A dehumidifier provides benefits that include reducing the amount of moisture in the air of indoor spaces to a more comfortable level, helping to prevent the growth of mold and fungus inside the home, and can cut reliance on the air conditioner by making the indoor air feel less muggy.
You might want to consider a dehumidifier if any of these sound like your home:
- Condensation appears on windows and mirrors.
- Insects are found in the home.
- Wood furniture, floors, or other items warp or rot.
- Your skin feels sticky or perspires when indoor air temperatures are normal.
- The house smells musty.
If operating a dehumidifier in the home sounds sensible, where do you go from here? Dehumidifiers are available in many different sizes and methods of installation, so which should you get?
The Fundamentals of How Dehumidifier Work
Dehumidifiers use condensation to remove moisture from the air. The process starts with a fan that draws in air and pushes it across a set of coils that are cooled by the refrigerant. Because warmer air is less dense, it can hold more moisture. When air is cooled, it becomes denser and is no longer able to hold the same amount of moisture. As a result, the warm air moving across the cold coils quickly chills and squeezes out the moisture. This moisture is left on the coils and drips down into a collection tank. Finally, the dry air leaves the system and after enough time the collection tank will fill up and need to be emptied.
The Different Types of Dehumidifier
The ideal range for indoor humidity is between 30-50%. Humidity at this level will help to keep your skin and nasal passages from drying out and will help to prevent mold, bacteria, fungus, and other microorganisms from growing indoors. To achieve this level of humidity, you’ll need to look through several varieties of dehumidifiers to see what fits the needs of your home.
A portable humidifier requires no installation to use (some do have permanent drainage attachments), they can be stored in the closet when having people over, and are generally affordable for the benefits they can provide. The problem with these units is they won’t dehumidify the entire home, the water tank may need to be frequently emptied, and the unit will need thoroughly cleaned each week. Some more advanced units come with optional air filters that can help prevent mold growth, but some don’t, which can allow bacteria to sneak into the system and grow in difficult to reach spots.
Overall, a portable unit is probably ideal for apartments or the basement of the home, but may not provide enough power to reduce humidity level to a comfortable level. If you use a dehumidifier with the option for continuous drainage – installing a hose or pipe that feeds into a sink or permanent drain – you won’t need to manually drain the system, and typically you can disconnect the hose and move the system and it will automatically switch by to tank operation.
A whole house dehumidifier works alongside your heating and cooling system. These systems can run independently of each other, or together to more efficiently control humidity while maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures. You may want to consider this type of dehumidifier if you want something out of the way, that provides quiet operation, and you like the idea of only having to replace a single filter to keep the unit clean.
The primary downside to these systems is they can be expensive, may require professional installation, and may also require a pipe or drain where one isn’t available, which may add to the expense of the system.
The size of the dehumidifiers you should purchase will depend on its intended purpose. If you want to protect items in a small storage closet, a smaller capacity unit may provide a large enough storage tank for the small amount of air in the space to meet your needs. For larger areas where a lot of air circulates, such as a living room or master bedrooms, a larger unit with a bigger storage tank will be able to handle the greater volume of air. Note that larger dehumidifiers will consume more electricity, but may not need to run as often, especially if you live near coastlines or other humid areas.
Think About A Humidifier
Dehumidifiers are great during warmer, humid months, but running them on dry days or during winter can lead to skin, lips and nasal passages drying out. Humidifiers do the opposite of dehumidifiers and add moisture into the air. These systems either heat water to create steam or use a fan to blow dry air across a wet filter. Having both systems on hand is a smart way to keep humidity in the ideal range of 30-50%
If you aren’t sure how much humidity is in the air, you can find digital humidistats for around $10 online. Keep one around the home and switch between your humidifier and dehumidifier when needed.
With the fundamentals out of the way, you should be ready to bring home a dehumidifier and start controlling the humidity in your home!