When it comes to tackling humidity in your home, dehumidifiers are invaluable. These helpful appliances not only combat condensation, they can also reduce damp and mould, help you dry your laundry and cut your energy bills.
But what do you do if you suspect your dehumidifier is broken or on the brink? Is it possible to fix a broken dehumidifier or is your handy moisture extractor doomed for the landfill?
We asked two leading manufacturers – ProBreeze and Meaco – how you can tell if your unit is breaking and what you can do to fix a broken dehumidifier.
The signs your dehumidifier might be broken
"If your dehumidifier is broken it will stop collecting water or start to make unusual noises," says Chris Michael, Director at Meaco (U.K.) Limited. "Some more sophisticated machines like the Meaco models will provide an error code to help tell you, or the manufacturer what the fault is".
When in doubt, these are the signs that your dehumidifier is broken or will soon need fixing:
1. Your dehumidifier is no longer collecting water
The most obvious sign that a dehumidifier is broken is that it is no longer collecting water. If the tank remains dry despite extended use in a humid environment, it's clear that something is amiss.
2. It's making unusual sounds
Noises such as rattling, buzzing or grinding are not part of a dehumidifier's standard operation. These sounds point to an operational fault.
3. There's an odd smell
A musty or burning smell emanating from your dehumidifier is cause for concern, as these potentially indicate overheating or mould growth within your unit.
"Thankfully, most faults are fixable," says Chris Michael. "The first thing you should do is consult your user manual or ask the manufacturer if they can help."
Chris and his partner Michelle started Meaco in 1991. Meaco is now regarded internationally as a major player in the dehumidifier industry selling to 20+ countries throughout Europe, North America and South Africa. Meaco sets the benchmark for quality and development in its sector, leading by example and reducing the energy consumption of its appliances.
Troubleshooting your appliance
If you suspect your dehumidifier is broken it's a good idea to troubleshoot the most common causes of malfunction before seeking professional help. Regular dehumidifier maintenance is key to keeping your appliance in good working order.
Here's what you should do in response to common faults:
What to do if you dehumidifier is no longer collecting water?
"If your Dehumidifier is not collecting any water, there may be several potential causes for this issue," explain the ProBreeze customer care team. They recommend trying these 6 simple fixes to see if you can get your appliance up and running again:
1. Check the set humidity level
If you have a premium dehumidifier make sure that it is set to a humidity level that is higher than the current room humidity. When the set level is too low, the dehumidifier may not activate.
2. Check it's the correct size for the setting
Ensure that your dehumidifier is appropriately sized for the room it's in. If you place a small dehumidifier in a big room, it may not effectively remove moisture.
3. Clean the air filter
If you have a dirty or clogged air filter this can restrict airflow and reduce its efficiency. Clean the filter according to the instruction manual and see if it fixes your issues.
4. Check for ice buildup
Sometimes, when a room's temperature is very low, the evaporator coils in your dehumidifier may freeze and stop it from collecting water. Simply turn it off and allow any ice to thaw out.
5. Check the alignment of the water bucket
Make sure that the dehumidifier water bucket has been correctly positioned inside the unit. Sometimes a dehumidifier will not function when this component is misaligned.
What to do if your dehumidifier is making strange noises?
"Dehumidifiers will inevitably produce some noise, as they work like a fridge," say ProBreeze. "However, if you feel the noise is abnormal or louder than usual, you should check to ensure that the unit is on an even surface and the filter is not blocked or does not need cleaning".
What to do if your dehumidifier smells?
If your dehumidifier is producing a burning smell this is a sign that there might be an electric fault, such as overheating, wiring issues or a malfunctioning motor. Immediately switch off the unit and unplug it from the wall. Inspect the dehumidifier for damage and if you aren't experienced with electrical repairs consult a specialist.
If the smell is musty, the unit may contain mould or mildew as a result of stagnant water or a dirty air filter. "If the air filter is dirty or covered in dust, the dehumidifier will not do its job as the air will not be able to pass through," explains Chris Michaels. Check the filter and clean or replace it according to the instruction manual. Clean the inside of the unit with water and a mild detergent, or with a solution of water and white vinegar. Ensure that the unit is dry before assembling.
Can you fix a broken dehumidifier?
If you've tried all of the above troubleshooting techniques and you still suspect your dehumidifier is broken it's time to get in touch with the manufacturer. They will be able to recommend the best course of action to fix the product or replace the unit for you if it's still within warranty.
You'll find plenty of DIY videos online that will outline how dehumidifiers work and provide advice on ways to fix a broken unit. However, you should be careful not to tamper too much with the mechanisms of your dehumidifier unless you know what you are doing, as this can affect your warranty and prevent you from receiving a replacement or a refund in the event that it is broken beyond repair.
"The manufacturer should always be your first port of call," concludes Chris Michaels. "But as a last resort, take your broken dehumidifier to your local council recycling facility. They will be able to dispose of or recycle your appliance in a responsible way".
Get the Homebuilding & Renovating Newsletter
Bring your dream home to life with expert advice, how to guides and design inspiration. Sign up for our newsletter and get two free tickets to the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show (21-24 March, NEC, Birmingham).
Gabriella is Homebuilding & Renovating's Assistant Editor. She is a DIY enthusiast and a lover of all things interior design. She’s spent the past decade crafting copy for regional publications, award-winning architects, and leading UK homeware brands.
She has a particular passion for historic buildings and listed properties, and she is currently in the process of renovating a Grade II-listed Victorian coach house in the West Country. At Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine, Gabriella is responsible for curating the magazine's home case studies and regularly contributes to the Homebuilding website.