Dehumidifiers work great for de-humidifying a home, and help protect yourself and belongings from excess moisture. These are especially useful if you live in regions that get hot and humid in the summertime. But are dehumidifiers safe? Find out below.
Is It OK To Leave A Dehumidifier On All Night?
Dehumidifiers are generally safe to leave on all night. In terms of your sleep quality, a quiet dehumidifier is best so that you are not kept awake. Also, the best dehumidifiers to have on all night are those that have an automatic shut off that switches when the humidity reaches 40-50%. If not, the air could get too dry in the middle of the night while you are trying to sleep.
Dehumidifiers have some safety features that make them safe to run for extended periods of time, including all night. These include:
- Large water tank
- Auto shut off feature
- Tilt safety feature
- Overheating protective feature
Auto Shut Off Feature
The auto shut off feature enables the dehumidifier to shut off when the humidity drops to a set level. The dehumidifier then turns on automatically if the humidity levels increase above this set level. This is an important feature because it allows the dehumifidier to maintain humidity levels while you sleep.
If there is not auto shut off, the dehumifier will continue to run until the air is dry. This can cause sleep disturbances and health problems, such as dehydration and sinus issues.
Tilt Safety Feature
If there is an earthquake, or a person bumps into the dehumifier, this can cause a short circuit or the water tank can spill onto the floor.
The tilt safety feature will automatically turn off the machine if it tilts too far so it does not cause more damage.
Overheating Protective Feature
Dehumidifiers have motors which can overheat if left on too long. This can damage electronic parts, and lead to greater dangers, such as a fire hazard.
The overheating protective feature will shut the dehumidifier off when it detects the motor is getting too hot. Once the motor cools down enough, the dehumidifier will start up again.
A Large Water Tank
Having a large water tank will prevent it from filling up all the way while you are asleep. You could also get a dehumidifier with a drain pipe connected to another container. Either way, you want one that will not entirely fill up with water while you are sleeping.
Are Dehumidifiers A Fire Hazard?
Like freezers, refrigerators, and ovens, dehumidifiers pose a fire risk, even if minimal. There are several causes, including:
- Fire risk due to improper use
- Fire risk due to manufacturer error
- Poor dehumidifier maintenence
- Electrical wiring, motor, or other construction failure.
However, you could do everything right and the dehumidifier could still catch fire because it was manufactured poorly. So, to be sure, check the recall list for you dehumidifier.
The two most important causes of fire risk are:
- User error
- Manufacturer error
User Fire Risk Causes
Users contribute to the fire risk of their dehumifiers for two reasons:
- They do not maintain the dehumidifier.
- They use it wrong
A dehumifier that has dirty filters or grime in its motor will eventually has problems. The dehumifier must be maintained properly to keep it working and to decrease fire risks.
Not emptying the water tank when its full, or plugging the dehumifier in a power supply or outlet with other appliances can increase the chances it will break. Bumping or hitting the dehumidifier could also cause damage that may result in an increased risk of catching fire.
Manufacturer Fire Risk Causes
The manufacturer may be the cause of increased fire risk. This is usually due to wiring issues when the dehumidifier was made. Many dehumidifier models have been recalled due to increased fire risk from poor manufacturing.
Dehumidifier Fire Safety Features
Fortunately, compressor type dehumdifiers come with a fire safety safety feature. This is the auto defrost and will stop the dehumidifier from running when the temperature drops too low.
The cooling coil in a dehumidifier is what helps draw moisture from the air and helps keep the dehumidifier from overheating. However, if it gets too cold, it will no longer be able to operate. The auto defrost mechanism stops the device from running to allow the coil to warm up.
If the auto defrost is not there or is not working properly, the dehumidifier will keep running but will not pull humidity from the air and which could overheat the unit.
Also, if the coils were to freeze while operating, their lifespan will be shortened. So, the auto defrost feature is a must have if you are looking to buy a new dehumidifier. If you buy one, read the user’s manual thoroughly, and only plug the dehumifidifer directly into into the wall outlet.
Can Dehumidifiers Be Dangerous?
Besides being a fire hazard, dehumidifiers do come with other dangers (although minimal). These include:
- Too much noise
- Too much heat
All kitchen and home appliances produce noise, even a very small amount. Dehumidifiers produce sound that ranges between 30 to 60 decibels. Larger units will generally be louder than smaller ones. However, the age of the dehumidifier and brand can also affect the noise level.
Heat produced by a dehumidifier is only a minor problem to the people in the room it is placed in. However, if the dehumdifier overheats due to faulty construction or another issue, it could pose a fire or other health risk.
Are Dehumidifiers Safe To Leave On?
Dehumidifiers are designed to be able to run continuously for long periods of time without safety issues. However, it also depends on how long it is left on. They are very safe when turning on in a room and leaving them to run while you go do othertasks or run errands. You can even sleep with them running all night in the same room.
Is It Safe To Run A Dehumidifier All The Time?
Dehumidifiers are safe to run continuously, however this is not recommended. The only time a dehumidifier is needed is when humidity rises above 30% – 50%. Keeping it running a very long time increases the chances of it overheating, and will use more electricity leading to higher a utility bill.
To be sure your humdifier will not run continuously, the humidistat should not be set at too low of a temperature. If so, it will not stop when the humidity drops and will cause your energy bill to increase.
A dehumidifier that does not drain automatically can fill up and spill if it is left on for a long time. Running any device for a long period will shorten or use up its projected lifespan, and dehumidifiers are no different in this regard.
Additionally, running a dehumidifier all the time in your home could lead to health issues, such as dry eyes, skin, or sinus problems. If you already have these, a dehumidifier could make them worse.
A faulty dehumidifer may run constantly because its shut off mechanism or other function is not working properly.
Some signs a dehumidifier is not working properly causing it to run continously include:
- The coils have frozen, making it unable to remove humidity from the air.
- The auto-shutoff is malfunctioning, or the machine does not have one.
- The home has a structural issue in the walls or flooring allowing excess moisture to enter the home.
- The kitchen or bathroom do not have functioning exhaust fans that help remove moisture from cooking or taking showers.
If any of these causes are evident, it is important to fix them so your dehumidifier does not run continuously.
Is It Bad To Sleep With A Dehumidifier On?
A dehumidifier is safe to run in the room you are sleeping in. It may actually help you sleep better. However, this also depends on the size and power of your dehumidifier.
If your humidifier is lacking certain components, it can become dangerous to leave on all night while you sleep. These include:
- Large water reservoir or automatic drainage
- Auto shut off / auto restart
- A low noise rating
When Should I Turn Off My Dehumidifier?
Dehumidifiers can be run for extendend periods and actually perform better because it allows them to take the necessary humidity out of the room.
However, they should not be left on more than 12-15 hours at a time. After this period, they should be turned off.
Dehumidifiers should also be turned off when you leave for vacation, work, or when the humidity drops low enough. Setting the dehumidifier to turn off at 30% humidity is ideal.
If you leave the dehumidifier running too long, it can risk overheating, making the air too dry, or filling up the water tank until it overflows.
Old dehumidifiers can be more dangerous because they may have worn components, make loud noise, or do not have automatic shut off features. It is better to replace an old dehumidifier rather than risk a health or fire hazard.
Dehumidifier Gets Too Hot – Why?
It is possible for a dehumidifier to get too hot, and there are some reasons for this. These include:
- An overheating fan or other component.
- A lack of airflow is causing the motor to get too hot.
- The filters are clogged and need cleaning.
- The unit does not have an auto shutoff, or it is malfunctioning.
- The unit does not have an overheating protective feature, or it is malfunctioning.
A dehumidifier is not an unbreakable device and can suffer damage from excess usage and other factors. High humidity can damage electronics and electrical shorts could burn through wiring. If you notice these upon inspection, it is best to purchase a new dehumidifier.
Dehumidifier Makes Loud Noise
Can you use a dehumidifier with a baby?
It is safe to use a dehumidifier in a room with a baby. Excess humidity and moisture can cause respiratory problems in any person, adult or baby. Humidity also increases the growth of mold and mildew, which can cause allergic reactions.
However, it is important to be careful regarding the health affects, such as the baby’s sensitive skin. If the air becomes too dry or changes humidity too quickly, the baby’s skin could become dehydrated and crack. If you do use one near a baby, make sure the auto-turn off feature is working properly.
The noise of the machine could cause the baby to lose sleep, so make sure to only buy a quiet model. A smaller dehumidifier might be just right for a baby’s room.
Most importantly, make sure the dehumidifier has not been recalled at any time.
Can a Child Be Near A Dehumidifier?
Yes, children can be near dehumidifier and they should not have any health consequences. Just be careful your child does not bump into the dehumidifier and cause it to become damaged. Make sure the unit you use has a tilt safety feature.
Dehumidifier In The Bedroom
Having a dehumidifier in the bedroom is considered safe. However, if you experience dehydration or dry lips, the machine could be malfunctioning. Stories of dehumidifiers causing serious health issues, or even death, may be just a myth.
Humans are capable of staying in a dehydtrated state for some time before have serious health risks. As long as they have access to drinking water, a person will not likely die of dehydtration in their sleep, even in very arid regions such as the American southwest.
Can a Dehumidifier Be Left On Continuously?
A dehumidifier can be left on continuously in most cases. However, if the room is at the righ humidity level, which is between 30 and 50%, then you should turn the machine off. If the room gets too cold, the unit may have trouble working and this could damage it, so make sure to turn it off.
Like other home appliances, leaving a dehumidifier on for lengthy periods is not a good idea. This will strain the device and shorten its lifespan. Also, the unit should be able to create an adequate humidity level in less than 12 – 15 hours, so leaving it longer than that is not necessary.
Also, you can choose a dehumidifier that allows for setting a desired humidity level. Once it reaches this level, the machine will turn off automatically.
Should I Leave Dehumidifier On While On Vacation?
If you go on a long vacation, it is recommended to turn off all unneeded home devices and appliances. If you need to maintain a certain humidity level while you are away, you can choose a model that allows for a perferred humidity setting. This will keep the home at his humidity level and shut off automatically once it is reached. This option is great if you have a home in a humid region and want to keep mold from growing in your house.
Also make sure that if you do leave it on while you are on vacation, it has the ability to automatically empy its reservoir into a drain.
How To Dispose Of Dehumidifiers
You can dispose of old dehumidifiers, however its important not to just thrown them out with the trash. They contain chemicals and elements that are harmful to health and the environment. These include:
- Refrigerants (Freon, R-22, R-410A)
- Printed circuit board materials (tin,copper oxide, copper hydroxide, soldering, alumina, etc.)
- Dehumidifier coils (copper)
Some options for disposing of old dehumidifiers:
- Private sale
- Exchange program
- Recycling Centers
- Recycling by HVAC services
- Local waste disposal services
- Local landfills in separate hazardous disposal areas
If you are unsure of where or how to dispose of your dehumidifier, you can check on the EPA website which offers the Responsible Appliance Disposal Program (RAD) nationwide. Here you can also find out where to dispose of one near where you live.
Dehumidifier Recall – What You Need To Know
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission protects consumers from dangerous products and will not allow these products to be sold if they are reported to be dangerous by either consumers or the manufacturer. Many humidifiers were recently recalled becuase they pose significant fire hazards. Make sure to check with their recall list to see if your dehumidifier was on it.
Hisense Dehumidifier Recall
There have been many dehumidifiers that have been recalled in recent years due to risks of injury or death because of their use. Hisense is a multinational electronics and appliances maker headquartered in China. This company also makes dehumidifiers, however, they have not faced a recall of their units. Although the Hisense dehumidifier models have not recieved high ratings and are not recommended.
Which Dehumidifiers Have Been Recalled?
Many different brands have had their dehumidifiers mass recalled. These have occurred as recently as 2017, and include:
- New Widetech
- ArcticAire (Danby)
- Commercial Cool
- Perfect Aire
These products have been sold in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico through online stores and physical retail outlets (Lowes, Home Depot, etc.) with a total number of units reaching into the millions.
You can check the brand name, model number, and water storage capacity on the back of the device or the sticker label. You may be able to recieve a refund if you purchased one of these dehumidifiers in the past.
Defective Dehumidifier – Signs and Symptoms
A defective dehumidifier will overheat and cause possible burns to individuals. They can also become fire hazards. Internal components such as the auto-turn off function, automatic water drainage, or fan motor can be faulty.
A dehumidifier that makes loud noises when it operates is also a sign that it may be defective.
Make sure to check the warranty and reciept from the store you purchased it from to get a possible refund or replacement.
Types of Dehumidifiers
There are several types of dehumidifiers available, with the purpose of regulating humidity in the air. Different sized dehumidifiers also exist, and each type and size is more or less suited to be used in certain locations. The type of dehumidifier you choose will depend on the quality of the brand, where you intend to use it, and how much you are willing to spend.
Types of dehumidifiers include:
- Dehumidifying Ventilator – This uses an exhaust fan turned on by a sensor that sends air outside the room or building.
- Heat Pump Dehumidifier – These are popular types, and work by using heat exchange coils to remove moisture from the air and condenses and collects in a reservoir.
- Chemical Absorbent Dehumidifier (Desiccant) – These are single use dehumidifiers that use cartridges or containers filled with hydrophilic materials, such as silica gel or powder, along with a heating component that dries the material.
- Refridgerant Dehumidifier (Compressor) – These use refridgerant technology to remove water vapor as it passes over a cooled surface, where it condenses. These use less electricity than desiccant types because they do not need a heating component.
- Peltier Dehumidifier – These are named after the Peltier effect which is a thermoelectric cooling process. These work similar to refridgerant models, but do not use compressors. Instead, they run the air over two sides of the unit, each of different temperatures created through electricity.
- Whole-Home Humidifier / Dehumidifier – This is a dehumidifying / humidifying system built into the home that keeps the humidity at a set level by either taking humidity out or adding it to the air. These are useful for homes with fine art, or nice furniture installed. However, they are much more expensive than other types.
You can even make your own dehumidifier, but this is not recommended for a long term solution to your humidity problem.
It is possible to buy a dehumidifier that turns condensation into potable drinking water, but most units cannot do this.
Some dehumidifiers allow the unit to drain automatically into a hose that flows outdoors. This is very convenient and does not require regular emptying of the water tank.
How Many Years Do Dehumidifiers Last?
A typical dehumidifier will last between 5 and 10 years of regular use. This all depends on how often it is used, the make and model, and how it is treated. After it has aged somewhat, some issues may appear signaling it is not working we well as it should.
If you notice an older dehumidifier having trouble working well, consider repairing it or replacing it with a newer model. This is important because dehumidifiers can pose significant fire and health hazards.
Different types of dehumidifiers have unique lifespans based on how they operate. Refrigerant dehumidifiers rely on coils to draw moisture from the air, and once these start to fail, the machine will become almost useless. This often happens between 1 and 5+ years, depending on the model.
Desiccant dehumidifiers are not as effective as the refrigerant type, but last much longer because they have very few moving parts.
Good quality dehumidifier brands will have longer lifespans, and some include:
- Arctic King
- Perfect Aire
Make sure to check the ratings and reviews to find one that tends to last longer. Also, make sure they have warranties in case they have significant operational issues.
All home appliances have an expiration date, and much of this depends on their frequency of usage. Good quality dehumidifiers will generally last longer than cheaper ones. If you live in a region that gets humid during large parts of the year, then the machine will use up its lifespan sooner.
So, the factors affecting the lifespan of a dehumidifier are:
- How long and how often it is used
- How it often it is cleaned
- How well it is maintained
- The quality of the manufacturing
- How it is treated
If you run your dehumidifier all day long, over weeks or months, then it will wear out more quickly. You should not have to run it more than 12-15 hours per day, or this could cause the air to become too dry. If you plan on using it this often, make sure it has a large water tank to store the condensation or an automatic drain feature.
Newer dehumidifiers have built-in moisture meters and auto shut off mechanisms that turn off the machine once the humidity drops to a certain level, which means it could last longer.
Treating your dehumidifier well and maintaining it when needed will also go a long way in increasing its lifespan.
How Should I Set My Dehumidifier In The Summer?
An air conditioner is generally more effective in cooling down a home and decreasing humitity during the summer. However, the next best thing is to run a dehumidifier.
You should set your dehumidifier to start running when the humidity reaches 50-60%. If it has an automatic turn on mechanism, you can set this temperature and leave it to operate on its own.
However, when the humidity is high, the water reservoir will fill up faster as the humdity drops. Make sure to check the tank level periodically and empty it when need be.
How Do You Know When To Replace Your Dehumidifier?
Its time to replace your dehumidifier when it shows signs of not operating at full capability. It is safest to replace an ailing unit rather than try to fix it as they can become fire risks.
Dehumidifier components that most often break are:
- The compressor
- The capacitor
- The tank does not fill or it leaks water
If the compressor fails, the unit will no longer be able to draw moisture out of the air because the refrigerant will no longher be circulated properly.
The capacitor is a circuit board that manages the running of the motor. If this breaks or is damaged, the motor will not turn on or will sputter. If the motor is weakened in any way, the dehumidifier will become nearly useless as it needs to run for an extended number of hours.
Dehumidifier Location – Where Can You Safely Put One
Dehumidifiers are safe to place just about anywhere. However, like other appliances that are plugged into an outlet or have electrical components, dehumidifiers can be a fire hazard. Make sure to keep window shades, blankets, newspapers, and other flammable home goods away from them.
To be effective, dehumidifiers should be placed in rooms or locations with the following characteristics:
- It contains the humidity source.
- Its doors and windows can be closed.
You want to make sure to close the doors and windows to seal off the airflow so the dehumidifier can do its job of removing moisture from the room.
Dehumidifiers can be placed in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, basements, and crawl spaces. If you are not sure if a room needs one, you can use a hygrometer to do a humidity reading.
Dehumidifier Air Discharge
If your dehumidifier does not discharge air out the top, then avoid placing it against walls, window shades, or furniture so the air can flow freely away.
Why Is My Dehumidifier Tripping The Breaker?
A dehumidifier does not commonly trip the breaker on a continuous basis. However, a dehumidifier can trip the breaker for a number of reasons. These include:
- Poorly connected wiring
- Loose outlet connection
- Dirty filter
- Malfunctioning motor
- Clogged evaporator coils and fins.
- Blocked air vents
- Damaged electrical panel
- The circuit is overloaded due to sharing with other devices.
If the air vents are blocked by dust or an object, it willl cause the dehumidifier to have to work harder, causing a higher power demand, which could cause the breaker to trip.
It could take a little bit of time to troubleshoot the unit to find out which of these is causing the breaker to trip. If you find the evaporator coils or fins are dirty, you can gently clean them. However, it may be best to hire a repairman for this task or replace the unit.
A defective or damaged fan motor can cause an increase in the power intake, which could lead to a tripped breaker. However, a fan motor is difficult to repair or replace because it sits deep within the dehumifier, so hiring a professional may be required.
If you decide to repair your dehumdifier, first make sure it is powered down and unplugged before handling or you could face electrocution.
Does A Dehumidifier Need A Dedicated Circuit?
A dedicated circuit is a circuit set aside for use by one appliance to draw energy from the home. Most wall outlets are 15-amp or 20-amp circuits, but some appliances demand so much energy they could overload the wires and cause them to melt, creating a fire hazard.
Some appliances that need dedicated circuits include:
- Washer / Dryer
- Hot Tub
- Electrical stove
The National Electrical Code sets guidlines for the use of major appliances on dedicated circuits. By running large appliances on shared circuits, wires could overheat and the circuit breaker or fuse may trip. Dedicated circuits are required for appliances that have internal motors, such as washer / dryers and dehumidifiers.
Many Dehumidifiers will require using a dedicated outlet in their instruction manual. However, most dehumdifiers can max out a 15-amp circuit easily. Just unplugging other appliances from the outlet may not be enough. Unless that outlet is the only outlet on the circuit.
Most often, you can use circuits that other appliances are using, as long as those appliances are not being used while you run the dehumidifier.
Older homes most comonly experience circuit breaker trips because they were built at a time when the National Electrical Code was not updated to match the flood of new energy hungry appliances that were to appear.
Labels For Dedicated Circuits
Your electrical service panel, or breaker box, will likely have labels showing all dedicated circuits. If it does not, consider hiring an electrician to label them for you.
Should You Run A Dehumidifier In The Summer?
A dehumidifier can work great in the summer to remove excess humidity from your home. There are certain rooms and instances in the summer when running a dehumidifier is best. These include:
- Running it in stuffy rooms
- Running it in rooms with humidity above 40-50%.
- Running it when you have mild respiratory problems.
- If you live in a region that gets humid during the summer.
- In basements to prevent mold growth during summer.
Make sure to always follow the instruction manual regarding the size of the room and location to place the unit in. Also, close all doors and windows that could be allowing humidity into the room while you run the dehumidifier.
Before running the dehumidifier, make sure it is on a stable, flat surface such as a hard wood or tile flooring and cannot easily tip over.
When you leave home, it also best to turn off the dehumidifier to save on electricity costs and lengthen the lifespan of the unit.
During the summer when humidity is high, a dehumidifier should work well, but the water tank will fill up fast. So, make sure to keep an eye on it and empy it when necessary.
Also, turn off the dehumidifier if the humidity drops too low, or set it to turn off when it gets to 30% humidity.
Can You Run A Dehumidifier In The Winter?
Yes, you can run a dehumidifier in the winter. However, if the temperature drops too low, or if the auto-turn off does not work, the refrigerator coils could freeze and this will cause the unit to have to draw extra power to operate.
How Many Watts Does It Take To Run A Dehumidifier?
Dehumidifiers can certainly use a good amount of electricity when run for extended periods. You can check how may Watts (W) or Kilowatts (kW) a dehumidifier uses by looking in the user’s manual or on the back of the unit.
Different sized dehumidifiers use varying levels of power:
- Mini dehumidifier – 25 Watts
- Medium sized dehumidifier (35-pint) – 250 – 500 Watts
- Standard sized dehumidifier (50-pint) – 400 – 700 Watts
Dehumidifiers also vary in their energy efficiency. This is expressed in liters per kilowatt-hour (L/kWh) and describes the amount of moisture the device can pull from the air for each one kilowatt-hour of energy.
Humidifiers work very well when you need the humdity in your room or home to be lowered without causing too much fuss. However, they require proper operation and treatment to both function well and have a decent lifespan.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.