional.
Any other major appliances similar to a dehumidifier must be disposed of according to the local regulations per state. In particular, the state of California has strict environmental laws. The refrigerants, metals, and other components must be got rid of separately while plastics may be recycled.
How to Dispose of a Dehumidifier
Wherever your location, you can always find the information you need from your local sanitation department or waste management. If you need a quick answer, here are some ways you can recycle or dispose of your old dehumidifier.
Sell Or Donate A Working Dehumidifier
Firstly, if the unit is still functional as a whole, consider donating it to a local charity. Look for a Salvation Army or Goodwill or any other store near you that donates to charity or supports a cause you care about.
Another way you can benefit from your old dehumidifier is by selling it. One option to do this these days is through advertising on social media or in a local newspaper. You can also try listing it on Craigslist or another such website. You can put up for sale any other working appliance that you don’t use anymore. Try setting up a garage sale during a time when a dehumidifier might be needed most. Alternatively, you can sell your old dehumidifier at a thrift store, flea market, or pawn shop.
Local Or Private Waste Disposal Services
If your dehumidifier is no longer usable, there might be no other way but to throw it away at a local government waste disposal. Large cities usually include garbage disposal as a free governmental service with programs for recycling special waste materials such as dehumidifiers and other old appliances. They aim to reduce the waste in landfills, especially hazardous substances that can contaminate the air.
Smaller cities or towns often have contracts with private companies to provide special waste disposal services for used appliances such as dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and refrigerators. There may be separate charges depending on the condition of your dehumidifier upon disposal. Contact your local waste management service to get more specific information.
Ask Your Local Appliance Stores
Some appliance stores and retailers may dispose of your old dehumidifier for a reduced price if you purchase a replacement unit from them. If you’re replacing your dehumidifier, ask if they have a program for dehumidifier disposal. This can be the best way you can still benefit from your old unit and make sure it’s disposed of properly.
Bounty Programs For Disposing Of A Dehumidifier
In some states, large utility companies offer a bounty program or rebate program that will pay you an incentive when you dispose of your appliance. However, there may be requirements or restrictions for the program. Some might require that the appliance be operational and some might only accept small appliances within specific dimensions. To be sure, contact your local utility company and ask about programs available in your area and how they work.
Recycling centers may accept dehumidifiers that are either working or not working. However, some recycling centers have fees for accepting your appliance and often require you to drop it off without pick-up services.
Alternatively, check with your HVAC technician to see if they will dispose of your dehumidifier. If your dehumidifier is no longer working or you simply want a new one instead of trying to repair the old one, most technicians are licensed to handle refrigerants for removal and proper disposal of the appliance. Most will offer a pick-up service for a small fee.
Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Dehumidifier
Even the best dehumidifiers have a limited lifespan, but taking good care of your unit can do a lot to prolong its life so you don’t have to worry about disposal. Here are some tips you can follow to keep your dehumidifier functioning properly for a long time.
Firstly, you need to use the right size and type of dehumidifier for your space and find the best placement for it. When operating, keep the doors and windows closed so that the unit will only need to cover the area with the most humidity. After turning it off, do not turn on the unit immediately. Give it about 10 minutes before switching it on again to stabilize the pressure inside.
Ideally, you should only use your dehumidifier when humidity rises above the comfortable range of 30% to 50% RH. This usually happens between spring to the beginning of fall. Remember that most dehumidifiers work best in warm temperatures. Colder months typically bring dry air, which means you don’t need a dehumidifier to make your indoor air even drier. In this case, keep your dehumidifier stored in its proper place until the time you need it again.
When using your dehumidifier, make sure to also clean it at least every few weeks. Clean the air filter and grilles from any dust, dirt, or impurities that accumulated in the air. Many dehumidifiers today have a filter indicator that lights up after a set time to remind you to check and clean the filter.
If you’re using the dehumidifier tank to collect water, make sure to empty it as soon as possible, and don’t let stagnant water stay for long. Rinse the tank and dry it before placing it back and disinfect it at least every two weeks to avoid mold growth. Use soap and water or a vinegar solution to clean the tank, then dry it out completely.
Lastly, when temperatures drop below 65F, regularly inspect the internal coils for frost. Most refrigerant dehumidifiers have an auto defrost function to prevent frost buildup that can damage the components.
These are only some basic guidelines you can follow to properly maintain your dehumidifier. Typically, dehumidifiers can last anywhere between five and ten years with enough care and maintenance. If you want to maximize the lifetime of your dehumidifier, make sure to perform your responsibilities.
Can I remove the refrigerant from my dehumidifier myself?
In most cases today, no, you cannot remove the refrigerant gas from your dehumidifier. For older models, there used to be readily available recharge kits you can use to remove the refrigerant and replace it, “recharging” the dehumidifier. Today, only a certified technician has the capability and the tools to do this.
Do dehumidifiers have Freon in them?
If by Freon you mean refrigerant, then yes, most household dehumidifiers have Freon. Refrigerant dehumidifiers today use different types of refrigerants. Freon is actually a brand name for the most commonly used refrigerants before, the R-12 and R-22. Due to environmental concerns, the only currently used refrigerant for dehumidifiers under the original Freon name is the R-22 refrigerant.
How many years do dehumidifiers last?
It depends on the quality of the brand and the care you provide. Cheaper units can be expected to last for a shorter time, but high-quality brands can last up to a decade given that you perform the required cleaning and maintenance.
When should you throw out a dehumidifier?
The unit is no longer working if you find no changes in the humidity and it has not collected any water after a significant amount of time running. If your indoor humidity stays above 50%, then it’s time to replace your malfunctioning dehumidifier with a new one. Ask a licensed HVAC technician if it can still be fixed with minimal costs. Otherwise, you may be better off with a replacement.
Disposing of your old dehumidifier is not as easy as dumping it in the trash. If it’s functional or easily repairable, you may sell it or give it to someone else who can use it. Appliance stores or HVAC technicians may be able to salvage some parts instead of sending everything to sit in a landfill, potentially releasing dangerous gases. Refrigerant dehumidifiers contain some type of HCFC or HFC refrigerant which can seriously damage the planet’s ozone layer. To ensure the safe disposal of your old dehumidifier, air conditioners, or any other similar appliance, the refrigerant inside may be removed first. This process is done only by professionals. So if you must dispose of your dehumidifier, contact your local department of sanitation or solid waste disposal management for the best course of action.