If your home is musty or stuffy, or if water condenses on the windows and pipes, it means the humidity levels in your home is too high. Showering, cooking, and using a steamer, dishwasher or washing machine can put moisture in the air, which can cause problems especially if you live in an area where humidity levels are already uncomfortably high. This also promotes the growth of mold, mildew and dust mites, which can cause rot and damage to the structural integrity of your home in the long run.
A dehumidifier is a powerful appliance that can make your living space much healthier. It protects your home against excessive moisture problems by reducing water vapor in the air. It’s a practical and easy solution for making your interior spaces more comfortable.
Purpose of a Dehumidifier
The benefits of dehumidifiers are well-known. It is most helpful for those suffering from asthma or allergies, as allergens such as mold and dust mites thrive in a certain level of humidity. Reducing humidity also eliminates condensation that may damage building materials like wooden beams and walls. Peeling, blistering or cracking paint can indicate high humidity. A dehumidifier also supplements air conditioning. Since dry air is a lot cooler, dehumidifiers help you save money by lessening the work your AC has to do. And when the weather is too cold for AC, a dehumidifier can help dry the air inside.
A dehumidifier must only be used if moisture is a problem. If you’re living in an area that has significant, perennial issues of high humidity, you may want to opt for a whole house dehumidifier that works with your home’s heating and cooling system in reducing humidity in your entire home. But if high humidity is periodic and only exists in some areas in your home like basements, a portable dehumidifier can do the job.
When shopping for a humidifier, consider these things:
1. Indoor temperature and humidity level
Before buying a humidifier, you must take note of the indoor temperature and humidity levels as it will affect the performance of any dehumidifier. The higher the humidity, the more you need to have a high-capacity unit that can handle larger moisture loads. Also, if you want to place your dehumidifier in a colder space like a garage or basement, it can be compromised if you’ll place a refrigerant-based dehumidifier, as this type of humidifier have a harder time condensing moisture at lower temperatures. Also, you need to make sure that a dehumidifier can still operate efficiently at low temperatures, unless the coils may freeze. It’s best to pick a refrigerant-based dehumidifier in high temperatures, and desiccant-based ones on colder environments.
2. Size of space and placement
Dehumidifiers for home use are rated by their pint capacities that correlates to the size of the space. It’s important to choose the right size of humidifier, otherwise, the unit may not remove enough moisture from the air or might waste a lot of energy by working too hard. Measure the square footage of the room you need to dehumidify and have a general idea of the area’s moisture levels. The drying capacity of a dehumidifier can be measured by how many pints of water it can remove from the air in a span of 24 hours.
It’s better to buy a higher capacity dehumidifier than settling for a unit that’s too small, especially if you live in a humid region. A higher capacity dehumidifier can handle spaces that are excessively damp.
The small dehumidifiers usually are 24-ounce or 250 mL units. These are convenient for single bedrooms, bathrooms and closets. A 30-pint dehumidifier works best for small rooms like bedrooms, bathrooms and other areas that approximately receive 30 pints of moisture a day. Fifty-pint dehumidifiers are perfect for medium-sized rooms and bathrooms with showers. Meanwhile, 70-pint dehumidifiers are great for basements, large rooms and areas that are more wet than damp.
3. Water capacity and drainage
All dehumidifiers collect the water they remove from the air and you must consider how you eliminate this water. Dehumidifiers store it in buckets and it must be emptied regularly. When it comes to dehumidifiers, expect to pay a little more for convenience.
Standard dehumidifiers automatically shut off when full. There are dehumidifiers with front-loading buckets, and these are the easiest to empty. You can connect a drain hose to the collection bucket, so you can empty the water into a drain or outdoors. There are dehumidifiers that needs the water to be pumped upward, so you may need to attach a condensate pump attachment (or buy one if it’s not included). Some units come with an internal condensate pumps.
Many modern dehumidifiers come equipped with drain hose attachments, and it’s the best choice if you plan to use a dehumidifier continuously. Having a drain hose attachment eliminates the hassle of emptying the bucket/tub frequently. But if you’re placing it in a space that has no floor drain nearby, you can opt for a model with automatic shutoff.
4. Defrost features
Unless you live in a climate that is tropical or warm all year round, consider a dehumidifier that has an automatic defrost feature. For other dehumidifiers, the heat exchange coils can frost over when indoor temperatures drop below 65 degrees F. It’s best to look for a unit that is certified by Energy Star to 45 to 40 degrees. This is important so your dehumidifier can run efficiently without the risk of coils getting frozen.
5. Other special features
As with other appliances, different dehumidifiers come with different features. It’s worth considering special features that come with different models.
A humidifier that has automated or digital controls for setting and monitoring are always a plus. Built-in hygrometers measure relative humidity and display the numbers, plus an adjustable humidistat allows you to dial a desired humidity level. Humidistats measure the level of surrounding air moisture, and it provides an easy method for monitoring and adjusting the unit’s operation. It’s best to buy a dehumidifier with an integrated humidistat and a hygrometer.
Timers in a dehumidifier allow you to set the unit to a program that meets your specific needs. It provides full control over start and stop times, without needing you to do it manually every time.
- Washable filters
Filters help protect the coils from dust and dirt, and having washable air filters make cleaning any accumulation of particulates easier.
- Quiet operation
Noise can be irritating, especially if a dehumidifier is in or near a bedroom. It’s a good idea to test the noise levels of any dehumidifier first before purchasing it.
You may need to bring your dehumidifier to and fro different rooms, so make sure it comes with casters so it can be easily rolled for moving. Having a long power cord also helps, enabling you to put the unit anywhere you like.
- Energy efficiency
To make sure you get what you pay, choose dehumidifiers that carry the Energy Star label. This can help you save money on utility bills as they use less energy, but runs efficiently.