Dehumidifiers 101

OK, this might seem a little off topic but I’m as much about saving money as I am in making it.

Recently my sister’s dehumidifier died and she asked my husband about his recommendation and in talking to her he realized ours was probably broken (it was).  In the last few weeks I know of at least 3 friends whose dehumidifiers broke and we all live in the Rochester, NY region.  We had a very wet June (7 inches of rain!) which meant those dehumidifiers were working overtime, which probably led to their untimely death.

My husband prides himself on researching things before he buys them.  He did a thorough analysis on dehumidifiers that I thought deserved a wider audience than our friends and family. I’m going to break his analysis into 2 posts.


Most of us don’t give it much thought.  We buy whatever unit is handy or on sale, we plug it in using whatever extension cord we find handy, and we just assume that if we hear the motor humming, then everything is hunky dory, right?   We set it and forget it.   Even though sometimes we might set it up improperly, or do things ourselves that shorten the lifespan of the unit.

Rarely do we check it again, year after year, until suddenly something fails, or we smell damp air and mold is growing…
Or the extension cord nearly burns up and nearly causes a fire… (both of which happened to me).

So, don’t dismiss this topic so quickly…

With the threat of breaking our wallets (with continual repairs or replacements), the threat of improper safety and fire hazards, and the threat of mold and mildew growing in our basements and on our stored belongings, perhaps we should give this more thought and attention.

Homeowners insurance is increasingly excluding the coverage of certain mold damage (without costly extra insurance coverage or policy riders).
And cleanup/abatement, of extreme mold damage, can be very costly.

So maybe the proper operation of our simple little Dehumidifiers are more important than we realize.

The more people I talk to, the more we come to realize that despite hearing a motor running, they’re often not working properly.   More often than we realize.
Or that they fail prematurely (e.g. sometimes lasting just 1-2 years or so), and have to be replaced too often — usually after the warranty expires (which for most brands is just 1 year).

The problem with these “throwaway” small appliances these days is that replacing them every few years really adds up (at $150 to $250 a pop, on average).

Plus, it costs extra $$ to dispose of them each time (since the refrigerant they contain is a controlled environmental hazard — which must be recycled, and the refuse companies, or recycling centers, charge extra fees…).

I don’t claim to be an expert. So don’t sue me.  😛

I just tried to educate myself recently, instead of being blissfully ignorant about it, as I had in the past.   I learned more about dehumidifiers than I ever thought I would (or should).  Ugh!!

I’ll share my recent learnings… to save you the same trouble and pain that I went through…  So enjoy! 😀

NOTE:  If anyone is more informed, or aware of something that I mis-stated, please let me know and I’ll share with the others.  Thanks!  🙂

= = = = = =

My  4-year-old  Kenmore 50-pint model is currently in the shop for diagnosis for the specific problem;  awaiting a decision of whether or not to pay $100+ for a potential repair  (in the event it’s a component no longer covered under my partial warranty) and waiting the 3-4+ weeks for the unit to be repaired and returned.

My sister-in-law’s Whirlpool unit is only 2 years old and it failed recently too.  And several other people I know have failed units right now.

I couldn’t wait another 3-4 weeks;  so decided to buy another unit ASAP because our basement was getting up to 80% humidity (and likely to develop mold).

So I launched into research:  read the Consumer Reports review, searched many on-line retailers and websites that discussed dehumidifiers, checked several stores, opened several boxes and viewed the specs of the motors (Amperage & Wattage, efficiency ratings, etc.), read dozens and dozens of on-line customer complaints and ratings/reviews, etc.  (note:  some customers appeared not to know what they were talking about and may have been using their units improperly, or unrealistic expectations, so I discounted their testimony).

I previously had figured our 1200 square foot basement would probably do fine with a single unit — 50 pint (rated) capacity (per day).   That’s what I’ve used for 20 years.  Perhaps I was wrong?

In the wetter and more humid summer months, if it’s overloaded and running almost constantly, then that could contribute to premature failure.

And if our single dehumidifier ever fails, then our basement humidity rises quickly to 75% to 80% or so, and could lead to mold growth — like we experienced last summer (which in retrospect, probably was caused by our dehumidifier not working “properly” even back then, though I didn’t realize it).

I may decide to run 2 medium-capacity units in the basement — which should reduce the workload and usage frequency of each unit, and hopefully prolong their lifespans.  And if one does fail, I’ve always got a 2nd unit running anyway.

Buying and running a 2nd inexpensive unit (for $110 to $130 or so) seems to be relatively cheap insurance and keeps our basement much drier and more comfortable — and less chance of moldy belongings stored down there.


7 thoughts on “Dehumidifiers 101

  1. My dehumidifier broke down two years ago prematurely at the age of just 1.5years. I saw an advertisement in the Pennysaver for free pick-up of unwanted appliances, air-conditioners, dehumidifiers and anything else metal. I called the number listed in the ad (585 545 4540 or 585 752 1647) and the dehumidifier was picked up the next day. The guy running the ad owns a junk yard. He will try to repair the appliance or depose of it.

  2. “And if our single dehumidifier ever fails, then our basement humidity rises quickly to 75% to 80% or so” that is incredibly scary and seeing what spores and bacteria can do to your health is not a pleasant thought.

  3. So far I’ve been through three units in about 4 years. Had a 65 pt. LG model that went bad, it was replaced under warranty. Now the replacement has gone bad. Think this time I’m going to buy an extended warranty.

    • I think that this is one of the few appliances where I would recommend that you pay for an extended warranty. Usually those don’t pay off unless you get something fail early in its life.

  4. Pingback: Hot & Sticky « How to maximize money for your stuff

  5. Making our own dehumidifier sounds good!!Nowadays this machine has become one of the most essential to all.It makes me so comfortable even when i stay at very very cool place.Before making this dehumidifiers just take a look at the site i have given where u could get important informations about dehumidifiers.

  6. Pingback: Broken dehumidifier | Greenlivingand

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