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How Dehumidifiers Work

A dehumidifier removes excess moisture from the air, thus reducing the humidity rate in any part of your home, like your basement, bathrooms, kitchen or bedrooms.

The water that a dehumidifier collects in the container is actually distilled water, making it perfect for your steam iron or your car battery, but not suitable for human consumption. Dehumidifiers are even great at drying washed clothes indoors.

Basically what they do is use built-in fans that blow the humid air over a refrigeration system resulting in the process of condensation which then drips back into a collection bucket, which will need to be emptied after filling up. Most dehumidifiers have an automatic shut-off once the bucket is full.

Humidity starts getting uncomfortable once it reaches the 60-70% level, so the main object of a Dehumidifier is to bring the humidity levels in the air to a much more comfortable 30-50% level. Below 30% is not recommended as the air will get too dry.

What to look for in a Dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers come in many shapes, sizes, brands and models. The size of the unit should be based on the condition of the area and the size of the room. The most popular sizes are the ones with a capacity of 30 to 50 pints, which actually means that they are capable of removing 30 to 50 pints of water in 24 hours. These medium size units are ideal for most rooms.

Dehumidifiers for Basements

For basements you should seriously consider the larger 65 or 70 pint capacity units because they are usually more energy efficient, since they are faster at removing water from the air and due to the fact that basements are usually the most humid part of your home. For the bathroom or closet, a Mini dehumidifier may be the best bet.

Before buying your unit, first determine the capacity you need. A larger dehumidifier is recommended by most experts because it works faster and therefore more energy efficient. Some dehumidifiers are Energy Star certifiedby the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) when they meet certain energy efficiency criteria, so look for this rating when buying one.

You should also take into account the storage bucket capacity of each unit. The bucket serves as a collector of condensed water and it varies in size from model to model. The smaller the bucket size, the more times you will have to empty it. Most units automatically switch off when the storage bucket fills up.

Most dehumidifier storage buckets also have a place where you can hook up a hose so the collected water can drain straight into a floor drain or pump. This frees you from having to remember to dump out the water once it fills up.

A good idea is to buy a unit with an adjustable humidistat to control the level of humidity in your home. This feature makes your dehumidifier turn on automatically when humidity levels in your home reach a certain point. If this feature is not built in, another option is to purchase a separate hygrometer that will show the humidity level of the air. You can find one at your local hardware store.

Dehumidifiers do create some noise, some more than others. Noise can be annoying if you’re inside the room when the dehumidifier is turned on. Look for a unit with different speed settings; a lower speed should be quieter. It’s not advisable to leave babies or children inside rooms with dehumidifiers switched on.

Bear in mind that dehumidifiers are relatively heavy appliances, weighing anywhere from 30 to 60 lbs, (mid to large capacity sized) so many people will have at least two or three portable dehumidifiers in their home.

I personally have two dehumidifiers in my home. The first one I bought, (a quite noisy General Electric) is 23 years old and still working like a charm. Eight years ago I bought a second GE (a lot less noisy) unit which had to go for repairs last year. I guess the saying “they just don’t make them like they used to” could be applied here.

10 Tips in using Dehumidifiers

  1. Place the dehumidifier away from walls and furniture, so that air can circulate freely around the unit. This will result in better operation of the product.
  2. Close doors and windows to the space or room being dehumidified while the unit is running. This will ensure that the room is dehumidified more efficiently.
  3. When using the dehumidifier in your bedrooms, open closet doors and draws to help dry your clothes.
  4. Place dehumidifier away from sources of dust and dirt, like woodworking equipment, which could clog coils and grills resulting in overheating.
  5. Make sure you observe all manufacturer warnings regarding electrical safety. In particular, never set up water drainage or disposal near electrical circuits or devices. Also make sure the dehumidifier is connected to a properly grounded outlet. Keep drain hoses away from electrical cords and connections.
  6. In case you are planning to use a hose to drain the dehumidifier’s water bucket, make sure the unit is located near enough to the floor drain or sump to avoid the need for a long and unwieldy hose which could create a tripping hazard!
  7. If the air temperature directly around the unit is warmer than in surrounding areas, do not be alarmed, because as a dehumidifier removes moisture from the air, it slightly warms the space around it.
  8. Lots of dehumidifiers come with a simple electrostatic filter in the front grill area. You should replace or clean this filter periodically, like once or twice a year.
  9. If the room temperature where you have your dehumidifier drops below 60º Farenheit, check the units coils for frost or ice build-up. You could have a problem if they are iced up.
  10. Prolong the lifespan of your dehumidifier, by never turning it off and then back on right away. After you turn it off, wait at least 10-15 minutes before turning it on again. This allows the pressure in the refrigeration system to equalize.

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