A dehumidifier is a home appliance that removes moisture from the air. Regular use of a dehumidifier can make the overall air quality in your home healthier by maintaining a steady humidity level and reducing the presence of mold and other allergens.
A dehumidifier can be placed on a carpet or a hard floor. They work best when placed in the center of the room, but at a minimum, most dehumidifiers should be placed at least six inches away from any walls or other pieces of furniture; good air circulation is necessary for the appliance to work properly.
The rest of this article will discuss dehumidifiers in more detail, including how they work, how to use them, how to care for them, and some of the potential health benefits associated with regular use.
What Is a Dehumidifier?
A dehumidifier is a small electrical appliance that works to remove excess humidity from the air. The use of one helps a room or entire building maintain an ideal overall level of humidity: not too moist and not too dry.
A dehumidifier works by drawing warm, moist air into the machine with a fan. Once inside the machine, the air passes through refrigerated metal coils. As the air cools down, it contracts and excess moisture is drawn out, where it condenses on the inside of the coils. This condensation is collected in a storage tank, and the cooler, less humid air is released back into the room.
Standard dehumidifiers do make noise due to the constantly running fan, although they are not as loud as a portable air conditioning unit. Still, their use might not be advisable in rooms where quiet is necessary, such as your home office or your bedroom at night.
How Do You Buy a Dehumidifier?
You can purchase a dehumidifier at any home improvement store or home goods store, or from various online retailers. When shopping for one, you’ll want to consider how large of a space the individual machine can easily dehumidify, or whether it’s intended for a specific area of the house.
Some dehumidifiers, like this Pro Breeze Electric Mini Dehumidifier, are designed to effectively dehumidify a single room. Other dehumidifiers might be intended for larger, damper areas; this hOmeLabs Energy Star Dehumidifier is perfect for basements or the crawl space under your house. Other dehumidifiers can be installed as part of your home’s larger HVAC unit; this Aprilaire 1830 Pro Dehumidifier works to dehumidify your entire house.
For smaller, single-room dehumidifiers, you’ll want to think about how large of a collection tank the machine has, which will determine how often you need to empty out the collected water.
Another important consideration is the amount of electricity needed to operate the dehumidifier since regular use of one will add to your overall home electricity bill. If this is a concern for you, look for dehumidifiers that are certified as Energy Star.
How Do You Use a Dehumidifier?
Always read the specific instruction booklet that comes with your machine before use. In general, though, the first step is figuring out where in the room you want to place your dehumidifier. Ideally, the dehumidifier would be placed in the center of the room, but if that’s not possible, place it at least six inches away from walls or other furniture. It can be placed on either a hard floor or on the carpet.
The dehumidifier should be placed close enough to a grounded electrical outlet to be plugged in directly; do not use an extension cord.
Once plugged in and turned on, you can adjust the settings of the dehumidifier. Most dehumidifiers have a built-in humidistat, which senses the humidity level in the room or house. According to the Mayo Clinic, the ideal humidity level inside your home should be between 30% and 50%.
Your dehumidifier will most likely be able to be set to the humidity level you prefer. Once the machine has been run the first time and removed the excess moisture from the air, it will be able to cycle on and off as needed to maintain your preferred humidity.
Most machines collect the condensed water in a tank, which you will need to periodically empty. Other models, especially ones designed for basements or garages, may have a hose that can be fed directly into a sink or other drain.
How Often to Clean Your Humidifier
Your dehumidifier needs to be cleaned regularly. The water collection tank should be cleaned every 2 weeks or so, more often if you live in a more humid climate. The air filter inside the dehumidifier should be changed every 6 months. The refrigerated coils should also be checked seasonally for dust and built-up ice, and regularly cleaning the coils helps the dehumidifier run more efficiently.
You can watch the entire process in this video:
How Can Dehumidifiers Improve Health?
When the air inside your home is too humid, it makes it easier for common household allergens to survive and flourish. These allergens include dust mites, pollen, and mold spores. Drying out the air in your home reduces these triggers; dust mites, in particular, thrive in homes with a relative humidity above 50%. Using a dehumidifier regularly makes it easier to control these pests.
Prevent Mold From Spreading
Mold and mildew can grow when the humidity level in a house is anywhere between 75% and 95%. Regular use of a dehumidifier will not kill mold spores, but it can help prevent them from spreading.
Reducing the presence of mold, plant pollen, and animal dander reduces the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Keeping the humidity level in your home lower could mean less sneezing, less itchy eyes, and less wheezing.
Alleviate Discomfort for People With Asthma
People with asthma can also benefit from the regular use of a dehumidifier. When the air is too dry, your nose and throat may become drier and more easily irritated. When the air is too humid, there may be more allergens present, which could trigger more asthma attacks. Keeping the humidity level stable and between 30% and 50% can therefore be beneficial for people who suffer from asthma.
Keep Pests at Bay
Certain household pests are also attracted to more humid areas, so using a dehumidifier can help keep those bugs out of your house. Silverfish prefer dark, moist environments of moderate temperature; using a dehumidifier in your basement, laundry room, or crawl spaces can keep silverfish out of these areas.
Cockroaches, centipedes, millipedes, and some species of spiders also prefer to live in a more humid environment. Using a dehumidifier can help keep your home free of these pests as well.
Make Your House More Homey
In addition to all of these benefits, regular use of a dehumidifier simply makes your home feel more cool and comfortable, and the increase in energy use to run the appliance may be offset by needing to use the whole house air conditioner less.
A dehumidifier is a helpful household appliance that can be used in any room and easily placed on either the carpet or a hard flooring. Dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air, which makes your home feel cooler.
Regular use of a dehumidifier can reduce the presence of various household allergens, such as dust and pollen, and may therefore be helpful for people with asthma. In addition, reducing household humidity makes your home less attractive to cockroaches, silverfish, and other indoor insects.
Dehumidifiers are easy to use and can make your house feel more comfortable. They can be set up in any room you want and be placed on any type of flooring. They’re especially nice for people who live in more humid climates, but everyone can see benefits from their use.