Don't Sweat High Humidity - A Guide to How Dehumidifiers Work

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You may not be able to accurately explain it, but chances are you've certainly felt excessive humidity at some point in your life. When humidity levels are high, the air feels heavy, and it almost feels like you can swim through it if you wanted to.

In areas of high temperatures with high humidity levels, it can feel like you're wearing a sweater even if you're not even wearing a shirt. This heavy and soggy feeling is due to the high level of moisture currently in the air - or the high level of humidity.  

What is Humidity?

The air can hold a fixed amount of water vapor depending on its temperature. The ratio of actual water vapor in the air compared to the amount it can hold is called relative humidity. Relative humidity is often what you mean when talking about the level of humidity in the air. Most people don't really care about the reason for heightened humidity levels, but are more concerned with its effects.

Excessive humidity does more than just make you feel uncomfortable and make your hair frizzy. It can also cause the following:

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  • Makes you feel sick to your stomach, especially when combined with high temperatures
  • Disrupts your body's ability to cool itself, which can lead to various health problems,even heat stroke
  • Triggers asthma and allergy symptoms
  • Makes rooms feel stuffy and overcrowded regardless of how many people are actually in them
  • Places can start to smell musty
  • Can affect the structural integrity of your home, and can lead to an increase in mold and dust mites
  • Attracts unwanted pests, including various bugs and centipedes

Dehumidifiers are the perfect solution if you're suffering from unwanted or excessive humidity in your home or office.

Weather.com provides a handy Indoor Humidity Meter that can help you determine what the level of humidity is in your home based on where you live. Just scroll to the bottom of the page and enter you city or US zipcode.

A humidity level below 30% is too dry, while a level above 50% is too high.

What is a Dehumidifier?

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Dehumidifiers are simple appliances that essentially remove excessive moisture and humidity in the air. Each unit is comprised of the same basic components:

  • A fan compressor that can pull in air as well as distribute a cooling agent over the units coils
  • Cooling coils to cool the air, thereby removing moisture
  • A reheater to reheat air returning to your home
  • Some type of reservoir - usually a plastic bucket - to collect moisture pulled from the air

While some more modern dehumidifiers have different variations of these components, they still work to the same end - removing excessive moisture from the air. Some additional components that your dehumidifier may have include:

  • A hose hookup for the reservoir
  • A humidistat to read the current humidity level in the air
  • A built-in condensate pump to pump water from the unit

How do Dehumidifiers Work?

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While some units have different features and effects, all dehumidifiers work in the same basic manner. In short, they pull moisture from the air in your room, lowering humidity levels and making your home safer and more pleasant. The process works as follows:

  • A fan in the unit pulls in air from the surrounding area, which typically has high moisture levels
  • When air passes through the dehumidifier, it touches the cooling coils, which in turn pull moisture from the air by lowering the temperature
  • This de-moisturized air is then reheated, which then redistributes it into the room - this time without all the moisture
  • The unit collects the moisture it pulls from the air in a reservoir

Many models come equipped with a humidistat, which can detect the level of humidity in the room. This allows you to program the dehumidifier to run until the air hits a certain moisture level and then automatically shut off. The only other thing to worry about is removing water from the reservoir.

Typically, the unit will come with a plastic bucket - or something of a similar nature - that will collect moisture as it is pulled from the air by the dehumidifier. Some units will also come equipped with a hose hookup. These units allow you to run a hose from the dehumidifier directly to a water drain, ensuring that you never have to worry about emptying the collected moisture. Most models also have an auto shut-off system that will detect the water level in the reservoir and shut the process down before it overflows.

Take Care of Your Moisture Problem Before It's Too Late
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As mentioned earlier having too much moisture can be bad for your health and for your home. If you watch television shows about purchasing homes like Flip That House on TLC you'll know that hearing the word moisture is a big red flag! That's because where there is moisture there is most always mold and it can be extremely difficult to impossible to get rid of.

There are endless horror stories about people purchasing older homes and becoming extremely sick not knowing why. Then months later they find out that the source of their illnesses has been mold all along. The only sure solution is to literally replace all the walls, ceilings and floors because if you don't remove it all it will just continue to spread. You might as well build a new home for what you'll pay in repair costs.

Prevent moisture problems before they start. You can find more helpful tips on mold prevention at MayoClinic.com today!

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