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Catching Fire: What Makes a Recalled Dehumidifier Burst into Flames?

flames-black-300In light of some dehumidifier recalls that have been known to happen, with one of the most recent incidents in 2013, we thought you ought to know about dehumidifier safety and how exactly a dehumidifier might burst into flames.

Let it be known, this is uncommon. Sometimes it's a manufacturing issue, sometimes an issue of poor owner maintenance.

Dehumidifiers are commonly used today.

People are now aware of the benefits that these appliances have to offer. In areas where the air is humid, the quality of air suffers. As a result, you have to find a way to dehumidify the air to improve the quality.

One of the things that made the dehumidifier popular is the way they remove the moisture from the air. The dehumidifier works in a simple yet effective manner:

  • Since the internal components of a dehumidifier are not complex, it consumes less power.
  • You can let the dehumidifier run for a long time without having to worry about the costs.
  • The dehumidifier sucks in the air from the inlet which is then moved over cold tubes.
  • These cold tubes collect the moisture from the air and release the dry air back into the atmosphere.
  • The dry air that the dehumidifier releases mixes with the humid air in the room. This reduces the humidity in the air in the room.
  • The semi-dry air is then sucked back into the dehumidifier and the process repeats over and over.

As the dry air is pumped into the atmosphere continuously and the semi dry air sucked in, you will see a substantial improvement in the air quality.

  • The best part is that the efficiency of a dehumidifier can be enhanced. All you need to do is make a few tweaks to it. This includes moving the position of the dehumidifier and altering the specifications of the room.

    In general, you can keep a dehumidifier running for several hours at a stretch. The internal mechanics of this appliance can bear immense stress. But at the end of the day, it is a machine and it can fail.

    One of the most daunting failures with dehumidifiers is overheating. Most dehumidifiers are designed to work at a temperature of 65°F or above.

    So, if the temperature goes below 65°F, the dehumidifier could malfunction. All dehumidifiers have condenser coils that remove moisture from the air. The moisture accumulates on the coils and then drips down into the reservoir. But when temperature drops below 65°F, there is a good chance that the condenser coils will get too cold.

    When this happens, the water that the coils draw from the air does not accumulate in the reservoir. Instead, the water freezes on the condenser coils. When this happens, one of three things can go wrong with a dehumidifier.

    • The first and most common issue is that it does not remove any moisture from the air. The cycle will continue for as long as the dehumidifier is running, but you will not see any change in the air quality.
    • The second issue arises because of the frozen coils themselves. The condenser coils installed in the dehumidifiers are not meant to be frozen and being frozen can hinder their useful life. This can cause your dehumidifier to fail.
    • However, there is an even bigger issue on hand, that of the dehumidifier overheating. When the coils freeze, the dehumidifier itself begins to heat up. There are instances where the dehumidifier may catch fire.

    Issues with dehumidifiers are not only due to manufacturing defects.

    In most cases, the issues that occur with dehumidifiers are due to improper maintenance. This is why you should make sure that your dehumidifier is properly maintained.

    single coilMost people are not fully aware of how to maintain a dehumidifier. If you are not sure of how to take care of your dehumidifier, you should follow these tips:

    Cleaning the Coils

    • The most important aspect of maintaining your dehumidifier is cleaning the condenser coils.
    • The condenser coils are responsible for driving the moisture out of the air.
    • The air passes through the coils and the coils drive out the moisture from the air and into the reservoir.
    • During this process, the air can leave dirt and debris on the coils.
    • Over time this can cause a massive buildup of dust on the coil. This is why you should periodically clean the coils. You can clean dry coils using a vacuum cleaner.
    • Another reason you should keep the coils spick and span is because the dirt may cause water to freeze on the coils. Frozen water on the coil can cause overheating and lead to a fire.

    Fan Shaft Maintenance

    The fan is attached to a shaft. After a few weeks of use, the fan can come loose. This may cause the fan to dislodge from the shaft which could result in serious damage.

    This is why you should make it a point to remove the cover and tighten the screw every once in a while.

    • To tighten the screw for the fan shaft, you will have to remove the casing and access the fan.
    • Another thing to check for is if the screen has slipped. If the screen slips, you will not able to tighten it.
    • If this happens, you will either need to replace the screen or the fan, depending on the model of the dehumidifier.

    Fan Motor Service

    The fan motor is another part that needs to be looked after. The first thing you should do is check the fan speed. There are cases where the fan speed falls because the motor is not working properly. You will need to get assistance from a certified technician to deal with this issue.

    Filter Replacement

    Filter replacement is the most essential part of dehumidifier maintenance. If you do not replace the filter, it will not be able to pump air through. Undue stress will be put on the fan and there is a good chance it will stop working.

    hygrometer-300Dehumidifiers, like any other appliance, need proper treatment. This includes creating an ideal environment.

    If they are not in a setting that will enhance their performance, there is a chance that your dehumidifier will not work properly and it could also malfunction. This is why you should make an effort to place your dehumidifier in an area where it will function perfectly. This will also help in extending the life of the dehumidifier.

    Humidistat Setting

    You need to set the humidistat according to the level of humidity in the air. If you set it above or below the level required, the humidifier will not work properly, particularly if you set it higher. This would place undue stress on the machine, causing it to break down.

    Air Leaks in the Room

    Another thing to watch out for is the air leaks in the room, as any leaks will put extra strain on the dehumidifier. It will be same situation as when the humidistat is turned all the way up.

    Dehumidifier Placement

    Most people place the dehumidifier right alongside a wall when they should keep it at least 6 inches away from the wall, as recommended by most manufacturers.

    Now that you know what makes a recalled dehumidifier burst into flames, you should take good care of your appliance so that it lasts you for a long time to come.

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