Not all dehumidifiers need recharging; only those devices that are used as coolants or refrigerants. These types of dehumidifiers produce cold, dry air, apart from dehumidifying.
Usually, older dehumidifiers use refrigerants and back in the day, you can buy a recharging kit and perform the refill. Today, you need to consult a well-qualified HVAC company if you are planning to recharge a dehumidifier. They will be able to provide the essential chemicals to refill your unit.
You can check upon your dehumidifier’s manufacturer whether your unit uses Freon or Puron. Those models that use Freon seems to be outdated since this refrigerant is known to be harmful to our environment.
Due to the adverse effects of the chemical contents, the sale of such kits was prohibited for public sales and only reliable HVAC companies are allowed to do the recharging.
I’ll get into this topic better so you will have a clear grasp about your dehumidifier and probably learn a few tips in case your unit fails.
What Kind of Dehumidifier Needs Recharging?
It’s that time of the year again when the weather is getting too hot to handle and the quickest way to eliminate that humid indoors is by turning on the dehumidifier.
Being in this industry for a long time now, I have seen how dehumidifiers evolved over the years and how they have become environment-friendly and energy-efficient.
There are two main types of dehumidifiers- Condensate and Desiccant. There is a third one though called Whole House - which is a central unit kind.
Stand-alone dehumidifiers we normally use at home are called Condensate which collects water from the air. Desiccants make use of the absorption method which is ideal for high humidity levels at low temperatures.
Recharging desiccant dehumidifiers especially those that use silica gel is easy, most brands usually use color beads that turn from orange to green when it’s time to charge. Just plug the unit into a wall outlet and wait for at least 8-10 hours.
What you are actually doing is heating up the device with a tiny internal heating component, which dries out the silica desiccant inside. This then allows the silica desiccant to again absorb moisture.
Condensate types need recharging after a long time of use or depending on the case maybe. Usually, recharging happens as part of device troubleshooting. They are also called refrigerant dehumidifiers.
And as its name implies, in any scenario that the device stops collecting water or perhaps stopped working at all, then most technicians will consider checking the coolant content of your unit.
Before we go further about discussing on how to recharge a dehumidifier, I would like to give you a head’s up that not all dehumidifiers today are rechargeable. In fact, only a handful of modern dehumidifiers need recharging and it is all based on the manufacturer.
It’s quite important to consider this when planning to purchase a dehumidifier for your home.
First, you should know what type of dehumidifier you have and whether it requires refrigerant or coolant. Some units got stickers on or, you can check all these in the device manual or online where the product is also available.
Once you have verified that your device needs coolant or refrigerant to keep going, you can now proceed in finding a reliable HVAC agency.
When Should You Recharge The Dehumidifier?
You can’t just recharge your dehumidifier whenever you feel the need to. Remember, there are certain environmental effects of the chemical refill, especially if yours need Freon.
Consider recharging your dehumidifier when it fails to pull out excess moisture but the fan and motor are still turning on.
There are key indicators that you need to check prior to recharging the unit:
- Check the motor and the fan if they are functioning normally; if not, note down the difference (Another troubleshooting might resolve this)
- Examine the humidity level, it may need certain adjustments to remove excess air moisture
- Leaking Freon that may result in poor performance
At this point, you should heavily weigh your options to cut down your expenses. If recharging will be more cost-effective or perhaps getting a new one will save you. Most dehumidifier repair service range from $50-$200, depending on the issue.
How to Recharge a Refrigerant Dehumidifier?
You cannot recharge the dehumidifier on your own. Basically, this process needs an intervention from a certified HVAC company. Read the manual on how your manufacturer suggests doing it and if you lost a copy of the user guide, you can always look it up online.
Unlike other home appliances that you can simply plug in for recharging, a dehumidifier is similar to your air conditioning unit and the refrigerator. It needs a certain chemical called coolant or refrigerant to keep up with its performance.
You need to refill a refrigerant or a coolant to your dehumidifier in case it stops working properly, or when troubleshooting steps tell you to do so. Again, you can only do this once you have made sure you got the right diagnosis.
Otherwise, it will forfeit the entire purpose of refilling. Recharging a dehumidifier needs a specific refrigerant called R-22 (for older units and brands), and R-410A (for most modern dehumidifiers).
There are other more coolants out there that can be used in the dehumidifier:
- R-12 or CFC Chlorofluorocarbons
- R-22 or HCFCs Hydrochlorofluorocarbons
- R410A or Hydrofluorocarbons
R-12 is already phased out due to its adverse greenhouse effect and Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP). The two most common coolant for dehumidifiers is the R-22 and the R-410A.
R-22 Vs. R-410A
There’s quite a difference between these two coolants as well. Older models, let’s say, those made from 2010 and below, use R-22, and those from the same year up to date use R-410A.
To find out what refrigerant your unit uses, you can check the label on your unit. Some brands put a sticker on their systems to let you know what coolant to use.
If you are not quite familiar with these refrigerants; in layman’s terms, R-22 is often associated with a brand called Freon.
Most of the cooling appliances such as air conditioning units, refrigerators, and dehumidifiers used to have R-22. However, it is a hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) which adds to ozone exhaustion.
Apart from the environmental impact, scientists also reported severe health repercussions of R-22.
This is why homeowners are no longer allowed to refill any refrigerant appliances with R-22 due on their own. The kits that were readily available before are gone.
While R-410A, also known as the brand Puron, a hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC), which does not contribute to ozone destruction. This became a better alternative to Freon. It is also more efficient and reliable when it comes to performance.
The R-410A can withstand higher pressure and can absorb more heat thus making your compressor run in a cooler condition.
Some people demonstrated utilizing R-410A to an R-22 dehumidifier, but, it is very dangerous especially if you are not trained.
You can use R-410A into a dehumidifier that’s designed for R-22 but you need a different pressure gauge otherwise, it might cause leaks and more damage to your unit.
Here’s a comprehensive rundown on how to recharge a dehumidifier with R-22 or Freon.
How Does Refrigerant Work?
Just how the video above clearly explained, refrigerants go through the entire compressor, making way through the condenser where it transforms from vapor to liquid, releasing heat in the process. This is where it’s considered ‘hot to touch’. After that, it goes through the evaporator, where it gets cooled and repeats the cycle.
Here’s a concrete illustration of how a refrigerant works. Roger Yeh of MIT showed a clear drawing of the schematic of the compression refrigeration system.
Similarly, this type of refrigeration system is also applicable to most modern-day dehumidifiers refrigerators, and AC units. The cycle or states that the refrigerant goes through your dehumidifier is what absorbs the excess humidity and transforms it into water.
What To Do When Recharging Doesn’t Work?
Recharging your dehumidifier is only one of the many ways of maintenance. If you’re out of luck and the recharging doesn’t work, you might need to go through further troubleshooting.
This is only a part of the dehumidifier maintenance, usually done when the unit stops working.
However, this does not guarantee a 100% result, I still recommend that you go back to your manual and go over its own troubleshooting guide.
Here’s what you can do if the recharging does not work:
- 1Follow recommended maintenance guide from your device manufacturer
- 2If under warranty, better to contact customer support for assistance
- 3Clean the internal coils from dirt and dust. If needed, carefully vacuum the coils to thoroughly remove dirt barriers.
- 4Check if the fan is running properly. There might be some loose screws that need to be tightened. Usually, a rattling sound will bother you every time you turn on and use the dehumidifier.
- 5Make sure that the internal compressor is also working properly, otherwise, you need to contact an expert technician for possible repair.
DIYs are not recommended in terms of dealing with dehumidifier recharging. And if all else fails, do not just simply dispose of your dehumidifier.
You need to contact a professional to extract the chemical out of the device. Remember, Freon may leak and cause skin irritations and poisoning.
Once you have extracted the Freon out from your old dehumidifier, you may contact your community recycling center. Or, contact your local hazardous waste center if they’ll accept your dehumidifier with Freon still inside.
How To Avoid Recharging Your Dehumidifier?
You can avoid recharging your dehumidifier when you use it properly. Dehumidifiers usually last for up to 5 years and more as long as you take care of your unit well.
This includes maintenance and storage. Recharging may breathe a new life to your dehumidifier but, proper care is still the best method of keeping it longer.
I usually tell my friends that they can cut down their recharging cycle by using an appropriate dehumidifier at home. What usually happens is that your machine is overly exhausted from frequent use and in the wrong place.
If you are looking to purchase a new dehumidifier, then it’s best to invest in modern units with eco-friendly features. One of the dehumidifiers I found that’s a certified eco-friendly is the Frigidaire FAD704DWD 70 Pint Dehumidifier.
It has Smart Humidity control that can make automated adjustments in given room conditions. All it takes for you to do is set your desired humidity level and the unit will operate accordingly.
Apart from that, it also has a compressor protection feature that avoids overheating the compressor and the circuit breaker from tripping as it turns on and off quickly. It has built-in sensors that activate the compressor and fan during the dehumidifying process.
Having an auto shut-off feature avoids the compressor and the fan from getting overworked, which lengthens the smooth flow of the refrigerant inside.
Dehumidifier maintenance takes both effort and money. You have to invest in your device wisely.
Recharging a dehumidifier nowadays is costly compared to before where you can perform a DIY. Currently, you need to contact an HVAC company to do the recharging on your behalf to avoid mishandling and overusing chemicals.
Although quite disappointing, it’s the better option for the implementation of strict environmental regulations. Not to mention, health concerns too.
Freon used to be a great short-term solution to appliances such as dehumidifiers, however, our environment suffers more. Fortunately, modern-day dehumidifiers no longer contain Freon but other forms of refrigerant such as Puron, which is eco-friendly.
To get the most of your dehumidifier, as I’ve always advised, keep your device in a clean and well-maintained condition. This way, you can rest assured that you have a long-lasting dehumidifier plus lesser chances of recharging it.
You can also eliminate high humidity by installing desiccant types in certain areas at home.
Most of all, look for a dehumidifier that highlights features that can minimize your energy consumption but maximize its operation, and of course, saves the environment.