Small Household Appliances/Dehumidifier - Followup


QUESTION: Hello Wayne,

Your profile didn't mention anything about Dehumidifiers but since you seem to be a jack of all trades I thought I'd go ahead and ask you a question.

I have a dehumidifier that is approximately 5 years old.  It has worked perfectly up until now, and I have kept the filter cleaned.  But recently it has stopped dehumidifying.  It seemed to slowly stop working, like each time I emptied the catch basin it would take longer the next time for it to fill up.  And I know it is not from lack of humidity.  What could be causing this?  Don't these things operate similar to an HVAC system, in that they contain a refrigerant?  What do you think?  


ANSWER: They are like a small refrigerator that has the door open all of the time.  They are very expensive to operate but they do the job of taking out the moisture.  Be sure the temp. in the area is at least 65 degrees.  They will not work well at temp. lower.  If the fan motor is still running that part is good.  Is the unit frosting up?  To check this you will have to remove the back and locate the cold coil.  There will be two coils back to back.  One is hot and one is cold.  If you let it run for at least 15 minutes and check the coils , see if the cold one is getting cold.  If not, you have a freon leak and it is not worth repairing.  If it is freezing up the coil, you can sometimes turn it off and let it thaw out.  After doing this, you can place a 100watt light bulb where it draws the air into the unit.  This will preheat the air going in and it should not freeze up.  If you need more help let me know.

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---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


I wanted to write back after giving my dehumidifier a chance to work after a good cleaning.  I cleaned the coils and the filter.  The coils had a layer of dust on them and I thought maybe that was preventing it from working.  It didn't help.  I just checked it after letting it run all day.  The catch basin was completely dry, and the coils are not frozen at all.  The compressor sounded like it was running, and the motor runs like its new, no noise at all, it purrs like a kitten.  

What else could it be?  I paid more than $200 for it and I would hate to think it is already worn out.  I have checked it from top to bottom and there doesn't seem to be any more coils other than the ones behind the filter.  And those are the only ones that have a slotted louver in front of them for air flow.   By the way, I checked the operating manual and it says it is supposed to operate in temps above 41 degrees, so the temperature is not a problem.  And I know there is plenty of humidity in the air.  

Do you think it can be saved?   Where do you take these to be repaired?

ANSWER: It sounds like you are a victim of the "China Syndrome".  Almost all of the late model dehumidifiers are made in China and they are pretty much all junk.  They do not seal the coils like they should and the freon all leaks out.  The compressor probably has a 5 year warranty but the coils usually only have a 90 or one year.  Once the freon is gone it is more expensive to replace it than to buy a new unit.  When they were made in the USA it was nothing to find a dehumidifier that was 30 years old.  Not the case anymore.  My brother tried to buy a new one last year and he took three of them back before he got one that actually worked.  We should buy more quality products like this from China.  That way we can fill up our landfills a lot faster.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I totally understand the "China Syndrome", but after studying the book Frigidaire is owned by Electrolux, which is based in Augusta, GA.  Maybe they took lessons from China?  The warranty does give 5 year coverage of the "sealed system", and wouldn't you know it, after 5 years it peters out on me.  Nothing is made to last like in the old days.  I guess they figured out that to make  more money a product has to break down so they can sell you a new one.  Just a sign of the times.  Looks like I'll be getting a new dehumidifier.  Any suggestions as to what brand to look for that may be a little more durable and dependable?  Thanks for your help and your time.

They are all the same and all have a touch board it seems.  If you can find one with just a humidistat and not a touch board, buy it quickly.  You could try a Good Will store and see if you can get an old model.  It will still run longer than a new one.  Good luck.

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Wayne Kiefer


Any concerning the repair of small electric household appliances (coffee makers, waffle makers,etc.) shavers, antique clocks, air compressors, lamps, generators.


High school Industrial Arts teacher. Plant manager at Trek Bicycle factory. Self employed for last 20 years in the small appliance repair business.

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