How to Recharge a Dehumidifier: Everything You Need to Know About

Josh Miller

Josh is a contributing writer to the site and former HVAC specialist.

Last Updated on January 28, 2022

A dehumidifier is a beneficial tool for people who live in overly humid homes or environments. Its primary function is to reduce water vapor or moisture in the air.

Dehumidifiers have a wide variety of applications, and they improve people’s quality of life. Reducing the humidity level makes the air in your home less favorable for allergens such as mildew, mold, and dust mites. Dehumidifiers also help skin or respiratory problems associated with moist environments and allergens.

Not all dehumidifiers work in the same way. There are different types and models, and you’ll need to consider that some require recharging while others don’t. 

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Table of Contents

How to Know if You Need a Dehumidifier

One of the main reasons people use dehumidifiers is to protect their homes from moisture in the air, damaging the furniture, walls, and ceilings.

A simple way of identifying if you have problems related to humidity in your home is to look for water stains on walls and ceilings. Mildew or musty smells may also indicate you need a dehumidifier.

In addition to making your home cleaner and fresher, a dehumidifier helps with health-related issues such as allergies or respiratory problems. Many common allergic triggers such as mold or dust mites need a moist environment to thrive. Dust mites, for example, require a humidity level of 65% to survive and procreate.


Types of Dehumidifiers

When learning how to recharge a dehumidifier, you need to recognize the two main types of dehumidifiers, called refrigerant and desiccant dehumidifiers. You don’t have to recharge all dehumidifiers, and it’s helpful to know which model you own.

1. Refrigerant dehumidifiers

Refrigerant dehumidifiers, also called compressor dehumidifiers, have been the most common type of dehumidifier in past decades. Essentially, they use a fan to draw in air and pass it across cold coils. This causes the air to condense and turn into water, dripping into a tank or box inside the dehumidifier.

A substance called refrigerant is what cools down the coils. This chemical substance was invented in the early 1920s and is used in air conditioning systems, refrigerators, and dehumidifiers.

Essentially, a refrigerant is a substance that quickly absorbs heat. When it does, it changes from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid. Refrigerant dehumidifiers are noisier than other types. The refrigerant substance requires recharging.

2. Desiccant dehumidifiers

These dehumidifiers don’t need any refrigerant and are considered more eco-friendly. They are also much lighter than compressor dehumidifiers and are easy to carry around.

Desiccant dehumidifiers are also the quieter option because they don’t use a compressor generator. For all these reasons, many people find them more convenient and prefer them over traditional refrigerant dehumidifiers.

Most desiccant dehumidifiers work with a silica gel that absorbs moisture from the air. Once the silica gel has reached maximum absorption capacity, you can recharge the device by plugging it into a wall outlet. The dehumidifier uses electricity to power a small heating element, which dries the silica gel. In this way, the gel loses its moisture and is ready to absorb the moisture in a room again.

dehumidifier parts

How to Know What Type of Dehumidifier You Have

When learning how to recharge a dehumidifier, it’s essential to know what type of dehumidifier you are using. Only refrigerant or compressor dehumidifiers need recharging. You must refill the coolant or refrigerant inside the dehumidifier.

The easiest way to check what type of dehumidifier you have is to look at the unit itself. Many dehumidifiers have stickers with necessary information. You can also read the manual or look up the information on the manufacturer’s website.

If you own a desiccant dehumidifier, recharging it is easy and straightforward. All you need to do is to plug the device into the wall. Most devices use beads that change color when the gel can’t absorb any more moisture. If you own a refrigerant dehumidifier, you’ll need to learn when and how to recharge the unit.

When to Recharge Your Refrigerant Dehumidifier

You shouldn’t recharge the coolant more often than necessary for various reasons. Recharging the coolant too frequently reduces the longevity of your unit and gets expensive.

Most people hire an HVAC agency to refill the coolant on their dehumidifier. Paying for a service to refill the coolant costs between $50 to $200.


How to Recharge Your Refrigerant Dehumidifier

Unless you are very familiar with dehumidifiers and their mechanism, it’s not advisable to recharge the coolant by yourself. The reason being that coolant or refrigerant is highly toxic and can be very harmful to you and your family.

The most common types of coolant today are R-22 and R-410A. Older dehumidifiers tend to use R-22, and most modern models use R-410A. The label or instructions on your dehumidifier will indicate the type of coolant for your model.

It’s possible to recharge the coolant yourself, and back in the day, people would purchase rechargeable kits. Manufacturers sold these kits, and people could easily install them on a device.

However, most dehumidifier companies don’t sell them anymore. In recent decades, scientists and manufacturers realized how toxic and harmful coolant can be for people, and restrictions now dictate the use of this chemical. The easiest and safest way to recharge your dehumidifier is to contact an HVAC agency and use their recharging service. 

Consider Investing in a Desiccant Dehumidifier

If you are set on recharging the coolant on your dehumidifier, go for it. However, you could also invest in a new desiccant dehumidifier. These are simple to charge since you plug them into an outlet and wait for the gel to be ready. In general, they have much lower running costs and are easier to use.

Reap the Benefits of a Dehumidifier

If you live in an incredibly humid area, a dehumidifier can improve your quality of life. It reduces the damage moisture does to your furniture, walls, and ceilings while also improving the quality of the air you breathe. Some people will appreciate the relief a dehumidifier provides for allergy symptoms and skin or respiratory irritations.

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