How to Properly Use a Dehumidifier
Whether your home is experiencing a recurring problem with peeling wallpaper or you are looking for ways to keep allergens at bay, a dehumidifier may be just the thing. Designed to reduce moisture, these appliances are efficient (measured by the amount of water they remove in a 24-hour period) and energy-efficient.
What is a dehumidifier?
A dehumidifier is a device that removes moisture from the air in order to bring it down to an acceptable level. If the air in your home is too damp, causing peeling paint or wallpaper, a musty odor or mildew, a dehumidifier can help.
Most people need some humidity in their homes, but excessive levels can cause discomfort. Dry air may lead to cracked skin and irritated respiratory tracts, while high humidity can create ideal breeding grounds for mould and dust mites, which are linked to allergies and asthma.
A well-chosen dehumidifier can be a great investment, helping you maintain comfortable indoor air conditions and protect your valuable possessions. Dehumidifiers dehumidifier suck moisture out of the air, usually running it over cold coils where it condenses and gets collected in a bucket or directed out of your house via a drainage hose. Some models use refrigerants, which work best in heated rooms, while others are desiccant, working more effectively in cooler conditions.
Most models also have a humidistat, a built-in sensor that reads the relative humidity in the air and controls the amount of water extracted from it. Because moisture expands as it warms up, a dehumidifier with a lower relative humidity setting will extract less water from the air than one with a higher setting. The amount of energy a dehumidifier uses will depend on its size and type, but the most efficient ones will still draw more power than a refrigerator.
How does a dehumidifier work?
Essentially, dehumidifiers pull moisture out of the air by drawing the dampness from fabrics and contents in a room. When the air is warm, it can only hold a certain amount of water molecules. As it cools, the water molecules contract, causing them to collect on surfaces as liquid water. This moisture then drops into a receptacle or, depending on the type of dehumidifier, is pumped away via a drainage hose (usually directed outdoors).
A reputable brand should provide an Energy Star rating that lets you know how efficient the unit is and the amount of water it can remove in a single 24-hour period. You can also find out how large a space the dehumidifier can work in by looking at its capacity, which is usually listed in cubic feet or pints.
Dehumidifiers can help keep your home free of mold and mildew, preventing them from growing. They can also reduce the symptoms of allergies, such as dry itchy eyes and skin. This is because airborne pollen and pet dander are carried by water molecules and tend to build up in humid conditions.
Most dehumidifiers are rectangular suitcase-like appliances that simply need to be placed in a room prone to extra moisture and plugged into a standard electrical outlet. Some have a receptacle for collecting the water it pulls from the air; others can drain directly into a sink or out of your home through a drainage hose.
How do I choose a dehumidifier?
Dehumidifiers are a great tool to have around the house, but it is important that you use them properly. This means ensuring that you have the correct size unit for your space and that it is working correctly. Otherwise, you could experience unwanted side effects like dry nose, skin and eyes.
The first step to choosing a dehumidifier is to determine the scope of your humidity problem. The best way to do this is by using a hygrometer (moisture gauge). This will give you a reading of the moisture in your air. If you notice that the humidity in your home is above 30-50 percent, it is a good idea to use a dehumidifier.
Once you have the scope of your humidity problem, you can then figure out what size dehumidifier you will need. To do this, you will need to know the square footage of your space. This can be easily determined by taking the length and width of your room, or by multiplying the two values together. Remember that when calculating the square footage of your space, you should include the height as well.
Once you have the square footage, you can then refer to our chart below to find the appropriate dehumidifier for your space. This chart will show you how many pints per day the dehumidifier can extract based on your square footage.
How do I maintain a dehumidifier?
The dehumidifier’s bucket, also called the condensate container, should be emptied and cleaned monthly. You can remove the bucket, empty it, wash it with warm water and a small amount of dish detergent (these odor-eliminating tablets are also useful). Rinse and dry the container before returning it to your dehumidifier. The evaporator coils on the back of the unit should be cleaned as well—as should any exposed electronics such as the fan and control panel. These components can collect dust, mold and mildew, but cleaning them helps maintain good air quality.
Make sure to place your dehumidifier on a flat surface and keep it away from obstructions that could obstruct the airflow. It’s also important to avoid short-cycling your dehumidifier, dehumidifier which can cause a buildup of moisture inside the device and potentially result in a tripped circuit breaker or overheating.
Storing your dehumidifier when it’s not in use is relatively easy. Unplug the machine, empty out any water in the reservoir and if your unit has a pump purge, complete it. Then, clean the interior and exterior of the dehumidifier and let it dry before reassembling it. To keep your dehumidifier working its best, it’s also a good idea to replace the filter regularly. Clean, dry filters help ensure that the unit is pulling only the most appropriate amount of humidity from your home.