When to Use a Dehumidifier in Your Home

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Excess moisture in your home's air can lead to mildew, mold and the health problems that often result from these allergens. If mold or mildew are showing up in your home, then it may be time to use a dehumidifier.

When to Use a Dehumidifier in Your Home
(Gabriel Garcia/Demand Media)

A dehumidifier is needed in your home when there is an excess of humidity in the atmosphere. Dehumidifiers work by pulling excess moisture from the air. The moisture, which is then turned to water, is either collected in built-in containers or drained with hoses.

Excess humidity, or moisture, can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Water infiltration into the home, usually as the result of leaks or flooding

  • High humidity levels outside the home, such as in homes located around bodies of water or in hot, humid climates

  • Insufficient ventilation to remove excess moisture from the home

When excess humidity and moisture is a problem in the home, it usually manifests itself in the growth of mold or mildew, or in musty odors.

If you see mildew or mold growing in bathrooms or basements, first try running--or installing--ventilation fans that will help to remove moisture from the air. If the use of ventilation fans does not curb the problem, however, or if mold, mildew and musty odors are occurring in other parts of the house as well, then it may be time to use a dehumidifier.

Gabriel Garcia/Demand Media

If a dehumidifier is needed in your home, then it should be placed in the location where the moisture problem is the greatest, i.e., in the locations where mold, mildew and must odors are a problem. In most homes, this will be in basements or in other rooms where ventilation is poor. If excess moisture is an issue in remote areas of the home, such as a basement and an upstairs bedroom, you will probably need dehumidifiers for both locations.

When using a dehumidifier in a basement, bathroom or other location where running water may be an issue, be sure that it is not located near the water supply in order to avoid electrocution and fire hazards.

Since most dehumidifiers' ventilation fans blow warm air, do not use one near a thermostat.

Most dehumidifiers need at least a 3-foot circumference of open space in order to work properly; check the operation manual for specific instructions.

Gabriel Garcia/Demand Media

A dehumidifier can improve your home's air quality, but only if it is used correctly. Follow these tips to get the most from your dehumidifier:

  • Always read the owner's manual, and follow the instructions.

  • A dehumidifier will NOT operate optimally at temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This is important to be aware of if you are using one in a basement.

  • While all dehumidifiers are outfitted with a water collection container, or drip pan, most can be modified to drain water into a sink, toilet or floor drain by attaching a hose to the unit. The dehumidifier will need to be located above the drain in order to function. If you plan to drain a dehumidifier into a drain, sit the unit on a table or other stable surface above the drain. For best results, follow the operating instructions for using the dehumidifier with a drain hose.

  • Always maintain the dehumidifier's coils and filters according to the operating nstructions.
Gabriel Garcia/Demand Media

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