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Why Do We Need Dehumidifiers?
Dehumidifiers are not your average household appliance. They don't come installed in your home's HVAC system. In fact most homes won't ever need a dehumidifier on a daily basis, but there are times when one is absolutely necessary in order to keep a home from suffering mildew and black mold damage after a flood, a burst pipe, or even in just a particularly damp basement during heavy rain.
This may seem like an unlikely situation for you and your home, but it may be more likely than you think. American home insurers have estimated that the number of water damage claims have rose from 20% of the total yearly claims up to 40% and rising. Too much water in the home causes corrosion, water stains, and sagging drywall, and these are only a few of the many problems it can create. There's also the chance of warping wood structure, peeling wallpaper, and musty odors, the list goes on along with your property investment. The average claim comes to about 14,000 dollars, so if you don't have an adequate amount of insurance you could be paying big repair bills out of your own pocket.
Excess moisture in the air of your home can not only have a negative affect on your house, but it negatively affects household items such as clothing, musical instruments, and valuable books, which can be costly to replace. However with the aid of a dehumidifier, you can help lower the chances of water damage and even reverse some existing damage if it is powerful enough.
What can high levels of humidity do?
High humidity can have a negative affect on the health of your family as well. A damp home can cause upper respiratory infections, asthma, coughs, and sinus issues. The damp also provides the ideal environment for mold, an organism that releases spores that irritate the respiratory track when inhaled. Symptoms from toxic mold can range from inconvenient to deadly. Once mold has taken root in your walls, it is nearly impossible to eradicate completely. If you think you may already have a mold situation, seek professional help immediately. If the moisture is a new problem, getting a dehumidifier can keep mold from ever developing.
When it comes to getting a dehumidifier, making sure that the appliance you choose meets your needs. This will be the difference between a comfortable home and a damp, toxic mold filled space. There are a number of factors to consider when picking a dehumidifier for your home. Hopefully this article can help demystify the dehumidifier purchasing process for you.
What is a dehumidifier?
A dehumidifier is an appliance that removes moisture from the air by drawing in air and running it over a cooled coil. The moisture is collected in the form of condensation that drips off of the cold coils and it is then collected and drained or pumped out of the dehumidifier. The dry air is then reintroduced back into the room. Because the cooling coil must be extremely cold, oftentimes dehumidifiers have a defrosting mechanism to keep them from freezing solid and shutting down.
How does it control the room's humidity?
The three main factors that will affect which dehumidifier you end up choosing:
- The area in square footage you wish to dehumidify
- How you want to get rid of the water collected by the dehumidifier
- How energy efficient you want the unit to be
Dehumidifiers vary in size, and are rated by their capacity to remove water in pints per day. They are also measured by the square footage they can cover. Obviously the wetter the room, the more pints per day you will need extracted. The same idea applies as the rooms get larger. The smallest dehumidifier will produce about 25 liters of water in a 24-hour period. This is acceptable for a damp room that is less than 2000 square feet. If the room is extremely damp or wet you would need to move up a rating, to a unit that can produce 30-40 liters of water a day.
A large, damp room (3,500 feet or more) like a basement would need a higher capacity. 30 liters of water every 24 hours is the minimum for large rooms, and could require a dehumidifier that collects up to 70 liters a day depending on the dampness. Other factors to consider when judging a capacity for your dehumidifier would be:
- Number of doors and windows
When in doubt, it is best to pick a larger size dehumidifier. Deciding on how to dispose of the water may seem like a minor concern, but getting the water out of the house as efficiently as possible is the name of the game and it would be madness to run the dehumidifier only to splash the water it collects everywhere. It defeats the purpose, so make sure you have considered how you will get the water out before turning a dehumidifier on.
Dehumidifiers usually come with a drain bucket or an automatic drainage pump that you can feed directly into a drain or sink. When the bucket is full the dehumidifier will shut off, so if you want to have the unit run continuously then you should get a unit with an automatic drain feature. If you do not have access to a floor drain, make sure the pump in the dehumidifier can pump the water vertically so that you can feed the drainage tube into a sink above floor level.
Energy efficiency is measured by the amount of water removed by the amount of energy required to remove it. The higher the energy star rating, the less power it will require. This is important to know because unlike an air conditioning unit, a dehumidifier is operated 24 hours a day. Picking a dehumidifier that is not energy efficient can really hurt your wallet when the utility bills arrive. For more information and help on how to choose the right dehumidifier for your needs click here.
How do I use a dehumidifier?
Once the dehumidifier is out of the packaging, remove any tape that holds the collection bucket on to the unit. After you have plugged it in, make sure that it has an unrestricted airflow. If the vents sit atop of the dehumidifier than it is ok to push it flush against a wall. If the vents are on the sides of the unit make sure each vent has six inches of clearance to ensure proper air flow.
When the dehumidifier is turned on for the first time, set the relative humidity (or RH) to the lowest possible setting to stabilize the room. After a few days you can adjust the relative humidity to a level you find acceptable, but try to keep it as low as possible for as long as possible to make sure the room is thoroughly dry. During the winter, your relative humidity can be as low as 30 percent, but during the summer months the lowest recommended relative humidity is 50 percent.
Be sure to collect the water diligently. If the collection bucket is full the dehumidifier will shut off. To prevent having to constantly empty the collection bucket you can attach the drainage tube to a sink or floor drain. Even if you go with the automatic drain method it is sure to check on the dehumidifier every few hours in order to make sure that the drain is working properly and that the coil has not frozen over. For more information on how dehumidifiers work click here.
What safety measures should I follow when using a dehumidifier?
Because the dehumidifier is an electrical device that collects water, it is extremely important that you unplug the dehumidifier before emptying the water collection bucket. When you plug your unit in, use a grounded outlet (three prong). Don't ever break of the third grounding prong to use a two-prong outlet. This can lead to electrocution.
Clean the air filter when the filter light turns on to prevent fires and to make sure that the dehumidifier runs efficiently. To clean the filter, first turn off the unit and then detach the filter. You can use a vacuum with a hose attachment and gently remove the dust from the filter before reattaching it to the dehumidifier.
How much is my dehumidifier going to cost?
Dehumidifiers can range in price anywhere from $160 to over $2,000 US dollars. The variation in price is due to:
- Water capacity of the dehumidifier (pints per day)
- The size of the room it can cover
- Whether or not it has a vertical pump
- Whether or not it has a built in digital humistat (a control that allows you to choose the level of humidity in the room)
Consumer dehumidifiers can have a water collection capacity anywhere between a modest 30 pints every 24 hours to a gargantuan 235 pints in a single day. The bigger the moisture collecting capacity the more expensive the unit will be. Some dehumidifiers are designed to dehumidify entire homes and while this is more cost efficient than having multiple dehumidifiers running in a single dwelling, a whole house humidifier is an extremely high-end appliance purchase. It can cost more if it is portable or has an automatic defrost feature as well.
When considering the price of a dehumidifier, consider what the water damage repair might cost if the dehumidifier you purchase doesn't meet your needs adequately. The average 14,000 dollar water damage repair bill is far more expensive than even the priciest dehumidifier appliance. Battling water damage is one of the most expensive and insidious home repair projects. Fortunately for homeowners, a high power dehumidifier is the solution that can save them from the heartache of having to deal with the worst of water damage.
Here are some of the key features of our two top selling dehumidifiers.
- Compact unit that fits easily into small spaces
- Lightweight and extremely portable
- Perfect for RV's and Boat trips
- Almost silent operation
- Removes 25 pints of moisture daily
- Continuous drainage option
- Washable and reusable air filters
- Easy operation with control knob and LED display
- 4 Star Amazon Rating
- Portable, complete with casters
- Continuous dehumidifying option
- Environmentally safe with a R410A refrigerant
- Almost silent operation
- Removes 65 pints per day
- Continuous drainage option
- Washable Air Filters
- Full bucket indicator and auto shut off
- 3.5 Star Amazon Rating