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How to Make a Dehumidifier Quieter

Generally, a newer dehumidifier is not a loud machine. Most of them produce between 55 decibels and 65 decibels. Which is equivalent of the noise made by an electric kettle or toothbrush and a conversation in a restaurant.

Older dehumidifiers are usually louder than newer ones. Using some of the following suggestions can help quiet your dehumidifier and make your home an even quieter and more pleasant place. Even new machines will benefit from some of these ideas.

Dehumidifier in a finished basement
Room Dehumidifier

 

Page Contents

 

7 Ways to Make a Dehumidifier Quieter

Making a dehumidifier quieter is usually an inexpensive and simple project. Accomplishing each of these suggestions only takes a little time and patience.

Note: Turn off and unplug the dehumidifier before performing any work on it. Especially if you are working inside the cabinet. Electrical shocks can be very nasty.

 

1) Level the Dehumidifier

Place your dehumidifier on a smooth level section of the floor, countertop, or table top. Use a torpedo level to check how level the machine is. If you are not setting it on the floor, use the level to make sure that the table is level. Also, make sure it is stable. An off-level machine will make more noise–things like the bucket rattling or the motor sounding not quite right. 

Most dehumidifiers are equipped with 4 dual castors to make moving easy. Although many of the smaller tabletop units only have rubber feet. If you cannot find a level position for your machine, place something like an anti-vibration pad under the wheels or feet as required. You should also turn the machine over and check the wheels and feet for damage. If one of them is damaged or missing, it should be replaced.

Note: Running a machine off level or unstable is not only noisier but can shorten the lifespan.

 

2) Use an Anti-Vibration Mat

While you are leveling your dehumidifier, give some consideration to setting it on an anti-vibration mat. Dehumidifiers are not overly loud, but machine vibration on a hard surface like tile, laminate, or tabletop can set up a low-level humming sound. Hard surfaces will also reflect noise and/or produce echoes. Some of the things you can use to set your dehumidifier on to reduce noise include:

  • Anti Vibration Mat.
  • Exercise Mat.
  • Piece of Carpet. Preferably wool because it is heavier and provides more absorption.
  • Puzzle Mat
  • Thick Towel. Or any other heavy absorbent material.

You can also use anti-vibration pads. It is a little more difficult to position the machine on these, but if you use thick cork composite pads, they can be trimmed to make levelling easier. You can also use furniture or appliance leg pads. All of these work well to stop vibration, but you need a full-sized mat to eliminate reflected noise and echoes.

For more information on mats please see our articles The Best Treadmill Mat for Noise Reduction and Best Anti Vibration Pads and Mats for Washing Machines and Dryers.

 

3) Lubricate Dehumidifier Moving Parts

Almost all electric motors now run with sealed bearings–meaning they do not need lubrication. That does not mean that some parts of the dehumidifier do not need to be oiled occasionally. Usually a drop or two of light oil on the fan blade shaft will keep things running smoothly and quietly.

Any other lubrication–such as movable louvers or grills, the water bucket, removable filters, etc. should be done with dry spray silicone. Grilles and filters can vibrate against immovable parts making squeaking noises. The silicone will provide a non-messy solution. 

All lubrication of your dehumidifier should be done about every 6 months if it runs year-round. At the beginning and end of the season, if it does not run continuously.

Note: Let your owner’s manual be your guide. Some will recommend lubrication. Some will not. Lubricating a sealed bearing will wash out the bearing grease and ruin the bearing.

 

4) Keep the Humidifier Clean – Inside and Outside

Most dehumidifiers have a lot of plastic in their construction. The combination of moving air, electricity, and moisture can create static on plastic that attracts dust and dirt. Two places that dirt and dust accumulate in greater amounts are the motor and fan blades. Dirt on the fan blades will likely not be uniform. You could start hearing a thrumming vibration sound if the build-up is big enough because the fan is out of balance.

Moisture in the air combined with the dust makes a nice adhesive. Sometimes you have to scrape the accumulation off–especially if it has not been done for a while. Use a butter knife, not a sharp blade. (Scratching the plastic fan blades makes it easier for the next layer to settle onto the blades.) Finish cleaning with a non-abrasive cleaner–like dish detergent or Soft Scrub. Then rinse and dry.

Dirt on the motor can cause it to overheat, and possibly burn out. It will certainly have a shorter life span if it is continuously running hot. When cleaning the motor, pay particular attention to any air intakes and electrical connections. Use a vacuum cleaner, Swiffer, and Q-tips as necessary. You may also need to do a little washing if dirt and dust have been baked on.

Note: Use Lemon Pledge on almost any plastic to remove the static. A light application every 6 months will help to keep dust from sticking. This works on all kinds of vinyl such as plastic appliance housings, vinyl windows, computer keyboards, etc.

 

5) Dehumidifier Maintenance

Dehumidifiers do not require a lot of maintenance, but a few things should be checked regularly. And attended to as required.

  • Wash the Air Filter. If your dehumidifier starts making banging noises, there is a good chance that the filter is plugging up. Although a few dehumidifiers have disposable filters, most of them have re-usable filters that can be washed. After vacuuming them, most can be washed in warm water using dish detergent. Once rinsed, let them dry thoroughly before installing them into the machine. Clean filters save energy, extend machine life, keep it quieter.
  • Position the Bucket Properly. Improperly installed water reservoirs can cause a rattling noise. Some newer models have a safety switch to prevent the machine from running if the container is not inserted properly. You may have to wiggle the bucket around a bit to get it seated properly. In some cases–when the machine is off level–you may need to move the machine around some to get the bucket to seat properly. This can happen because the manufacturer used soft or thin vinyl which will sag or not keep its shape.
  • Tighten Screws. Dehumidifier screws should not become loose. But they can and do–causing loose parts to rattle against each other, or the motor hum loudly because it is not seated tightly. It never hurts to check all fasteners when you are cleaning the inside of the machine. Something as small as a loose latch screw can make extra noise or prevent the machine from working properly.
  • Castors and Feet. Many dehumidifiers have cheap plastic castors or feet that can be easily damaged if the machine is dropped or dragged sideways. The damage may be enough to make the machine sit off level, which can increase vibrations and noise. Replace any damaged parts.

 

6) Ensure Unimpeded Air Flow

The harder a dehumidifier has to work, the more noise it will make. Obstructed air intakes and outlets will make the machine work harder. Make sure that the machine is sitting far enough away from walls and furniture to allow sufficient airflow. Some owner’s manuals will provide distancing information, and some will not. Most manufacturers that provide a distance, recommend at least 6″. You should plan for that. If you hear the dehumidifier laboring, move it further away from walls, furniture, and even plants.

Do not throw a blanket, towel, or anything else over your dehumidifier to quiet the noise. This will impede the airflow defeating the purpose of the machine, and possibly causing it to overheat. Overheating can cause damage to the motor, tripped breakers, or even a fire.

 

7) Check the Fan Blade and Housing

Short of a huge dirt build-up, your fan blades should never suddenly start to hit the housing. But stuff happens. The blade could come loose and start sliding on the shaft. Your filter could be damaged and bent closer to the fan. The plastic housing could have been bent or broken. Small hands could have inserted a chopstick into the works. And too many other weird things to mention.

If any of these happen you may start hearing grinding sounds coming from the dehumidifier. Or something worse. It may not work at all if the fan will not turn. Make sure you check this out when you are doing your lubrication and maintenance routine. If you can spin the fan by hand and it runs freely and noiselessly, everything is probably good.

If the fan blades hit the housing or some foreign object, you will have to rectify the situation. The blades may be difficult to turn or not turn at all. If they are not caught on something, you may have a motor problem. Plug the machine in and turn it on. If the motor hums but does not turn the blades, it will likely have to be repaired or replaced. If the motor does nothing, try another plug, make sure the switch is working, and check the breaker on the machine–if it has one.

If you are not comfortable trying to fix it yourself, take your dehumidifier to a competent repair shop. Get a quote–even a ballpark one–before having any work done. Not much sense spending $100.00 to repair an $89.00 machine.

 

Buy a New Dehumidifier

You might decide that it is just not worth it anymore. Old dehumidifiers are noisier than new ones. Some machines produce as little as 40 decibels of noise–about the sound of a babbling brook. They are new, more energy-efficient, and come with a warranty. You can find some pretty decent dehumidifiers for well under $400.00. Please see our article The Quietest Dehumidifier for much more detailed information on buying a new quiet dehumidifier.

Even if you buy a new dehumidifier, you can use all of the ideas from this article to keep it running efficiently and running for a long time. 

  • Level. Eliminates noise and improves longevity.
  • Mat. Eliminates echoes and vibrations.
  • Lubricate. Provides smooth quiet running and longevity.
  • Clean. Helps make for a clean long lasting machine.
  • Maintenance. Catch problems before they arise.
  • Air Flow. Makes for efficient quiet operation.

 

FAQs

Here are a few common dehumidifier questions.

 

1) Can dehumidifiers be dangerous?

Yes. About 2 million dehumidifiers have been recalled due to a potential fire hazard.

 

2) Can I run a dehumidifier 24 hours a day?

Yes, but it may not be necessary. Most people find that a relative humidity between 30% and 50% is comfortable. So once you get into that range, you may want to shut the machine off. Some machines allow you to set the humidity level. The machine will then turn on and off as required.

 

3) What is the quietest dehumidifier?

Probably a desiccant dehumidifier. These units are very quiet because they do not use a compressor. The desiccant wheel uses heat and absorption to remove humidity. They are not completely silent.

 

4) How loud should my dehumidifier compressor be?

50 decibels or less. That is the noise level of your refrigerator compressor. The two compressors are virtually identical and will make about the same amount of noise. Just a gentle humming.

 

5) Can I quieten my dehumidifier with acoustic panels?

Maybe a little, but not much. To be truly effective, you would have to sound treat the entire room. Kind of like using an elephant gun on a mosquito. You could probably absorb a little sound by applying acoustic panels on an adjacent wall. The noise difference is probably negligible.


Terry Schutz

I have worked as a contractor, sales person, and business owner in the construction industry for over three decades--mostly in home renovations and also as a home builder. I have been married to the same wife for 46 years. We have 3 children and 4 granddaughters. I have also been writing semi-professionally for about 20 years--construction articles, personal stories, and politically incorrect social commentary.


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