We all know the feeling of walking into a humid bedroom or kitchen at night. The air is thick with moisture and it's hard to breathe.
The dehumidifier in your home has been working for weeks, but now there are ice crystals on the coils! What happened? Why did this happen? And how do you fix it? We'll answer these questions and more about what to do when your dehumidifier starts freezing up. You may be surprised by what we find out!
So let's get started...
UPDATED Wednesday, March 22nd 2023:
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What Causes a Dehumidifier to Freeze up? (Ice Up)
It may seem counterintuitive, but the dehumidifier that seems to be working has started icing up. What can cause this? There are a number of different factors which can lead to your dehumidifier icing up:
1. Room Temperature
The dehumidifier is running to remove the moisture from the air in your home. When you increase the room temperature, you are increasing the amount of water vapor that can be stored in a given volume of air. This results in more moisture being released by your dehumidifier and lower relative humidity in your home. In other words, as the room temperature rises, your dehumidifier is able to remove less moisture from the air and consequently there is more water vapor left for it to freeze!
2. Air Flow
When the dehumidifier begins freezing up, it is a clear sign that something has changed. If you notice ice building up on your dehumidifier coils, check to see whether the air flow has decreased or increased.
Airflow changes in two ways:
a) You may have shut off a window or door which was acting as an air vent. This will affect how much water vapor can exit the dehumidifier and cause it to freeze.
b) Or, you may have opened a window or door which allows more moisture into the room. When this happens, the dehumidifier will have to work harder to remove moisture from the air because of less effective air flow. This causes it to freeze up.
3. A Warning
If you ever notice that your dehumidifier is icing up or freezing, there's a good chance that the relative humidity in your home is very high.
This means that it's important to do something about it! If not, everyone in your family could end up getting sick from breathing this moist air. We'll talk more about this in the next section.
4. Clogged Air Filter
If you don't check your air filter at least once a week, this is probably the reason that your dehumidifier is icing up.
When the air filter gets clogged up with dust and other debris, it stops doing its job of keeping large particles out of the air stream. This increases inlet resistance to your dehumidifier and causes it to work harder. When you clean your dehumidifier air filter, the system will operate more efficiently once again.
5. Other Mechanical or Electrical Failures
If your dehumidifier has become damaged or faulty in any way, there may be something mechanically wrong with it. This can cause it to work excessively hard and throw off the balance of airflow.
If this happens, your dehumidifier could freeze up or even blow a fuse! You may need to call in a professional repairman if you notice that your unit has stopped working for any reason.
6. Running Below 65°F Temperature
Some manufacturers recommend that you don't leave your dehumidifier running below 65°F. When the room temperature falls too low, condensation can form on the condenser coils and freeze them.
7. Faulty Humidity Sensor
If the humidity control sensor has become clogged by dust or damaged in any way, it will prevent your dehumidifier from accurately measuring levels of moisture in the air.
When you notice that your dehumidifier is icing up, check the humidity detector to see if there are any abnormalities. This is where you'd clean residue off the sensor's glass cover if necessary.
8. Faulty Bi-metal Thermostat
If your dehumidifier starts icing up, it is possible that the bi-metal thermostat has been damaged.
When you notice ice building up on your coil or freezing around vents, check whether the temperature dial is in the off position. If so, move it to another setting and see if there's a change in behavior.
9. Faulty Fan Motor Or Blower Wheel
If your dehumidifier begins icing up and the temperature dial is set to a warmer temperature setting, there's a good chance that the fan motor or blower wheel has been damaged.
You could try turning it off for a few minutes and then turning it back on again. This will usually repair any problems with the fan motor / blower wheel and should solve the icing issue as well.
10. Dirty Evaporator/ Condenser Coils
If your dehumidifier begins icing up, check the condenser coils to see whether they have become clogged with dust. If there is a buildup of dirt or debris on the condenser coils and fins, it will affect how much heat can be pushed into the room air.
When this happens, ice builds up more easily and causes freezing problems for the dehumidifier. To clean the condenser coils, simply disconnect them from the unit and blow them out with a leaf blower or vacuum cleaner.
How to Prevent A Dehumidifier Freezing Up? (Stop from Icing Up)
So now that you know how to fix it when your dehumidifier freezing up, the next step is to prevent this problem from happening in the first place.
What Can You Do to Stop it?
1. Check Temperature
The first thing you should do is check the air temperature setting on your dehumidifier.
If it gets too warm, the air temperature will be warmer and this could cause moisture to form more easily. If the dial setting isn't in a range that prevents the dehumidifier freezing up from happening, move it down to a colder temperature and see if that solves the problem.
2. Check Air Flow
If the air flow is blocked, your dehumidifier will have a harder time getting rid of the moisture in the air and this could result in freezing problems.
Confirm that there are no obstructions to any vents or grills on your unit. Clean them off if necessary.
3. Check for Debris and Build-up
Check the evaporator coil and fins on your dehumidifier to see whether they are clogged up with any residue.
This could prevent the unit from being able to push enough heat into the air which would result in ice buildup during the winter months.
4. Clean It
Even if you are using a dehumidifier in an area that is constantly clean, there may be dust or dirt buildup on the fins and evaporator coil.
Left unattended, this can cause problems with your unit's functionality. To avoid these issues, you should check for buildups regularly and remove them when necessary. Cleaning the dehumidifier coils will also make it easier for the unit to remove moisture from the air.
5. Switch It Off
If your dehumidifier is icing up when temperatures are warm, you may want to switch it off during certain times of day so that it doesn't run constantly. This will allow it time to cool down and will prevent your dehumidifier coils temperature from getting too hot.
You can turn your dehumidifier back on once it has cooled off or you could try using a timer to control when the unit switches on and off automatically. This is one of the best ways to keep your coils clean and ice-free without needing to worry about it.
How to Repair a Dehumidifier with Coils That are Icing Up? (Freezing)
Dehumidifiers are designed to get rid of excess moisture in the air. They do this by collecting water from the air and then drying it out so that it has a lower relative humidity than before. But if your coils are icing up, there's likely something wrong with your unit. In order to fix any problems, you'll need to first identify what caused them in the first place:
1. Humidity Control
If the humidity control setting is too low, your dehumidifier will continue to run until it is able to get rid of all of the moisture in the air. This can cause icing problems if there isn't enough airflow for the water that has condensed on the coils. To fix this issue, set your unit's humidity level higher than normal so that it doesn't continue to run once the air has dried out.
2. Blower Wheel or Fan Blade Sticking
If your unit has a fan or blower wheel, it could be stuck and unable to push air through the coils properly. This can cause ice buildup because the coils stay moist for longer than normal. To fix this problem, check that the fan blade is not clogged with dirt. Use a soft brush to clear any dirt away from the fan blade. If there is still an issue, you may need to have your dehumidifier professionally serviced.
3. Fan Motor Sticking
A fan motor that is not running properly can prevent the coil from clearing properly. This may cause it to ice up and could even result in water leaking onto the floor. To fix a fan motor sticking, clean dust out of the vents on your dehumidifier or replace them if necessary. If there's still an issue, you should take your unit to a professional for servicing.
4. Bi-Metal Thermostat
A bi-metal thermostat is used on some units to prevent the coils from icing up. However, if they are not working properly, this can cause problems as well. To fix this issue, check that the thermostat is set high enough so that it doesn't turn off and on too quickly.
5. Humidity or Temperature Sensor
If you have a temperature sensor on your dehumidifier, make sure that it is set near the unit and at a reasonable distance away. This will prevent the unit from incorrectly registering moisture levels when air isn't flowing properly. To fix this issue, adjust the location of your temperature sensor or replace it if necessary.
6. More Repair Parts
In addition to the coils, you'll find that there are a number of other parts that can ice up. Make sure that none of these have been damaged and replace them if necessary. If all else fails, you should take your dehumidifier to someone who has experience fixing this type of appliance so they can fix it for you.
7. Enter model or part number
Visit the manufactures website and look up your dehumidifier or check the model and part number of your unit. You may be able to find out what went wrong by reading through reports on other similar models, but this won't work for all units. If you can't find a solution, try searching forums like RepairClinic or ASK-YOUR-FIXER where you can post a question and get answers from other people who repair or fix these appliances for a living.
Dehumidifier Icing Up FAQ
Why Is My Kenmore Dehumidifier Icing Up?
If the airflow is restricted on your Kenmore dehumidifier, the evaporator coils will get too cold. As humid air passes over the evaporator coils, it’ll condense and freeze onto them. Eventually, the entire evaporator coil assembly could ice up from this and frost over.
Garrison Dehumidifier Ice Build Up?
The Garrison dehumidifier has a layered wick filter that’s responsible for controlling the humidity in its enclosure. If the filter gets clogged with dirt and debris, it can’t do its job properly. This could cause ice to form on the coils due to condensation as the thermostat tries to control the temperature inside of the unit. To fix this problem, clean or replace your wick filter so that it can do its job and prevent ice from forming on the coils.
Ice Buildup On Frigidaire Dehumidifier?
If the coils on your Frigidaire dehumidifier get too cold, ice can form on them. This can also happen if there is condensation in the unit because of dirty or clogged filters and restricted airflow. To fix this problem, clean or replace the filters so that they can do their job properly. You could also make sure that there's adequate airflow in your unit by making sure it has enough space to breathe and making sure the vents are free of dust particles.
Related Article: Frigidaire 70-Pint Dehumidifier Review
Should You Run A Dehumidifier In The Basement In The Winter?
Only run a dehumidifier in your basement during the winter if the room has high humidity. To monitor the relative humidity in your basement, hang a humidistat on the wall.
Related Article: Dehumidifiers for Basements