Too much moisture in the air negatively impacts personal comfort, as humidity worsens health conditions such as allergies and asthma. Plus, high humidity can damage electronics, pianos, cameras, books and clothing. Excess moisture causes mold, dripping pipes, peeling wallpaper, warping wood and blistering paint, as well as musty odors. A dehumidifier is the remedy.
Even if you have home air conditioning, a dehumidifier may still be a necessity. In rooms such as basements and laundry rooms, where dampness is heavier due to natural conditions or where air conditioning may not reach, a dehumidifier will help, especially in reducing musty odors.
A dehumidifier helps maintain an ideal relative humidity level (RH level) in the home. During summer months, a 50% RH is recommended. In winter months, as low as 30% RH is acceptable, especially if condensation is building up on your windows.
Air is fan-forced over coolant-filled coils to remove moisture. Depending on the model, the condensed moisture then drips from the coils into a bucket / basin, or it may be pumped out of the unit. The drier air is expelled back into the room.
Consider these main factors when selecting your dehumidifier:
Follow the instructions for setup in your owner's manual. After properly unpacking the unit and removing all the shipping tape, keeping the bucket in place, you should also check the internal bucket to ensure the float switch is not dislodged (refer to instruction manual).
When you turn the dehumidifier on for the first time, set the RH level to the driest (highest) setting possible to stabilize the room's humidity. Most units have RH settings as low as 30% and as high as 90%. After a couple of cycles, set the unit's automatic humidistat to the setting you desire.
Dehumidifiers vary according to pint removal capacity every 24 hours. The following guide will help you choose the right capacity model for your needs. (Numbers listed are in pints per 24 hours.)
Depending on the unit, your dehumidifier may have:
In very damp or wet conditions, the unit will collect a large amount of water, and you'll need to empty the internal bucket regularly. Most units have a direct drain feature, which allows for continuous operation without emptying the unit's bucket, but it requires a floor-level water drain. If you don’t have access to a floor-level drain and want to avoid regularly emptying an internal bucket, buy a unit with an internal pump feature that can pump water vertically up to a sink.
Energy performance is rated by the amount of water extracted every hour versus the amount of energy consumed to do so. For maximum efficiency, look for an ENERGY STAR® qualified unit.