If you’re smelling a musty, “wet dog” smell or a strong sulfur odor coming from your dehumidifier, it’s usually mold/mildew.
Now, you’re likely to find mold in/on these 3 dehumidifier parts:
- A dirty basin
- Filthy coils
- Dusty fan blades
Like we mentioned above, that nasty smell is usually caused by mold. In order for mold to grow, it needs 4 ingredients:
What makes a dehumidifier smell bad?
- Darkness (UV rays kill mold)
- Warm temperature (70°–90°)
- Food (organic materials like dust and dirt)
- It’s located indoors, away from the sun
- Your dehumidifier extracts moisture from your home’s air
- It’s located in a warm area, with temperatures that easily fall within the 70°–90° range
When your dehumidifier removes moisture from your home’s air, that moisture collects in a basin (also called a water reservoir). Over time, this basin can get dirty from dust/dirt particles. This “food,” combined with warm water in a dark place, can foster mold growth.
#1: A dirty basin
Dehumidifiers extract moisture from the air as it blows across copper coils filled with a cold coolant gas. Moisture gathers on these coils because of the difference of temperature between the warm air and the cold coils. When dirt gathers on these damp coils, it creates mold.
#2: Filthy coils
Your dehumidifier fan blades could also be harboring mold and mildew. They come in contact with humid air at warm temperatures, and when dust settles on the blades, it completes the recipe for mold growth.
#3: Dusty fan blades
Try each of these steps to see if they remove the smell.
How to clean a smelly dehumidifier
1. Drain and clean your basin: Some dehumidifier models are self-draining while others require you to manually remove the basin and drain the water yourself. If you have a whole-home dehumidifier, it’s likely connected to your plumbing, so you don’t have to empty a water basin.
Once you drain the water from the basin, rinse it with a mild solution of vinegar and water to disinfect of mold spores.
2. Clean the coils: Follow these steps to clean the coils:
- Unplug your dehumidifier.
- Spray the coils down with a mild solution of vinegar and water (NEVER use chemicals, they damage the fragile coil components).
- Take a coil-cleaning brush and very carefully clean the coils.
- Allow the unit to dry in a warm place for at least 24 hours.
- Plug the dehumidifier back in and see if the smell persists.
- Unplug your dehumidifier.
- Remove the cage from around the fan with a screwdriver.
- Wipe down the blades with a solution of soap and water (don’t use any chemicals).
- Clear the blades of any debris like hair or dirt.
- Vacuum out the fan motor and the general area.
- Reattach the fan cage and test to see if the nasty smell persists.
Contact Air Experts to schedule a dehumidifier cleaning appointment with one of our trusted professionals. We’ll get your air smelling clean again in no time.
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