With portions of Minnesota receiving record amounts of rain this summer, dehumidifiers are working overtime. In the past, many of us could put them in dry dock by the end of October — if they were still functioning. Too often my dehumidifiers heaved their last gasp months before the end of the season.
I got so frustrated with replacing $200 dehumidifiers every year that I started buying them at Costco to take advantage of the unconditional return policy on most items.
Costco held up its end of the bargain by allowing me to return two LG models and one Consumer Reports-recommended Danby model that all quit dehumidifying (the fan still worked) after a year or so.
But none of the models that Costco was selling in 2012 was highly rated online, so I bought a Frigidaire at Best Buy along with an extended warranty. The Frigidaire model lasted almost two years, a step in the right direction. I replaced it under the extended warranty with another Frigidaire (model FAD504DWD) in June 2014. I also purchased a four-year extended warranty for $40. I am happy to report that the unit is still functioning normally.
Manufacturing quality has sunk pretty low when I find myself celebrating that an appliance has lasted two years. My advice when buying any dehumidifier is to buy an extended warranty of three years or longer or buy it from a retailer such as Sam’s Club or Costco with a liberal return policy.
Chris Carlson, owner of Appliance Care in Minneapolis, said that he’s not getting as many dehumidifier repair calls as he used to. But that’s not good news. He chalks it up to people realizing that the repair costs almost as much as the price of a new unit.
To keep a dehumidifier working, he recommends cleaning the filter as recommended. The Frigidaire has a “clean filter” light that alerts me to clean the filter about every seven days.
He also suggests using compressed air to blow out the dust on the condenser coils. Unfortunately, the Frigidaire model doesn’t allow the consumer to do that easily. I would have to disassemble the unit or spend $100 or more at a repair center.
The manufacturer does not recommend taking off the cover to clean the coils, but several sites online show how it can be done. If you want to try, be sure to unplug the unit first.
If you have a dehumidifier that was purchased between 2005 and 2013, it might be a fire hazard. More than 2 million units were recalled from manufacturers such as Danby, DeLonghi, Fedders, Fellini, Frigidaire, GE, Gree, Kenmore, Norpole, Premiere, Seabreeze, SoleusAir and SuperClima. For a list of models affected, go to Greedehumidifierrecall.com or call 1-866-853-2802. Before you buy a used dehumidifier, make sure it’s not on the recall list.
I’ve had more than my share of dehumidifiers in the past seven years, so I’ll recommend a few features to look for when you are shopping around. I have mine in the basement where I spend little time, so noise is not a factor. But if yours is in a commonly used living area, you will want a quieter model. Consumer Reports evaluates each model tested for noise.
I also like the automatic shut-off when the humidity in the room falls below a certain level. Some units run continuously until they manually shut off, which can lead to earlier failure.
A continuous drainage feature allows the collected water to flow into a garden hose and down a drain instead of collecting the water in a bucket that has to be emptied every couple of days. The “clean filter” alert is also a good reminder, especially because Frigidaire hid the filter above the water reservoir. I had one model in which I never cleaned the filter because I didn’t know it existed.
Regardless of the model you choose, I recommend going against conventional wisdom and buying an extended warranty.
Carlson doesn’t consider any one brand better than another. The 50-pint Frigidaire model that I bought at Best Buy is no longer sold there, although they do have the 70-pint model. Amazon still sells the 50-pint model, and it gets good reviews. Bestbuy.com has a good selection and the option for two- or four-year warranties for $40 and $50, respectively.
But if purchasing from Best Buy, I’d comparison-shop online and take advantage of its online price match.
I also recommend looking for a model rated 4½ or 5 stars online with 75 reviews or more. Read the comments to look for recurring reasons why people didn’t like it.
I thought my dehumidifier was on the blink a few weeks ago when it started collecting water in the reservoir instead of through the hose. Upon further inspection, the unit worked fine. The hose had become clogged with brown gunk in two years’ time and needed to be flushed.
That’s a routine maintenance tip that you won’t find in the owner’s manual.