Dehumidifier Not Collecting Water? Here’s What to Do

Let’s face it: Moist, muggy air in your home is downright uncomfortable. In fact, humid air will make it feel hotter than it actually is. 

A dehumidifier solves the problem of excess moisture in the air in your home. But what happens when your dehumidifier stops collecting water?

If your dehumidifier is not collecting water, then it could be due to one of several reasons. Most dehumidifiers will give out an error code to let you know what’s wrong with it. However, these error codes typically only scratch the surface, and you’ll need to do a little more research to figure out what the problem actually is.

Below, I’ll go over a few different reasons why your dehumidifier is not collecting water. I’ll also outline the steps you should take to fix your dehumidifier, depending on what’s wrong with it.

Let’s get started!

Check if the float switch is stuck

The float switch is an essential component of a dehumidifier—it prevents your dehumidifier from overflowing and spilling water all over your floor.

When the water level in the collection tank reaches a certain level, the float switch gets triggered by floating up. When this happens, the float switch breaks a connection to the control board. Once the control board senses this, it shuts down the dehumidifier.

Sometimes the float switch can get stuck, making the control board think that the tank is full when it’s actually not.

To fix a stuck float switch, remove the collection tank from the dehumidifier and find the float switch assembly. It’s located somewhere in the dehumidifier inside of the area where the collection tank goes.

Once you locate the float switch, give it a few taps to see if the float will reset itself in the downward position. If the switch is stuck in the upward position, then you may need to use some force to push it back down.

Check if the drain pipe is clogged

If your dehumidifier has a drain pipe installed, then you need to ensure that the pipe is not clogged. A clogged drain pipe will cause water to build up inside the dehumidifier. Once there is enough water built up, then a float switch will trigger and shut down the dehumidifier.

If the drainpipe is clogged, you can usually manually unclog it by sticking a brush or drain snake in the pipe to dislodge the debris. You can also use a wet/dry vacuum to suck out the debris from the drain pipe.

Clean the air filter

A clogged dehumidifier air filter will stop it from working. Having a clean air filter sounds pretty simple but a lot of people forget to clean theirs.

Fortunately, cleaning the air filter is the simplest maintenance task that you can conduct on your dehumidifier. Most dehumidifier models have easy filter access so you can remove the filter and clean it out.

Most dehumidifier air filters are made of a thin plastic mesh. So you can rinse the filter out with water to clean it. After rinsing the filter, let it dry before reinstalling it. 

Clean the dehumidifier’s coils

If you hear your dehumidifier’s fan running, but don’t feel any airflow, there’s a good chance that one of the coils is clogged.

Coils get clogged from dust and grime build-up. This is a normal thing and happens over time as you run your dehumidifier. That’s why it’s important that you clean your dehumidifier’s air filter regularly—it helps to ensure that dust and debris don’t build up inside your dehumidifier.

To unclog the coils, you’ll need to take apart the dehumidifier and remove the build-up. This can be a simple or difficult task, depending on the design of your dehumidifier.

It’s sometimes helpful to use some compressed air or dust-off to blow the coils clean. Be careful not to blow the debris further inside the coil! That will make the problem even worse.

For excessive grime build-up, a can of coil cleaner will help immensely to wash off your coils. Most coil cleaners come in a spray can—so you can spray it on and rinse it off to get a sparkly clean coil.

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Check if the evaporator coil is frozen

Low airflow is also caused by another issue—a frozen evaporator coil. The evaporator coil in a dehumidifier is a radiator that gets extremely cold—sometimes below freezing temperatures. It’s the part that’s responsible for dehumidifying the air, so water will condense on the exterior of the coil.

The problem is that condensation can freeze on the coil. If you take a look inside your dehumidifier and see a block of ice, then your evaporator coil is frozen.

To fix a frozen evaporator coil, you just need to give it some time. No, seriously. Wait for the ice to melt off and your dehumidifier will be ready to run again. 

However, the coil might freeze over again. Most dehumidifiers nowadays have built-in freeze protection. The freeze protection works by sensing when frost starts to build up on the coil. When frost or ice builds up, it shuts off the compressor so the dehumidifier only blows room temperature air through the coil. This causes the frost to melt away, preventing a frozen coil.

So under normal circumstances, you’ll never have a frozen coil on your dehumidifier. If your coil is frozen, then the frost-sensing element is probably not working. Replacing the frost sensor is a tricky task—it depends on the model of dehumidifier that you have. Some are easier to replace than others. Some aren’t able to be replaced at all.

Your best bet is to consult with the manufacturer of your dehumidifier to see if any replacement parts are available.

Check if the compressor overload is tripped

If a compressor doesn’t start when power is applied to it, it will start to heat up. Too much heat and the compressor will break down. That’s where the thermal overload comes into play.

The overload is a device that cuts off power to the compressor when it gets too hot. The overload is a critical component that helps protect your dehumidifier from breaking. It also is a safety component that helps prevent fires.

A tripping overload is a symptom of a greater problem—usually a bad capacitor. So in most cases, if your overload is tripped, then there’s something else wrong with your dehumidifier.

Check if the run capacitor is bad

If your dehumidifier has power but its fan or compressor is not starting, then it could be the capacitor that’s bad. The capacitor provides the initial “jolt” of electricity needed to get a motor going.

If the capacitor is bad, then there isn’t enough power to get the fan or compressor turning. So the motor will just sit there and overheat.

Fortunately, the capacitor is a fairly easy component to replace. Check out this video below from HNX Media on how to replace the capacitor in a dehumidifier.

Check if the relay is stuck

A relay is an electronically controlled switch. In a dehumidifier, relays are used to turn on various components, such as the fan and compressor.

If a relay gets stuck, then it won’t be able to turn on that component. For example, if the fan relay gets stuck, then the fan won’t be able to start.

Fixing a stuck relay isn’t too hard.

First, you need to take apart the dehumidifier and find the control board. On the control board, there should be some small black boxes—these are the relays. If the relay is stuck, then you can unstick it by tapping on it lightly with the handle of your screwdriver. This is usually enough impact to break the relay free.

Check if the fan motor is not working

The fan motor in a dehumidifier is not usually the first thing to go bad. If the fan is not running it’s usually due to one of these things:

If you’ve checked all the above and your fan motor is getting power but not running, then the fan motor is bad.

Unfortunately, the fan motor can be a tough thing to replace, depending on the model of dehumidifier that you have. Some fan motors are tough to access, requiring you to take apart the whole thing to swap it out.

Also, you’ll need to find the exact replacement part—”close enough” won’t work for the fan motor since it has to fit perfectly inside the motor housing.

In many cases, it’s simply not worth it to replace a bad fan motor—you’ll be better off getting a new dehumidifier.

Check if the compressor is not working

The compressor is arguably the most critical component inside of a dehumidifier. If your compressor is not working, you’ll first need to check for these things:

After you’ve determined that nothing else is wrong and your compressor is getting power but still not running, then the compressor is bad.

Keep in mind that if the overload is tripping, it is usually due to a bad capacitor. If you’ve replaced the capacitor and the overload is still tripping, then the compressor is bad.

If the compressor goes bad, then your dehumidifier is toast. There’s really no point in repairing a dehumidifier that has a bad compressor. It will likely cost much more money to repair a broken compressor than just buying a whole new dehumidifier.