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How to Auto Empty a Dehumidifier

By Donald Grummett

A dehumidifier is a very important device for those homeowners with a damp basement. Dampness can lead to mold, mildew, and increased incidence of allergies. Unfortunately, a dehumidifier can be a real pain in the backside because you have to keep emptying the water storage bucket. Simply getting it in and out of the machine can be difficult. Getting the bucket to the sink without spilling its contents can sometimes require the balancing abilities of a juggler.

A better method is to add a drain hose to the dehumidifier so the water drains by itself. This eliminates the dreaded trek to dispose of the water.

Drain Connection

Firstly, make sure your dehumidifier has a threaded drain connection. This is a threaded nozzle at the rear of the machine that empties into the water bucket.

dehumidifier hose

Remove the water storage bucket. You should see a threaded nipple connection. A few models have a connection on the water bucket itself. Either allows a drain hose (or a piece of a lawn hose) to be attached to the rear of the machine.

Once a hose is attached the water drains into the hose. The hose can then be directed away from the dehumidifier into a floor drain.

Above the Sink Method

Not every home has a floor drain. Therefore, some consumers install the dehumidifier above a sink to allow for easy draining. This does require the installation of a wall bracket or shelf higher than the sink. The water produced by the dehumidifier is then simply allowed to drain directly into the sink or laundry room standpipe.

The above the sink method works but limits their usage to one area. Also regular maintenance, such as cleaning the filter, becomes difficult. Simply leaving the dehumidifier on the floor is more convenient. Plus it allows you to quickly move it to others rooms, if required.

Drain Hose Method

A better method is to take advantage of the threaded drain connection at the rear of your dehumidifier. With a lawn hose added for draining, the distance between dehumidifier and drain becomes virtually unlimited.

Remember water will always flow downhill. Therefore if the drain point is lower than the drain connection on the dehumidifier, the water will run down the hose.

Throughout this article the term ‘floor drain’ is used. If you have no floor drain then an alternate can be used. Consider a shower stall drain, a toilet, a sink, a sump hole, or a standpipe for a washing machine. Although a floor drain is easiest, any of the other drains work equally well. The fact that they are higher above the floor level simply means the dehumidifier end of the drain hose will have to be raised higher to compensate.

It sounds simple enough, but the dehumidifier may be in one part of the basement and the floor drain another, with 50 feet of lawn hose between them. Finding the correct height for each end is the whole trick. You therefore have to determine their height relative to one another. This in turn will be the secret to eliminate the need to empty the machine.

The simplest way to do all this and make your dehumidifier drain automatically is the following:

  1. Lay a drain (lawn) hose along the floor between a floor drain and the dehumidifier. At the floor drain end insert the hose a few inches into the drain. At the dehumidifier end locate the hose close to where the dehumidifier will be operating.
  1. Lift the dehumidifier end of drain hose up until it’s approximately level with the top of the water storage bucket.
  1. Pour water into the drain hose and have someone advise you if water empties into the floor drain. If ‘yes’ proceed to step number 7.
  1. If water backs out of the hose without flowing into the floor drain the hose end is not yet high enough. Raise the hose a few inches and repeat the process. Continue repeating until water flows out the floor drain end of the hose. When it does make note of how high above the floor level you had to lift the hose. This height is important.
  1. To further refine the proper height add more water to the end of hose while alternately raising and lowering hose. The prefect height is slightly above the point where water backs out of the hose.
  1. Raise the dehumidifier so that its threaded drain connection is above the height determined in step number 4. If this requires the dehumidifier being elevated off the floor do so temporarily, using blocks or supports under the machine. A more permanent structure can be constructed later.
  1. Reconnect the drain hose to the threaded drain hose connection at the rear of the dehumidifier.
  1. To test, pour water into the drain trough pan at the rear of the machine. On most dehumidifiers this is a small plastic trough or pan just above where the drain hose is now connected. If your machine has a rear cover remove it to gain access to the drain trough. Pour water into the drain trough. It should run out the floor drain end of the hose freely. If the trough overflows go back and start over at step number 3.
  1. Reconnect dehumidifier to electricity. Allow it to operate for 24 hours with the drain (lawn) hose connected. If it appears to be operating properly, proceed to final step.
  1. Construct a permanent stand to hold dehumidifier. Run the drain hose along baseboards and secure. Secure drain end of hose into drain.

Your dehumidifier drain is now fully automatic. Every time the dehumidifier cycles off the accumulated moisture will run into the drain trough, down the drain hose, across to the floor drain, and down the drain. No more having to empty cumbersome water storage buckets.

Lastly, you should make note on a calendar to clean or replace the dehumidifier filter every month. This, along with some occasional maintenance, will keep your dehumidifier working efficiently far into the future.

Copyright 2007 by Donald Grummett. All right reserved. Donald Grummett has been in the trade over 30 years as a technician, business owner, and technical trainer. Visit MG Services to learn more invaluable information about your appliances.

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  • Karen R.
    September 25, 2018, 1:30 am
    I have no floor drain, no sink, no wash tub – nothing to drain the dehumidifier into. I am tired of constantly emptying the dehumidifier bucket. So to where do I drain the dehumidifier? Can I drain it into the passive radon pipe?
    • Felicia
      September 25, 2018, 3:35 pm
      Karen, I feel your pain. I’m in a similar situation, but I don’t have a passive radon pipe. When the dehumidifier beeps, I have to go downstairs to drain it.

      Having said that, I don’t think it’s such a good idea to allow the dehumidifier to drain down the radon pipe. I’m not extremely familiar with the passive radon pipe system, but I don’t think you want to compromise its efficiency by inserting a dehumidifier hose. I’d contact someone who has actually installed or is more familiar with the system than I am. I’m sure they’ll give you a better answer than I can.

      Good luck!

      Also, I’d also be interested to know what they say. Your info might be able to help other folks out there who are thinking of using their radon pipe system do drain the dehumidifier.

      Update: I managed to raise the dehumidifier by putting it on a cabinet. From there I was able to attach a hose and have it drain into a sink. The only problem was the expense. Running a dehumidifer 24 hours a day did a number on my electric bill. As such, I disconnected the hose and went back to dumping the storage basket.

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Last Modified: 24 March 2020

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