Assume you’ve been in a room that feels muggy and clammy, and then you begin to show some signs of allergies, such as coughing, sneezing, chest pain, and wheezing. Suddenly you begin to find it difficult to breathe and many funny thoughts begin to rush through your mind. Am I asthmatic? Am I getting sick? I ate peanuts, am I allergic to them? Do you recognize this feeling?
Has this ever happened to you? Do not be afraid, you are not alone in this. This may be a result of an excessive humidity level in the room, and a popular solution to this is the use of a dehumidifier. This post is going to help you decide if this appliance is something you want to invest in.
What Does a Dehumidifier Do?
A dehumidifier is simply an appliance that reduces excess moisture or humidity in an area. They are often used in homes, in areas with little or no ventilation such as a crawl space, basement, or even the bathroom. As opposed to what a humidifier does, a dehumidifier removes excess moisture in a space. It reduces excess mugginess and clamminess in the area and brings the humidity to a percentage of 30-50.
When the relative humidity is high, it allows room for growth of common allergens, which can escalate allergic reactions and respiratory conditions such as asthma. These allergens include pollen, mold, and dust mites. So a dehumidifier mitigates the relative humidity to a level that is safer in regards to these health conditions and limits the growth of these allergens.
Nonetheless, this might seem like a fad until you understand the mechanism behind its operation.
How Does A Dehumidifier Work?
So, you may be wondering how a dehumidifier works. Dehumidifiers work using one of these major mechanisms: refrigeration or absorption/adsorption.
Some dehumidifiers work using the same mechanism as that of a refrigerator or air conditioner, which is by cooling the air to remove excess moisture.
Here, moisture is sucked through a grill and pulled into the appliance by an electric fan. The air is then pulled through freezing pipes (coolants) and then the moisture condenses back into liquid water and drips into a tray-like bucket (which has to be emptied when full). The air, now free of excess moisture, is blown out through another grille at the other side of the dehumidifier.
An example of a dehumidifier that works using this mechanism is the Frigidaire dehumidifier, which according to dehumidifier reviews, is ranked as the best dehumidifier there is.
Not all types of dehumidifiers work using the refrigerator mechanism. Some work using this type of absorption and adsorption. Here, moist air from a room is sucked in through a duct and then passed through a rotating fan where the moisture is absorbed by the fan which is made of water-absorbent materials. Then the dry air is blown back into the room, while the moisture is allowed to drip out through an exhaust pipe.
What They Share
Most modern dehumidifiers are constructed with a meter to measure the relative humidity, and also to set the moisture level to your desired percentage. This makes it easier to monitor when the relative humidity is higher than is needed or lower than what is considered acceptable.
Signs That You Need a Dehumidifier
You may have come across some of the following signs and have been blank about what was happening. If after going through this, you are like, “oh! I relate!” then you need a dehumidifier in your home.
- There is a stubborn damp or wet smell in your home.
- You consistently notice signs of condensation on your windows .
- You notice an increase in the number of pests in your home, like termites, spiders, cockroaches, etc.
- Your clothes smell or feel wet even after they’ve been washed and dried.
- Your clothes in your wardrobe are always cold.
- You or someone in your home frequently suffer from allergies.
- There is a very poor ventilation system in your home.
- Some spaces in your home, such as the basements or crawl space, experience water leakage.
- The air in your bathroom is always muggy and clammy.
- You begin to show signs of allergies such as coughing, sneezing, and wheezing.
- Your housing doesn’t have an exhaust fan.
- Water drips down your walls and causes stains.
- Mold spores often appear in your bathtubs
If you are experiencing any of these signs, a dehumidifier may be the solution for you.
There are Three Main Types of Dehumidifiers Available for Usage
- Refrigerant dehumidifier: Also known as compressor dehumidifiers, these use the same mechanism as refrigerators. As explained above, they draw moist air from the room, drain the moisture, and release cool air. They are better used in rooms with typical room temperatures. They are not suited for rooms with relatively high temperatures. They are cheaper to run and are used mostly in basements. They are a very good example of commercial dehumidifiers. The frigidaire dehumidifier is a perfect example as it is a dehumidifier with a pump.
- Desiccant dehumidifier: Also called chemical absorbent dehumidifiers, these humidifiers are not built with compressors and so, they are generally less noisy. They consist of silica gel which is a hydrophilic material. They absorb water from the air and then blow dry air out. It operates at a lower temperature than the compressor type. They have no moving parts and are just buckets that consist of an absorbent that pulls excess moisture out of the air. They are used for cooler areas as a result and are sometimes referred to as crawl space dehumidifiers.
- Whole-house dehumidifiers: Whole-house dehumidifiers are referred to as the best and easiest way to regulate humidity in your home. Although they cost more and require regular maintenance, they are easy to run and you don’t have to regulate the humidity level yourself. This dehumidifier monitors and adjusts the humidity level automatically.
Pros and Cons of a Dehumidifier
- They help promote a healthier environment and living conditions.
- They limit invading pests such as termites, spiders, and cockroaches.
- They help control some respiratory conditions such as asthma by regulating the mugginess of the air therefore making it easier for the person to breathe.
- They are quite easy to install (especially desiccant dehumidifiers).
- They prevent unpleasant smells in homes. Excess moisture in the air can produce odor. This moisture can also affect clothes and cause them to be damp or deteriorate.
- They help increase the lifespan of furniture. Excess moisture in the air can encourage pest infestation and the growth of molds, which can damage your furniture.
- They prevent the growth of environmental allergens such as mold, which may cause a flare up of symptoms of allergic reactions. When air is too clammy, you may begin to show some signs of an allergic reaction.
- They control and regulate moisture levels.
- They run quietly in your homes and do not interrupt activities.
- They help reduce cases of skin irritation.
- They require less energy consumption as compared to air conditioners.
- They improve the quality of the air in your home.
- They are generally budget-friendly.
- They can be used in any room it is needed for and has those specifically made for different spaces.
- They require regular maintenance.
- Larger models may be less energy efficient (higher energy bill).
- Commercial dehumidifiers are noisy and generate heat at the back of the unit.
- Excessively dry air can be more harmful than helpful.
- Dry air flares up some health conditions like eczema, dry and itchy eyes, and more.
How to Care for Your Dehumidifier
One key thing to guarantee that your dehumidifier lasts longer is proper and regular maintenance. Some maintenance tips that are recommended by most manufacturers are:
Make Sure You Study the Manual
Every dehumidifier comes with a maintenance guide. However, not all dehumidifiers are made using the same mechanism of operation. You cannot use a key meant for a door lock to open a padlock. This is the same thing. Every option has its own guidelines so it is important to familiarize yourself with your specific model.
Ensure that you go through the manual meant for the appliance that you purchased. This should have its own ‘how to care’ guide. Follow the instructions or rules for the required maintenance. This will ensure a longer lifespan for the device and more efficient dehumidifying.
Make Sure Your Dehumidifier is Properly Placed
This should also be mentioned in your manual. Some manuals specifically instruct you on where and how to place the appliance. Some tips on how to place your dehumidifier include:
- Your dehumidifier should be placed on level ground. The surface at which it is placed should also be without obstruction. This will ensure that the appliance is able to take in air easy and release air well.
- The doors and windows of the room where the dehumidifier is meant to function should be closed. Leaving the doors and windows open will overwork the machine, which reduces efficiency.
- The appliance should be placed at least a few inches (advisably 2-6 inches) away from the wall. If the device is too close to the wall it may not work properly (unless the guide says otherwise).
Ensure You Clean the Water Container Regularly
Cleaning (and sometimes washing) the water tank of the appliance regularly will ensure that it does not become a medium for mold and allergen to grow.
Because the appliance is storing water in its water tank, it is possible for mold to grow inside your dehumidifier if it is not properly cleaned. If mold grows in it, the dry air may become contaminated, therefore defeating the purpose of the device. You should wash the water container often with warm water and soap to ensure it is clean and free of harmful substances.
Avoid Short Cycling
This is very important. Never turn off the appliance and then turn it back on immediately. This is called short cycling and it can cause damage to the circuit breaker by causing overheating. After turning it off, allow the appliance to stand for at least five to 10 minutes before turning it back on. This will assure you that the appliance has cooled down a bit before it starts running again.
Monitor Frost Buildup
Most modern dehumidifiers come with some special features like auto defrosting. If yours does not, it is not a problem. You just have to monitor the appliance. Frost buildup occurs when the appliance is made to operate in colder temperatures. It develops on the condenser coils. Make sure you also monitor the coils for signs of ice or frost buildup. If this is the case, you may need to repair the device.
Clean the Panel and Surface of the Appliance Regularly
Sometimes, dust and water droplets might accumulate on the surface of the appliance. When this happens, it will hamper the efficiency of the appliance and also give it a bad appearance.
Wash or Replace the Air Filter Often
The function of the air filter is to collect or remove dust particles and other airborne substances such as allergens. These allergens are harmful to your health. Regular replacement of the air filter will ensure that the dry air that is released via the exhaust grilles is clean and free of harmful airborne substances.
Do Not Keep Flammable Substances Near the Appliance
Never try this. This is a ‘no-no.’ Never keep flammable substances such as gasoline near the appliance.
Replace the Power Cords When Damaged
Do not attempt to use a bad or faulty power cord for a dehumidifier. Once you notice that the power cord is damaged, call for a replacement. If this is not done, it can lead to electrical hazards such as shock and burns, or damage the device.
Clean the Exhaust and Intake Grilles
You must ensure that you clean the intake and exhaust grills to guarantee proper suction and release of air, otherwise, the released air could be infected. Use a vacuum brush to clear the grills regularly. This will improve the performance of the appliance.
Lubricate the Moving Parts
Because the appliance has motor parts (such as the exhaust fan) that experience friction, you have to lubricate them to avoid wear and tear.
Call a repairman to do this for you if you cannot do it yourself.
Regulate the Humidistat
You should set the humidity to an ideal level. The humidistat regulates the humidity level in a room. Setting the level too high or too low can be harmful so take care to set the humidistat to an appropriate level while adjusting it for various external factors.
How to Buy a Dehumidifier
There are certain things to look out for when buying a dehumidifier. These things can guarantee the quality and efficiency of the appliance. These key things are:
Some dehumidifiers are more expensive than the others. Desiccant dehumidifiers generally cost more than the other types. So while choosing the best fit for you, you should make sure it is budget-friendly. Don’t forget to think about maintenance costs.
Size and Weight
The size of the dehumidifier is also necessary. You should have a target size in mind. Do you want a small dehumidifier? Or maybe a 70-pint dehumidifier? Small dehumidifiers are lightweight and very portable, but rarely match the efficiency of larger models.
The power the appliance consumes affects your electricity bill. If your dehumidifier is for a residential area, it is advisable to opt for one that consumes less wattage, like a desiccant dehumidifier. For industrial or commercial purposes, (compressor) dehumidifiers are better.
Size of the Tank
The size of the tank will determine the amount of water the dehumidifier removes and the number of times you will have to empty the tank in a day. A dehumidifier with a small tank will not remove as much water as one with a large tank but will still require that you empty it often.
Amount of Water Removed Per Day
To make a good choice, you should investigate the amount of water that will be drained per 24 hours. This should be measured in liters or pints. You can find this out by going through dehumidifier reviews on online stores.
The space available for it to fit into also determines what size and type to buy. For small spaces like the attic, you will need a crawlspace dehumidifier. For a basement, a refrigerant dehumidifier with a pump is advisable.
Most modern dehumidifiers come with frost sensors, which are a mechanism that shuts down the dehumidifier when frost accumulates inside the machine. This mechanism helps to prevent damage that frost can cause to the unit. It also increases the lifespan of the appliance.
Dehumidifiers have different ways of draining out the excess moisture. Some blow it out through the back of the unit as heat, some allow the water to drain out into a tank, while some have a hose attachment that removes the hot air. Each option carries its own pros and cons.
Range of Humidity it Can Control
Desiccant dehumidifiers are suitable for cooler temperature and humidity. However, this tends to vary by model rather than the type of dehumidifier. Simply research the capabilities of each potential purchase to know what suits your needs.
Modern dehumidifiers are designed with special features such as auto restart, timer, humidistats, washable air filters, control systems, continuous drainage, and more. These features aid operation and maintenance.
Warranty of the Appliance
Another major thing to look out for is the warranty and lifespan of the appliance. Choose a brand that guarantees long-lasting usage.
Where to Buy a Dehumidifier
You can get dehumidifiers at appliance stores close to you. Or you can get them from online stores. Online stores give you the advantage of reading consumer reports, reviews, and testimonials. Also, you will be able to see more detailed features of the appliance on online stores.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:
Do I Need a Dehumidifier?
Having a dehumidifier is not a do-or-die affair. There are certain reasons and situations where it can be helpful and beneficial to you. Most people who buy dehumidifiers suffer from frequent allergies or are trying to sleep better.
How Much Do They Cost?
The price of a dehumidifier depends on the size, capacity, and some other factors. If you find one to be too expensive, there are budget-friendly options available for purchase.
What is the Ideal Relative Humidity?
The ideal relative humidity for space is between the ranges of 30-50 percent. Anything above or below this might cause damage or may have a side effect.
What Size Do I Need?
The size of the dehumidifier you need is dependent on the size of the space you want to dehumidify. Most dehumidifiers will list their capabilities on their packaging so you generally only need to know the square footage of the room you are using it in.
Dehumidifiers are relevant appliances that can make your life easier. They have many valuable effects on our health, especially for allergies. Although it can be very difficult to maintain sometimes, the pros often outweigh the cons.