There are two types of dehumidifiers available on the market: those that use desiccants and those that use refrigerants to remove moisture from the air. Desiccant-based dehumidifiers work well even in low temperatures and don’t freeze over. Unfortunately, refrigerant-based ones can and do freeze up.
When your refrigerant-based dehumidifier freezes up, it’s likely to do with the air flowing through it. For example, your bedroom air might be too cold, causing the appliance to freeze from the inside. Meanwhile, a dirty air filter or failed fan could restrict airflow and cause the same problem. Lastly, low or leaking refrigerant can lead the unit to freeze up.
This guide will walk you through why your dehumidifier is freezing up and show you how to prevent it from happening again.
Why Is My Dehumidifier Freezing Up?
A dehumidifier can freeze up for internal and external reasons. That means the root cause could be within the dehumidifying unit, or it could relate to its surrounding environment.
Here’s why your dehumidifier is freezing up and what you can do to fix it:
Bedroom Is Too Cold
About this: A dehumidifier works by drawing air from its surroundings and driving it through the unit. The cooling coils inside the unit will lower the air’s temperature, so condensation happens, and moisture can be removed.
Then, that air is released back into the environment while the moisture is collected in a reservoir. This process happens continually for as long as the dehumidifier is turned on.
What’s gone wrong: The first reason your dehumidifier is freezing up is that the surrounding air is too cold.
Remember: the air is drawn through the humidifier and its internal cooling coils. The unit cools that air just enough to cause condensation and remove moisture from it.
However, suppose the air drawn in is already too cold, to begin with. In that case, it’ll freeze some moisture inside the humidifier.
That will happen continuously until there’s a buildup of ice inside the unit, and it can no longer function correctly.
How to fix it: Firstly, you must remember that refrigerant-based dehumidifiers can only operate in temperatures of 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. So if the unit is in a room with lower temperatures than that, freezing can happen quickly.
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You can fix the problem by shutting the dehumidifier off and letting the ice melt away naturally. Then, you can prevent the problem from happening by keeping the room within the unit’s safe operating temperatures.
Dirty Air Filter
About this: A dehumidifier deals with plenty of airflow as it draws air through the unit. That’s why many models are equipped with air filters to remove dust and other contaminants before the air enters the unit.
That way, the air filter can prevent dust from building up inside the dehumidifier and clogging the unit.
As long as that air filter is clean, the dehumidifier won’t have any problems drawing air through it.
What’s gone wrong: Another problem that can cause a dehumidifier to freeze is a lack of airflow. One thing that can cause that to happen is a dirty air filter.
When the air filter is saturated with contaminants like dust, dirt, pollen, and pet dander (to name a few), it will restrict airflow.
The cold air that would typically flow out of the dehumidifier will get trapped inside. That air quickly turns any moisture into ice, eventually freezing the whole dehumidifier from within.
How to fix it: You’ll have to shut the dehumidifier off and let it defrost naturally first. Then, you must remove the air filter inside.
Depending on how dirty the air filter is, you can restore airflow by cleaning it thoroughly. However, it’s always best to replace the filter with a new one if you’ve been using it for an extended period.
Most dehumidifiers only need an air filter change once a year. However, you should refer to the user manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Faulty Dehumidifier Fan
About this: In the section above, you read how restricted airflow can cause a refrigerant-based dehumidifier to freeze up. Another crucial component that maintains the unit’s airflow is the dehumidifier fan.
The fan consists of two parts that you must be aware of: the fan blades and the fan motor. When the fan motor receives power, it’ll spin its fan blades at high speeds.
That will then draw air through the dehumidifier so its moisture levels can be reduced.
What’s gone wrong: A dehumidifier will freeze if it can’t move air through the unit smoothly. Besides a dirty air filter, that can also be caused by a faulty dehumidifier fan.
For example, the fan motor might have failed and no longer works. Besides that, the fan blades might be broken or have a foreign object stuck inside that prevents them from turning.
Whatever the cause, a fan that doesn’t turn will restrict airflow and cause the cold air to freeze the dehumidifier quickly.
How to fix it: Firstly, check the fan blades to see if it’s damaged or blocked. Then, you can remove any foreign objects in their way or replace them if need be.
Once you rule that out, check the fan motor. You can use a
Low Or Leaking Refrigerant
About this: As the term suggests, refrigerant-based dehumidifiers rely on circulating refrigerant to cool the air that passes through. That causes condensation and the removal of moisture from the air.
Much like any other appliance that uses the same mechanism, dehumidifiers must be charged with the correct amount of refrigerant at all times.
What’s gone wrong: The final reason your dehumidifier is freezing up is the refrigerant is low or leaking. When there isn’t enough refrigerant, it’ll get far too cold inside the system, causing the entire unit to freeze.
How to fix it: You can solve this problem by getting a qualified technician to add enough refrigerant to the unit. However, if it’s leaking, you might have to replace the whole dehumidifier instead.
Depending on the leak’s severity, buying a new unit might be more affordable than getting it fixed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are a few more questions and answers to help you with your freezing dehumidifier:
What Are The Different Types Of Dehumidifiers?
There are two types of dehumidifiers. One uses desiccants to remove moisture from the air, while the other relies on refrigerants. Unfortunately, refrigerant-based dehumidifiers can’t operate at low temperatures because they’ll quickly freeze up.
What Is The Ideal Operating Temperature For Dehumidifiers?
A dehumidifier typically operates normally at 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, air temperatures that are too low can cause it to freeze up.
How Often Should You Clean A Dehumidifier?
Ideally, you should clean your dehumidifier once a week. Be sure to clean the air filter as well. Doing that will maximize airflow and prevent freezing.
Should You Leave A Dehumidifier On All The Time?
Typically, you only need to run a dehumidifier for 8-12 hours daily in living spaces. However, you can leave it on all the time for damp areas like your basement to prevent mold.
Do You Need To Run A Dehumidifier In Winter?
No, you don’t need to run a dehumidifier in winter, as the air is already dry enough.