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Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: March 29, 2009 02:55PM
We have a Kenmore dehumidifier (50 pint) purchased and put into use in our basement 15 years ago. It is in constant use through the spring, summer and fall. For 13 years it has worked like a champ. Throughout the last year the bottom two rows of coils would ice up and I would have to occasionally shut it down and let it thaw. This spring the coils will ice up completely from top to bottom. The fan appears to be moving a good amount of air and I can see light through the coils (using a flashlight), so I am assuming the coils are not plugged. What could cause this and is it worth repairing? I did STF and found a thread suggesting plugged coils or low freon. Is it possible that, in spite of my flashlight test, the coils are plugged? If so how do I attempt to clear the blockage in between the layers of coils? If it is low freon I am guessing this unit uses R-12 and would be not worth attempting a recharge? Thanks for your help!

Dave



...on the trailing edge of technology.
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Re: Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: AAA
Date: March 29, 2009 03:02PM
When mine gets like that, even when brand new, I solved it by making sure the 'off' cycle was longer. Depends on your model. But, it needs time to warm up to drip dry. Again, not sure on yours.
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Re: Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: March 29, 2009 03:35PM
AAA-thanks for your post! Yes, what you pointed out is true and I discovered that issue shortly after we purchased the dehumidifier 15 years ago. My concern is that we have used the same settings (off cycle interval) as we have for the past several years when there wasn't the icing problem. I've even tried setting the humidistat so the unit would cycle on less frequently, but it still ices up. I would consider replacing it if it is not cost effective to repair it, but I am concerned hearing that newer duhumidifiers are less durable than these older units. Any other ideas or insights?

Dave

Edit: I should add that about a week ago I even used a floor fan and aimed the stream of air, from the fan, directly toward the coils. They still iced up...



...on the trailing edge of technology.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/29/2009 03:37PM by davec.
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Re: Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: troywellbuilt
Date: March 29, 2009 03:35PM
When the temp in my basement is below 60 I get ice. Otherwise no ice on the coils.
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Re: Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: March 29, 2009 03:39PM
troywellbuilt- thanks for your post! Last year through the summer we had the icing issues. I am sure the basement temperature was well over 70 degrees.

Dave



...on the trailing edge of technology.
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Re: Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: iaJim
Date: March 29, 2009 04:08PM
When I have had this happen, either the coils were dirty (dust cakes onto the coils and makes sort of a paper) or the dehumidfier needed a compressor repair/charge. Since this is cost prohibitive, I've always repaired them. Costco sells DeLonghi dehumidifiers at a fair price, and they have outlasted the last several dehumidifiers I have bought. Don't expect another 13 year run though.
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Re: Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: March 29, 2009 04:08PM
Have you cleaned the coils ? They need to be washed off occasionally. I know it sounds strange, but they do accumulate dust and grime, and the freeze/thaw cycle doesn't take it all the way off. Every time mine did that, I just rinsed it and that helped
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Re: Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: March 29, 2009 04:29PM
iaJim- thanks for your post! There is no obvious dirt on the visible (outer) layer of coils. I may have to dig deeper. I appreciate the recommendation if I should need a replacement unit.

cbelt3-thank you for your post! I vacuum the outer layer of coils yearly. No, I haven't washed off the coils. How would I do that? I picture using a garden hose outdoors, but wouldn't I short out some of the electrical components? Thanks for your help!

Dave



...on the trailing edge of technology.
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Re: Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: March 29, 2009 04:36PM
Dave- historically I've taken the dehumidifer case off, exposing the coils. Then I've (after unplugging and letting everything come up to room temperature) used a spray degreaser and a light spray of hot water to clean it all off, using a soft brush (specifically a toilet brush) to remove the caked on materials. It all depends on how the unit is constructed. Then I let it dry for a day or so, and fire that sucker back up.

Note also that the fan will become caked with dust as well, but you need to be more careful washing that off, as fan bearings are rarely sealed. Do also oil the fan if it allows (most of them do not have oil holes any more). If the fan is not working properly, you'll have icing problems as well.

My dehumidifier was rescued from a trash heap in front of someone's house, treated to this process, and it still works after 20 years. As I recall, I had to replace the fan motor once.

Because these are essentially simple refrigerators with sealed works, they're pretty robust- especially the older ones. The newer ones are made with shorter lived materials, so they usually don't last far beyond the warranty period. Dang planned obsolescence.
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Re: Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: andypie48
Date: March 29, 2009 04:38PM
its low on freon. at that age it might be a leak or a blocked tube.

often just adding freon is a very temporary fix. might be time.....
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Re: Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: davec
Date: March 29, 2009 04:54PM
cbelt3- I replaced the fan about 3 years ago. The old one had oil ports (that I utilized every year) but the new one does not. The fan does seem to be putting out quite a bit of air. As I recall the coils are stacked vertically in layers with no clearance between the layers. I can certainly access the outer layers, but not the inner layers. I suppose I could use an old pressurized garden sprayer with hot water and spray through the stack of coils and cover all the moisture sensitive parts with plastic bags. It certainly is worth a try! Thanks!

andypie48-thanks for your post. If a good cleaning doesn't fix it I suspect it could be low freon. If that should be the issue we would look at a replacement.

If it needs replacement any recommended models (and models I should avoid?)

Thanks for all of the help!

Dave



...on the trailing edge of technology.
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Re: Dehumidifier coils icing. Repair or replace?
Posted by: AAA
Date: March 29, 2009 09:13PM
The only thing left, then, is


Global Warming.
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