Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Reusing Water from a Dehumidifier

I was VERY disappointed to read that you recommend draining the water into a sink, sump pump, or sewer line. What an extravagant waste of clean, distilled water. This water can be used for watering plants or gardens.  If you have a top loading washing machine, it can be emptied there to wash your clothes.

I live in an area of the state that has had odd/even outdoor water use bans every summer. A few years ago some of my neighbors’ wells went dry after the horrific floods in April 2010.

I hope in the future you will add conservation suggestions to your home remedies when appropriate.

Thank you, Carol

I am with you about water conservation and reuse of captured water. The reason I was so adamant about having the water into a constant drain is while most people have the best of intentions, they neglect emptying the dehumidifier negating the intent of conditioning the room. As a building advocate, I favor the health of the building and its occupants first, while then considering efficiency, conservation, and ease of use. After all, we all use energy to live to our own modern expectations, just some more than others.

But how does a dehumidifier work?
A fan pulls air from the room and crosses over cooled coils. These cooled coils cause the moist air to condense, pulling moisture from the passing air. The condensed droplets of water drop off the coils into the dehumidifier’s reservoir. The air then exhausts back into the room.

The water created is distilled, containing no minerals or bacteria. This water can have a lot of uses, although a lack of minerals makes it poor drinking water. While it is distilled water, the process of dehumidification is not sterile or without traces of metals picked up by the process. If you use the water for anything, you must keep the bucket clean. Also dust, microbes, and other contaminants in the air will collect in and on the machine, ending up in the water.

Your environment dictates how often you need to clean the machine. Clean the bucket and coils with diluted bleach or white vinegar. There also are trace metals, like copper, aluminum and other components, that are in the machine. Lets just say the dehumidifier was not designed to collect clean, distilled water.

If you are diligent emptying the water once a day, or as often as it fills up, the water can be used wherever distilled water can, like:

 Small appliances, like hot water urns or steam irons.
 Washing cars or floors, but be careful about paints and finishes.
 Flush the toilet by pouring water into the bowl, not the tank.
 Presoaking or top loader laundry use. The metals and microorganisms may cause a problem, so be careful. As for best conservation, a front loader uses 1/3 the water of a top loader. The front loader also spins at 1,000 rpm, as opposed to a top-loader’s average 650 rpm, costing more energy to dry your clothes.
 Since there is no dissolved O2 in distilled water, it may not be good for plants. You can run an airstone in the water to give it some oxygen, or mix it with some tap water for oxygen and minerals.

There are even more options for actually drinking the water. Today there are machines making drinking water from humidity in the air. The machines replicate nature’s process, generating ozone to purify the water. The ozone binds with water to eliminate bacteria and other impurities. These machines are great for humidity higher than 30% like basements, and can be connected to a refrigerator for continuous drinking water. They are not dehumidifiers, so they will not run until the room is conditioned, rather their job is to make drinking water. They can supplement your dehumidifier and make great drinking water, at home or in the office.

I get it Carol. My next column will hopefully convince people to never buy bottled water again. The next may be how to capture and use rainwater.

One thought on “Reusing Water from a Dehumidifier

  1. Randy Gibbs

    I am using this in my basement which has a tendency to get moist and dank during the rainy season. This unit works great! I empty the pan once a day or sometimes every other day and it has completely taken out the musty smell. The air is much fresher and the room seems warmer. My electric bill has barely budged so the unit is very energy efficient. The fan seems a little louder than the compressor so the noise is very tolerable. I’d buy another.

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