When it comes to healthy living, we typically do a good job of making our environment comfortable and conducive to our needs. But there are some things we don’t always think of right off hand, and one of those is how humidity can affect us. That’s not just something to consider when you step outside into a hot, humid world so that you can walk to your car or down the street. Humidity can negatively affect you in your home as well, and that’s where a dehumidifier can come into play.
Most people think of creatures of comfort when they consider using a dehumidifier, but the benefits and uses of a dehumidifier go far beyond ‘feeling cozy’ in your home. In fact, there could be plenty of other underlying issues you need to address that a dehumidifier can assist with.
The Problem with Humidity
You may have heard of vaporizers/ ionizer and humidifiers being used to add moisture to a home. If this is deemed necessary, what’s wrong with having a humid environment? First of all, it all depends on the level of humidity in a space. The optimal level is around 50 percent since this is excellent for breathing in that it’s not too dry or too damp. This also feels comfortable. But when that humidity level increases too much, you have other issues arising.
The number one problem with excess moisture in the environment is that it spawns the growth of many of the most common allergens, which can be detrimental to health for anyone but especially bothersome for those with allergies, asthma, and other breathing conditions like COPD. These include dust mites, mold, and mildew, all of which thrive in a damp environment. In order to reduce the growth of these allergens and the overwhelming infiltration into the air, you breathe.
Why is the Space so Humid?
While some of the humidity that plagues your home could have something to do with the climate in which you live, there are other factors involved as well. If you have a lot of appliances that produce moisture – maybe you take long, hot showers and have a dishwasher, washing machine, and others – you could be struggling to keep your environment dry enough.
Worse still, smaller spaces, especially small apartments, tend to hold moisture. Add to that the fact that many apartments and even some older homes may have very poor ventilation in favor of better insulation, and you have a recipe for intensive humidity. This is why you should consider dehumidifier uses and benefits during the summer, rather than the winter.
Signs You Need a Dehumidifier
If you’re not sure if you have a problem with excess humidity in your space, there are some symptoms you can look for, all of which can be cleared up with the use of a dehumidifier.
There is frequently condensation on and around the windows of certain areas – or even throughout – your home.
You find water stains on the walls and the ceiling in your home.
You have rooms with poor ventilation that are more humid than other areas of the home, such as bathrooms without fans or a kitchen.
Related reading:Dehumidifier vs Fan – Which is better?
In areas where humidity is higher, you’ll find small black spots growing on the walls, which are signs of mold and mildew.
Related reading: Can a dehumidifier kill mold?
There is the distinct smell of must, or mildew in your home.
Materials, such as couch covers, feel damp on an average day.
If any of these are a problem in your home, it’s time to consider reducing the amount of moisture in your environment.
What Type of Dehumidifier?
There are two main types of dehumidifiers available – refrigeration type and desiccant. Unless you’re trying to dehumidify a large, industrial space or have a very cold environment in which you plan to run the dehumidifier, you’ll likely want to use the refrigeration type, which is the more common of the two.
This type of dehumidifier uses vents, a fan, and cold coils to cool the air, allowing the moisture to condense and drip into a collection tank before the dry air is then redistributed into the environment. It’s a very effective way to keep humidity levels down, but it doesn’t work in a cold environment since the air is already too cool in these areas.
In that case, the desiccant type of dehumidifier works better. This uses a chemical drying agent, such as silica gel, to absorb the moisture from the ambient air drawn into the machine. Then, the dry air is exhausted back into the living or industrial space.
Dehumidifiers in the Basement
Even if the rest of your home runs with a normal level of humidity, your basement is one of those places where moisture is likely to become a problem. Because it’s underground, there is often a great deal less ventilation in the basement, and you’ll find that it feels a bit sticky year-round. Adding a dehumidifier for your basement can really make a difference, keeping the traditional concern of mold and mildew in your basement from being a problem in your home. This is especially important if:
You and your family spend a lot of time in your basement because it’s a game room, bonus space, or family area.
You have your laundry set up down here and run the washing machine and dryer, which can add a great deal of moisture to space.
You hang your clothes to dry in this space.
You run a hot tub or another water-heavy device in this space.
Additional Benefits of a Dehumidifier
Not all benefits of running a dehumidifier in your home are obvious or instantly apparent, but it’s definitely worth considering the additional advantages you’ll have by adding one if you’re experiencing problems with too much moisture.
Reduce Allergy symptoms
As discussed, your home’s lower level of moisture will make it less conducive to the growth of the most irritating allergens – dust mites, mold, and mildew. A semi-dry environment is far better for the reduction of allergies and symptoms, including:
Itching or watering eyes
Stuffy or runny nose
Sneezing and wheezing, as well as other breathing difficulties
Irritation to skin, including rashes
Dehumidifiers are quiet to run but can add a very small amount of white noise that is often a comfort and a way to aid with better sleep for many people.
Apart from removing the threat of allergens, a dehumidifier by extension also reduces unpleasant smells caused by the buildup of these allergens, including the musty smell of mold and mildew. It can even reduce the instance of a ‘rotting’ smell that can come from having wood in your home affected by the excess humidity.
Your linens will remain drier, which also creates additional benefits that include
- Better smell and longer lasting freshness.
- Less chance of mold or mildew appearing on fabrics in the home
- Line drying clothes faster and more effectively
Even if you don’t suffer from allergies, you’ll find that your skin and respiratory system are less irritated, making it less likely you’ll catch a cold, experience sneezing and coughing, and other such bothersome behavior.
Food Stays Fresh Longer
Have you noticed that your bread, cereal, and other grains don’t seem to last very long? If your bread gets moldy or stale too fast, it could be caused by the excess moisture in the air.
A dehumidifier will make bread, grains, cereals, and other foods stay fresher longer in your kitchen, saving you money as well.
Is your home rather dusty? Running a dehumidifier will reduce some of this, meaning you won’t have to clean as often because there will be far less dust gathering around you. This also helps keep your air cleaner simply by cleaning some of the allergens from the air through the filter in the unit.
Air conditioners and heaters work harder when the air is wetter. Running a dehumidifier uses energy, but the trade-off could be in your favor.
Since it likely will reduce the amount of energy your air conditioner has to put out in order to cool our space by more than the dehumidifier uses, you’ll save a great deal of money on energy costs, as well as extend the life of your air conditioning or furnace. Read more on air conditioners and dehumidifiers here.
You’re investing in your home’s structural efficacy. Excess moisture can actually start to damage the wooden beams and studs that make up your home’s framing, causing the wood to rot and leave your home vulnerable. A dehumidifier can actually save you from costly repairs to the internal structure, as well as parts of your roofing and even some of your aesthetic pieces.
Choosing Your Dehumidifier
When you decide to purchase a dehumidifier to take advantage of these benefits, there are a few things to consider that will increase the usefulness of the device. Take into account that, with the proper choice of dehumidifiers, you can have incredible savings and greater efficiency in your home.
Choose the right size. Depending on how large your space is, you may be able to use a ‘mini’ portable dehumidifier, or you may need a slightly larger portable.
Of course, you have options for whole house dehumidifiers, but these are typically for extremely humid environments rather than for localized dehumidification.
Always purchase an energy efficient model. As with all appliances today, you can find an Energy Star rating, which will use less energy and maintain the same performance so that you don’t waste a lot of power in order to create a comfortable, safe environment.
Perform other regular maintenance and cleaning, your dehumidifier will work more efficiently and last longer without repairs or replacement, all of which saves you a pretty penny.
Related Reading: Uses for dehumidifier water.
Set the humidistat to 50 percent. This is the optimal humidity level for most environments and helps keep you comfortable while also allowing your dehumidifier to remain efficient, not running all the time and wasting energy trying to get the space too dry.
Find a unit with an auto shutoff switch. This will help assure several things:
- Your unit isn’t running with a full water collection tank, so it won’t overflow.
- Your unit isn’t running excessively and making the environment too dry.
- Your dehumidifier doesn’t burn up the engine or the fan motor running until it overheats or the coils freeze.
To go with the above point, get a dehumidifier that has a sensor to determine when the coils are getting frosty so that it will automatically shut off and go into defrost mode until this problem is cleared up.
Also make sure that the unit will automatically restart after it defrosts or when the room reaches too high of a humidity level so that you aren’t tasked with turning it on and off. This is much more efficient and doesn’t take any of your time.
When it comes to your living space, it’s important to do all you can to keep it safe and healthy. That means more than just a child or baby proofing a room or cleaning up and disinfecting against bacteria. You should also pay attention to the ambient atmosphere and how it could be affecting your breathing or that of someone else in your home. Adding a dehumidifier is great for correcting these issues, as well as protecting your home in so many other ways.
When you decide to invest in the benefits of a dehumidifier, keep in mind the different purposes they serve and your personal needs, including the size of the space you need to remove the moisture from, the temperature of that space, and the cost of energy in your area. You can save a great deal of money using a dehumidifier, since you reduce the strain on an air conditioner or furnace, but only if you’re careful about purchasing an efficient unit.
Take care of your home and your family, and learn the ins and outs of a dehumidifier, including the various types and options for installation. And be sure to keep up on maintenance once you have it so that you get the benefits you deserve from your investment.