I rely on dehumidifiers to manage the humidity in my home so I tend to upgrade to newer models every 3-5 years. It’s always easy to buy a new dehumidifier, but getting rid of the old one isn’t as simple.
In my area, there are lots of rules and regulations to follow and If you don’t dispose of your dehumidifier properly you can be fined. I’ve disposed of, and recycled, a lot of dehumidifiers over the years and I now know the best ways to go about doing it. In this guide, I’ll share my experience and explain:
- Why dehumidifiers need to be disposed of in a certain way
- How to safely dispose of your dehumidifier if it’s broken
- How you can potentially earn some rewards for recycling a working one.
Why Dehumidifiers Need To Be Properly Disposed Of
I consider myself to be quite environmentally conscious and I recycle wherever possible. However, whole dehumidifiers cannot be recycled in the usual way and they can’t be thrown out with regular trash. This is because they contain refrigerant and other potentially hazardous materials, and if they are not disposed of appropriately then they can have a negative impact environmental impact.
The scrap metal or plastic around the dehumidifier can just be disposed of normally. Similarly, the copper scrap metal in the coils can be recycled and it’s a potentially valuable material. The issue is with the refrigerant and the circuit boards.
Are Refrigerants Potentially Dangerous?
Refrigerants, such as Freon and R-22, can disperse in air and like any gas, they rise. Eventually, they come into contact with the ozone layer and can actually break down UV-protectant ozone in the atmosphere . If the ozone layer is damaged it can lead to global warming and have a severe impact on the environment around the world.
While the use of the newer R-410A—a refrigerant that is safe for the ozone layer—is becoming increasingly prevalent, this chemical is still a greenhouse gas and a biohazard/poison .
Other Dehumidifier Components Which Can Be Dangerous
The printed circuit board materials behind the dehumidifier control panel contain some traces of scrap metal which can be used again, but also a mix of toxic waste materials. If these are left to degrade in old appliances then they can damage the environment and harm local wildlife. They should be disposed of in a similarly separate and careful manner.
Rules And Regulations For Safely Disposing Of Dehumidifiers
The disposal of dehumidifiers is heavily regulated because of the refrigerant within them. Every state, city, and county has different rules, but the federal Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) regulations are a national baseline. These federal regulations state:
- Refrigerants must never go into landfills
- Only specially licensed personnel should recover refrigerant from a dehumidifier.
Penalties can be brought against you by the Environmental Protection Agency if you break local and national rules about the disposal of dehumidifiers (and other old appliances) and in my area that usually means a hefty fine. If you want to be sure you get this right, the EPA offers advice and information about disposing of refrigerant-containing appliances .
Ways to Dispose of Your Old Dehumidifier (Where to Recycle Working Dehumidifiers)
Private Sale or Donation
The most effective way to recycle a functional dehumidifier is to directly give, sell, or donate it. Where to recycle your dehumidifier depends on your location and intentions:
If you donate the unit to an official charitable organization, like the Salvation Army, and keep a record of the donation, it will be tax-deductible. I’ve done this before to shave a few hundred dollars of tax from the annual bill.
You can also turn your working dehumidifier into cash by selling it—using a classified ad, social media ad, or just word of mouth. You may also be able to attend a market that has scrap metal and appliances on sale. I would recommend finding and posting in local Facebook groups if you want to sell a working dehumidifier quickly.
You could just give the dehumidifier to someone who seems like they could use it, too.
Bounty, Credit, Reward, Rebate, or Exchange Programs
Sellers, manufacturers, waste disposal services, and other businesses sometimes have programs that allow you to get cashback (bounty, voucher, discount, rebate, or reward) in a similar way to when you sell scrap metal. Retailers sometimes give credit that can be used for another purchase, or you might be able to exchange your old appliances for a new one at a reduced cost (partial exchange). If you are planning to replace your unit then I would recommend reaching out to retailers because you can often get a decent discount on your new model by trading yours in.
Appliance and Hardware Stores
Local stores can make use of the scrap metal and other components in your old dehumidifier, and in some cases, they’ll just sell them again. These could be small locally owned stores or franchises of large corporate retailers. This is a great way to support local businesses while getting rid of a waste item, but in general, larger businesses are more likely to have a recycling program for working dehumidifiers.
Always check the business website or contact to find out whether they have takeback or reward programs for old appliances. In my area there are only a few stores which offer this service, but it’s a quick and easy way to get rid of old dehumidifiers.
Some municipal centers and utilities have various forms of a bounty recycling program, in which you can get some money or other rewards in return for your old scrap metal, appliances, or just anything you don’t need!
Unfortunately, not all public recycling centers or utilities have these bounty programs and they don’t always take dehumidifiers, so you’ll have to check.
Plumbers or HVAC Service Technicians
Some plumbers or HVAC servicers have a recycling program for functional dehumidifiers, but—as with the entities listed above—always check first.
Local Waste Disposal Services
The website for the municipal waste service should clearly indicate whether/where they accept dehumidifiers. In some cases, they even offer curbside collection for your waste item. They won’t pay you for the scrap metal or any other components, but they will dispose of it safely for you.
If there are no local waste disposal services then you’ll need to consider looking into a local landfill or a private waste disposal service.
Many municipal landfills accept dehumidifiers and similar appliances; but, per EPA guidelines, they must consider them hazardous waste and dispose of them separately from regular solid waste/trash. This can sometimes involve separating out the scrap metal and working components from the refrigerant.
You might not get any reward at a local landfill, but they will allow you to get rid of your dehumidifier in an environmentally responsible way.
Private Waste Disposal Services
Private disposal businesses do not necessarily offer more services than public ones; in fact, they are often more specialized and offer fewer free services. You should check the company website or contact the private service to be sure they work with dehumidifiers and to find out how much you would have to pay.
How to Dispose of a Broken & Non-Working Dehumidifier
If your dehumidifier isn’t working then you can dispose of it in one of 3 ways:
- Use a local pick-up service or recycling program for small appliances
- Use the national EPA responsible recycling program
- Go to the county landfill and ask the staff who work there
Local Pick Up Service
Some localities have a regular free curbside collection to take and recycle appliances. Alternatively, some will remove/recover refrigerant from an appliance, so you can proceed to dispose of the scrap metal and plastic with the regular trash. In many localities, pickup or refrigerant removal is only on certain days and for a fee.
In areas with very extensive recycling services, most of the dehumidifier components are recycled or reclaimed in some way, but, unfortunately, the plastic almost always has to just go into the landfill.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s National Recycling Program
The EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program operates nationwide with the goal of protecting the ozone layer from any harmful greenhouse has which can be released from old appliances. You can use government websites or the EPA website to find where you can dispose of a dehumidifier near you .
Going To Your Local Landfill
In rural areas, the best way to dispose of a broken dehumidifier is to bring it to the county landfill and follow the staff’s directions. There will be special instructions for the refrigerant and scrap metal may be recycled, but the plastic will probably just go into a landfill.
Where Can I Recycle a Dehumidifier Near Me?
Some businesses will charge to pick up your old unit and you probably won’t make any money this way. If your dehumidifier isn’t working then they may use the scrap metal and some other components again, but the whole unit probably won’t be repaired or used again.
Keep in mind that getting a broken or undesirable appliance out of your home—and disposing of it responsibly—is worth something. Therefore, do not feel that you have lost if you cannot find a way to get anything back for your recycled dehumidifier.
How Do Dehumidifiers Get Recycled in Your Location?
- In New York: NY State has made appliance recycling universally easy. Free pickup and refrigerant removal are common. Also prevalent are takeback programs by retailers and manufacturers; these often include bounties and rewards to make recycling appliances at least cost-neutral, if not profitable, to the consumer.
- In Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania supports a variety of corporate trade-in, private recycling, and public utilities recycling programs—all at low- or no-cost and often with free pickup. The value of recycling is genuinely reflected in Pennsylvania law—but as with other states, these programs tend to be both stronger and more favorable to the consumer in densely populated areas.
- In Wisconsin: Free appliance pickup is not common in Wisconsin. However, the state strictly observes EPA guidelines. The consumer must seek out retailer recycling programs, private waste services, or public drop-off or pickup options for appliances (only available in some localities). Wisconsin residents are more likely to have to pay a little to recycle a dehumidifier.
- In California: California strictly observes EPA guidelines. However, as in other states, densely populated areas often have more recycling services by municipal utilities, sometimes including free pickup on certain days. Ultimately, California residents often have to seek out retailer bounty programs or exchange programs to recycle their dehumidifiers.
- In Virginia: Virginia is comparable to other states in recycling policy and options. Virginians have benefited from the Dominion Energy recycle reward program , which recycles the whole appliance to the greatest extent possible and offers a small cash rebate, potentially reducing the upfront cost of a new, more energy-efficient dehumidifier.
Do dehumidifiers have Freon in them?
Yes! All dehumidifiers have some sort of refrigerant. Freon is such a well-known trademark that many people use the name to refer to refrigerants in general. However, new dehumidifier models almost always have newer refrigerants, such as R-22 or R410A; while considered safer than Freon, these newer refrigerants still must be treated with similar caution.
How many years do dehumidifiers last?
Dehumidifiers last 5 to 10 years on average. Some of the most affordable, small appliances, do not last more than a couple of years but high-quality (usually more expensive) models can remain functional for a decade with sensible use and proper maintenance.
When should you throw out a dehumidifier?
You should throw out your dehumidifier if it’s is no longer working to reduce the humidity in your home, or if it’s malfunctioning. You can try to have them repaired, however for cheap units that’s not always an option.
Can a dirty or malfunctioning dehumidifier make you sick or otherwise cause damage?
No, a malfunctioning dehumidifier won’t make you sick. However, allowing humidity levels to go up could promote mold growth, rotting, and disintegration of household possessions—as well as allergies and discomfort to inhabitants.
I tend to replace my dehumidifier before it stops working completely so I can either sell it or trade it in to get a discount on a newer model. If you are planning to replace your dehumidifier then I’d recommend doing the same and reaching out to local businesses or organizations that offer these services.
If your dehumidifier isn’t working you should check for local pick-up services. You won’t make any money, but the dehumidifier will be disposed of safely and no refrigerant will be released.
Hopefully, this article has explained why it’s important to dispose of your dehumidifier safely, and shown you some of the best options in your area.