Basement Dehumidifier Freezing Up
How can I prevent my Basement Dehumidifier
from Freezing Up?
By: Mark J. Donovan
Question: My basement
dehumidifier kept freezing up this past spring and I have no idea why it
happened. During the summer it has run fine. Do you have any thoughts on
why a basement dehumidifier could freeze up?
Answer: A dehumidifier
consists of a fan, a condenser, and heating and cooling coils. It is
effectively an air conditioner, except that the heating and cooling
coils are collocated in the same unit.
A basement dehumidifier works by
drawing warm moist air into it and over the cooling coils. The moist warm
air then condenses onto the coils and drips into a holding pan or out a
drip hose. The cool dry air is then warmed by the heating coils back to the
room temperature as it exits the dehumidifier.
A dehumidifier works best at
warmer ambient temperatures and higher relative humidity levels.
As the basement dehumidifier
condenses the warm moist air, the water vapor generally produces enough
heat to prevent the cooling coils from freezing up. However when the
ambient air temperature is cool, e.g. below 60o Fahrenheit,
and/or the relatively humidity is below 45%, dehumidifier freeze up is
possible. The risk of a basement dehumidifier freezing up is increased if
the cooling coils are covered in dirt and dust, which can frequently
happen to a basement dehumidifier.
I suspect your particular
basement dehumidifier freeze up situation was the result of too cool an
ambient air temperature in the basement. Typically unheated basements are
around 55o Fahrenheit during the winter/spring seasons. If the relatively
humidity was also low then the chances of the basement dehumidifier freezing
up were further enhanced.
Preventing Basement Dehumidifier
To prevent a basement dehumidifier
from freezing up there are number of steps you can take.
First, cycle the basement
dehumidifier off and on every few hours, or if the humidity is already low,
then turn it off altogether. By turning the basement dehumidifier off
periodically you can give the cooling coils a chance to warm up and melt
any ice that may have formed on them.
Second, by raising the room
temperature you can reduce the risk of ice formation in the basement
Photo By Mark Donovan
Third, periodically clean the
basement dehumidifierís cooling coils and fins. By keeping them clean, water
can more easily drip off of them and prevent the buildup of ice.
Finally, raise the basement
dehumidifier up off the floor of the basement. Warm moist air has the tendency
to rise and accumulate near the basement ceiling, whereas the cooler drier air
falls and clings near the basement floor. By raising the basement dehumidifier
up off the floor, the dehumidifier can work more effectively and have a reduced
risk of freezing up.
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