Freon In Dehumidifiers – How To Deal With This Dangerous Gas

Josh Mitchell

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Josh Mitchell

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Holly Curell

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I’ve used dehumidifiers for years in my home, and I’ve even installed them in warehouses and building sites.

I tend to use refrigerant dehumidifiers because they work more quickly, but when certain types of Freon were banned in 2020 I started to look more closely at what refrigerants are being used in dehumidifiers.

The majority of dehumidifiers use refrigerants, and the most common refrigerant is still Freon. 

However, there are different types of Freon, and there are other refrigerants being used in dehumidifiers. In this guide, I’ll explain:

  • What Freon is
  • What other refrigerants are used in dehumidifiers
  • And whether it’s safe to add Freon to your dehumidifier yourself

Key Takeaways

  • Refrigerant dehumidifiers have Freon or R-22 refrigerant which is used in its condenser coil for extracting humidity from the air. Refrigerant dehumidifiers are the most common type.
  • Because Freon or any refrigerant is a harmful gas for the environment, dehumidifiers should be disposed of carefully at the end of their life.
  • If you wish not to deal with Freon or any other refrigerant, then you can choose to get a desiccant dehumidifier which use an absorbent material.

What Is Freon?

Freon is a chlorofluorocarbon (a colorless gas), best known as “R-22.” It’s a type of refrigerant used in dehumidifiers and air conditioning.

The refrigerant gas Freon is used in the condenser coils of refrigerant dehumidifiers and is a vital part of the dehumidification process. 
do dehumidifiers have freon

As air passes through the cold coils the excess moisture is extracted, leaving you with dry air.

ACLAB Note:

There are other types of refrigerant available that work in the same way as Freon, but Freon is the most widely used.

Recently, it has been known to contribute to the depletion of the ozone; therefore, it is gradually being phased out.

TL;DR: Freon is a dangerous gas which contributes to ozone depletion. It is found in many dehumidifier, particularly the older ones.

Tanks of Freon to Recharge Dehumidifiers

Do Dehumidifiers Have Freon In Them?

Most dehumidifiers use Freon refrigerant in their refrigeration system.

Some modern dehumidifiers use a different type of refrigerant, and desiccant dehumidifiers use a different system, but if you have an old dehumidifier it likely uses Freon.

A Freon dehumidifier uses it to cool the air in the same way your centralized air conditioner works.

The only difference is that the indoor air is warmed with the help of an additional heating component before it’s released back into your home.

This way, you have the humidity extracted from the house without the house cooling down, maintaining the indoor heat.

Refrigerant Dehumidifiers Vs. Desiccant Dehumidifiers

Not all dehumidifiers use Freon R-22 refrigerant.

Freon is a specific brand (think Coca-Cola or Pepsi) of refrigerant that is very popular, but a modern refrigerant dehumidifier is more likely to use Freon R 410A. 

R 410A is a less dangerous gas that doesn’t contribute to ozone depletion, so there’s less risk if the Freon leaks. [1]

A desiccant dehumidifier doesn’t contain Freon or any type of refrigerant. Instead, they use an absorbent material which is usually filled with silica gel to capture the excess humidity from the air as it passes through. 

This dehumidifying process results in higher energy consumption, but you don’t need any Freon inside the dehumidifier.

TL;DR: Refrigerant dehumidifiers have Freon on them. Desiccant dehumidifiers do not, but they are often not used due to their high energy consumption.


Adding Refrigerant To A Dehumidifier

Most refrigerant dehumidifiers can have more refrigerant added to them.

Refrigerant is like the fuel for your cooling coil and if it starts to run out you can  ‘recharge’ the refrigerant to keep it running. 

ACLAB Note:

Unless there is a leak, your dehumidifier refrigerant should last as long as the dehumidifier (5-10 years), so you shouldn’t have to recharge compressor-based dehumidifiers.

When Do You Need To Recharge A Dehumidifier?

You should only need to add refrigerant to your dehumidifier if there’s a leak in the system. If there’s no leak then the gas should stay in the cooling coils and never run out.

If you find your dehumidifier is no longer helping you reach the desired humidity level then it could be because you don’t have enough refrigerant in the cooling coils.

There are 2 main reasons for this leak occurring:

  1. 1
    The dehumidifier is old and corrosion has caused a leak. 
  2. 2
    It hasn’t been maintained well and damage has caused a leak in the dehumidifier. This has happened to me before when I accidentally dropped my portable dehumidifier.

You can restore it to full functionality by adding refrigerant, but you also need to repair the leak.

TL;DR: If Freon has leaked out, you can ask for professional help to recharge it again.


How To Remove Freon From A Dehumidifier

It is possible to remove Freon from a dehumidifier, but it should only be attempted by a professional. I would not recommend trying this unless you have full qualifications and experience. 

Freon is a dangerous greenhouse gas with ozone depletion potential. If it’s released into the air/oxygen supply it can damage the ozone layer and have a severe impact on the environment.

There are strict laws and guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about how Freon refrigerant should be handled and disposed of [2].

If you are no longer using a refrigerant dehumidifier and it does contain Freon then you’ll have to have it removed before you can dispose of the appliance. 

In my area, there are specific sites run by the local government to dispose of the refrigerant, but it varies depending on where you live.

Unless you are a trained professional then you should hire a professional to handle and remove dehumidifiers that contain Freon.

TL;DR: Removing Freon is an important part of disposing it. This is usually handled by the local waste management.

Man in Yellow Hard Hat

Can You Remove Freon From Your Own Dehumidifier?

Technically, it is possible to remove the refrigerant from dehumidifiers that contain Freon but it should only be done by trained professionals.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. 1
    Cut the dehumidifier’s cords.
  2. 2
    Unscrew its plastic covers and slowly pull it off. You’ll find Freon in the condenser placed within the dehumidifier.
  3. 3
    Experts use 6000BTU cooling power recovery systems (similar to an AC unit’s compressors) to extract Freon from the condenser. I would recommend doing the same.
  4. 4
    Attach output and input tubes to the recovery bottles and condenser, respectively.
  5. 5
    As the compressor starts, the Freon shifts from condensers to recovery bottles.
  6. 6
    Subsequently, both these tubes, if needed, can be swapped to shift Freon or refrigerant from recovery bottles to elsewhere.

TL;DR: While there are ways to remove Freon from the dehumidifier, it is best to seek professional help due to the dangers it carries.


How To Add Freon To Your Dehumidifier In 10 Steps

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to add Freon to the dehumidifier:

  1. 1
    Order your Freon recharge kit. This way, your task will become much easier as the kits come with tiny cylinders or gas can containing Freon or R-22 (modern dehumidifiers may need R410A).
  2. 2
    Switch off the dehumidifier and remove the cable from the plug.
  3. 3
    Gather the essential equipment you’ll need to crack it open.
  4. 4
    Unscrew all nuts and bolts from the dehumidifier (Take pictures of where you’ve unscrewed from as it will help reassemble the device).
  5. 5
    Make sure to remove the top or back first.
  6. 6
    After opening, remove the compressor, and you’ll spot the hose.
  7. 7
    Grab the gas can and fasten it securely to the hose.
  8. 8
    Within a few minutes, all gas will be transferred into the compressor.
  9. 9
    Once done, remove the gas can and reassemble.
  10. 10
    Please make sure all the parts are in place before starting it again.

Here are some things to be cautious about when following this process:

  • Wear a mask throughout the procedure
  • If you’re not sure and confident, call a professional technician to do it [3]
  • Many dehumidifiers require charging after years of heavy use. Thus, avoid frequent replugging as it will reduce its durability
how to dispose of dehumidifier

FAQs

How Long Does It Take To Add Freon To A Dehumidifier?

Adding Freon to a dehumidifier that requires refrigerant will typically take under 30 minutes and the gas should transfer in just a few minutes.

Remember, this job should only be done by professionals, and Freon R-22 is generally only used in older dehumidifiers.

How Long Does Freon Generally Last In A Dehumidifier?

Freon should last the entire lifespan of the dehumidifier. The best dehumidifier can last up to 10 years, and only those devices with damage to the cooling coil will need more Freon to be added.

How Much Does It Cost To Add Freon To A Dehumidifier?

It costs between $190 and $550 to add Freon to the dehumidifier, depending on which recharge pack you buy, the size of the dehumidifier, and whether you do it yourself.

It is often cheaper to buy a new dehumidifier, though you need to consider the environmental impact of disposing of your old one as it is considered hazardous waste.

Final Words

Most dehumidifiers used in the US use Freon R22 gas but it is being phased out in favor of R410A gas.

R410A is more effective and has a less harmful effect on the ozone layer but it will take a good few years until we stop having Freon R22 dehumidifiers on the market. 

That being said, if you are in the market for a new dehumidifier I would recommend looking for a modern R410A model. 

Hopefully, this guide has helped to explain the role that Freon plays and why it’s so common in dehumidifiers. Just remember that the Freon within dehumidifiers should be considered hazardous waste and only dealt with by professionals.

References: 

  1. https://www.climate-environmental.co.uk/r22-phase-out/
  2. https://www.epa.gov/section608/stationary-refrigeration-safe-disposal-requirements
  3. https://www.epa.gov/snap/refrigerant-safety
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Josh Mitchell

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Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

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