Dehumidifiers: What Do They Do and What are the Benefits for Your Home?
As a homeowner, you want to keep your house in tip-top condition; not only so that it looks as aesthetically pleasing and is as comfortable as possible, but more importantly, so that it’s safe for you and your loved ones. In order to achieve those goals, maintaining the cleanliness of your home needs to be a top-priority.
While things cleaning the floors, wiping down countertops, dusting, and other routine household chores are obvious parts of household maintenance, there’s another element that many homeowners overlook - maintaining humidity levels. Moisture is a fact of life, but in some locations, it can be particularly problematic; regions that are within close proximity to bodies of water and tropical climates, for example. It can also be an also become an issue as a result of poor air circulation and ventilation, as well as plumbing leaks. Whatever the case may be, high moisture content in a home can be very problematic. Not only can it make conditions inside your home uncomfortable, but even worse, high moisture content can also lead to more serious problems, like mold growth, which can result in cosmetic and structural damage to your house, as well as health issues – particularly for allergy sufferers and for those who have been diagnosed with preexisting respiratory conditions, like asthma and COPD.
If the humidity levels in your home are higher than they should be, you’re probably wondering how to handle the problem. Fortunately, there’s a pretty simple solution. What is it? – A dehumidifier! These handy tools are one of the easiest and most effective ways to manage humidity and reduce the effects that high moisture content can cause. How do dehumidifiers work? What benefits do they provide? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more to determine if investing in one of these appliances would be worth your while.
What is a dehumidifier and how does it work?
If you think back to your science classes in school, you probably recall the water cycle, but just in case you don’t, it involves three steps: evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. In other words, bodies of water evaporate, that evaporated water condenses, and finally, when the air becomes laden with moisture, precipitation (rain, snow, etc.) occurs. While there’s no doubt that you’re aware of how the water cycle works outdoors; however, what you might not realize is that the water cycle also occurs indoors in the air that you and your family are surrounded by and inhale. The term “humidity” is used to describe the measure of water vapor that is in the water. A dehumidifier either removes or reduces that water vapor.
To further explain, a dehumidifier is an appliance that is specifically designed to remove moisture from the air. While some amount of moisture in the air is normal and even necessary, if indoor air becomes over-saturated, it can pose several issues.
This appliance features refrigerated coils and a fan. The fan draws warm air into the appliance, and as it’s fed through the coils, the warm air contracts and condensation is removed. The condensation that’s removed from the remains inside the dehumidifier, and as the droplets of moisture collect, they fall into a storage tank that’s attached to the device. The cooler, drier air that is created by this process is then released back out into the air, making your home feel less humid.
The ideal relative humidity level for indoor air is between 30 and 50 percent, and an effective dehumidifier should be able to bring the relative humidity level in your home somewhere within this recommended percentage rate. A lot of dehumidifiers are equipped with meters that measure the relative humidity of the air in the location where the appliance is situated, and the percentage of the humidity level can be adjusted to the desired level; 45 percent is the recommended relative humidity level for ideal comfort and health.
What are the benefits of a dehumidifier?
If the relative humidity level in your home is higher than 50 percent, a dehumidifier can offer several benefits. Some of the most notable of these benefits include:
- Reduced allergy symptoms. Allergy sufferers are bound to experience an increase in the symptoms they experience when they’re indoor air is oversaturated with moisture. That’s because a lot of allergens that trigger symptoms favor humid environments; mold and mildew spores, dust mites, pet dander, etc. As such, you’re more likely to be exposed to the allergens that trigger the uncomfortable symptoms that are associated with allergies when you’re surrounded by humid conditions, and therefore, a dehumidifier may be able to effectively reduce those allergens, as they lower humidity levels, making the conditions less favorable harboring irritants. If you or someone you love suffers from allergies, a dehumidifier may be able to help improve the indoor air quality in your home and minimize uncomfortable symptoms. It may also be able to prevent the growth of some types of bacteria and viruses, too.
- Reduced pests. Allergens aren’t the only unwelcomed elements that high humidity levels can attract; humidity can also attract pests. Insects, such as spiders, roaches, and termites, tend to be drawn to moist environments; hence why basements, cabinets that house plumbing pipes, attics, and corners in bathrooms are among the most common locations where these pests are found. If your home is frequently inundated with these pests, investing in a dehumidifier may be able to help reduce their presence, as they can lower the humidity content in the air, thereby making your home less hospitable to these critters.
- Reduced risk of mold and mildew growth. It isn’t uncommon to find mold and mildew in locations where humidity levels are high. That’s because these substances need moisture to thrive. Mold and mildew (which is a form of mold) are naturally-occurring funguses, and while in nature, they can be beneficial (the aid in the decomposition of organic matter), when they grow indoors, they can pose serious problems. Not only can they cause cosmetic damage (walls, ceilings, tiles, etc. that are coated with mold and mildew growth aren’t exactly visually appealing), but even more concerning, they can cause structural damage. That’s because the funguses are living organisms and they feed on and weaken the cellulose materials that they grow on, thereby impacting the structural integrity of your home. Also troubling is that mold and mildew spread by releasing spores into the air, and those spores can then be inhaled, which can lead to a variety of health issues; allergic reactions, aggravated preexisting respiratory conditions (COPD, asthma, etc.), and can even lead to the development of respiratory illnesses and other ailments. By investing in a dehumidifier, you can reduce the risk of mold and mildew growth, and thus, you can preserve the cosmetic appeal and structural integrity of your home, as well as reduce the risk of developing adverse health effects associated with exposure to these materials.
- Reduced utility bills. Another potential benefit of a dehumidifier is that it may be able to help reduce your utility expenses. The higher the moisture content in your home’s air, the harder your air conditioning will need to work in order to maintain comfortable conditions. Therefore, because a dehumidifier reduces moisture in the air, it minimizes the demand on your AC, and in turn, will help to lower your utility expenses.
- Improved comfort. Finally, the use of a dehumidifier can help to improve the overall comfort of your home. There’s no denying that high humidity levels are uncomfortable. It makes you feel weighed down, sticky, hot, and sweaty. Since a dehumidifier reduces moisture content in the air, this appliance can help to improve the comfort of your home.
How to tell if you need a dehumidifier
You’re probably wondering how to tell if you need a dehumidifier. Often, the signs that the humidity levels in your home are high are pretty obvious, as you tend to feel that heavy, muggy, sticky feeling that high moisture content in the air creates. Other times, it isn’t so obvious. If you’re experiencing any of the following, it may be a wise idea to invest in one of these appliances.
- Musty odors. If you notice a musty smell in any part of your home, that’s a telltale sign that the humidity levels in your home’s air are high. That musty scent isn’t caused by the moisture itself, but rather by the mold growth that may be growing as a result of high humidity levels. As discussed, mold thrives in moist environments, and the spores that mold releases emit odor-causing compounds; hence the musty-like smell you’re noticing. By investing in a dehumidifier, you can effectively reduce the risk of future mold growth; however, do note a dehumidifier will not eradicate existing mold. In order to do that, the fungus needs to be properly and safely cleaned up. If the mold growth is minimal, you may be able to do the job yourself; however, if it’s extensive, hiring a professional mold remediation company may be a better option, so as to ensure that the job is done properly and more importantly, in order to ensure your safety.
- Wet surfaces. Do you see moisture pooling on any surfaces in your home? Countertops, windows, walls, mirrors, etc.? If so, that’s very likely humidity is to blame. Remember the water cycle? Well, when the air becomes so over-laden with moisture, precipitation in the form of condensation can occur; hence why you’re noticing wetness on surfaces throughout your home.
How to choose the right dehumidifier for your home
Whether in your basement, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, or any other space in your home, a dehumidifier will basically work the same way, no matter where it is located, as the manner in which it removes moisture from the air is the same, no matter where it is located. With that said, however, the choice of dehumidifier for your home can be impacted by the size of the space, as well as the relative humidity level in the room. With that said, in order to help you choose the right dehumidifier for your home, here’s a look at some handy tips to keep in mind.
- Size of the room and capacity of the dehumidifier. First and foremost, you’re going to want to consider the size of the room and the capacity of the dehumidifier. Capacity is important, as it will determine how much moisture the appliance will remove from the air; therefore, in order to determine capacity, the level of moisture in the space is also an important consideration. It goes without saying that the larger and damper the space, the larger the capacity dehumidifier you’ll need. Examples of capacity estimates and room sizes for dehumidifiers include the following:
Moderately damp spaces
- 500 square feet – 10 pint dehumidifier
- 1,500 square feet – 18 pint dehumidifier
- 2.500 square feet – 26 pint dehumidifier
Very damp spaces
- 500 square feet – 12 pint dehumidifier
- 1,500 square feet – 22 pint dehumidifier
- 2,500 square feet – 32 pint dehumidifier
- The temperature. It’s also important to consider the temperature of the space. If the temperatures are cool – below 65 degrees – you might need to invest in a dehumidifier that is outfitted with special features that will prevent the coils from frosting over. Anti-frost sensors shut down the device on a temporary basis to prevent frost from building up on the coils.
Contact a Professional Mold Testing and Inspection Company
If the humidity levels in your home are high, investing in a dehumidifier isn’t all that you should do; you should also consider contacting a professional mold testing company. Because mold thrives in moist conditions and since it can be so damaging and can cause serious health issues, if the moisture content in your home’s air is high, then having a professional mold testing and inspection company perform regular testing is highly recommended, so as to protect your house and your family.
Mold Inspection and Testing is the most trusted mold company in the country. Our licensed, experienced, and certified professionals use the most state-of-the-art equipment and advanced tools and strategies to detect the presence of mold growth on surfaces and in the air. If it is determined that mold growth is present, our professionals will let you know and will make recommendations that you can use to effectively eradicate the problem.