Dehumidifiers can help balance moisture levels within a home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ideal indoor humidity levels fall between 30%-50%. Indoor humidity levels below 20% can cause nasal dryness and problems with household static electricity. However, humidity levels above 60% can cause mold, mildew, and other problems associated with excess moisture. A dehumidifier is an appliance designed to eliminate this excess moisture from rooms. But with various types of dehumidifiers on the market, how do you choose the best one for your household? An overview of important factors
How Does a Dehumidifier Work?
A dehumidifier works by drawing water vapor from the air. However, the exact mechanism by which the dehumidifier removes moisture or water vapor depends on the unit type. Popular types of dehumidifiers include refrigerant dehumidifiers, desiccant dehumidifiers, and whole-home dehumidifiers. Depending on the style of your home, other options may include heat pump dehumidifiers or thermo-electric dehumidifiers. An HVAC professional can evaluate your home and help determine the most effective type of appliance for your individual needs.
A refrigerant dehumidifier is the most conventional types of this appliance. It is also known as a compressor dehumidifier. This type of dehumidifier uses a fan to draw warm air currents into its coils. The warm air contracts or compresses as it passes through the refrigerated coils, causing the moisture to condense. The leftover condensation then falls into a storage tank or a drip pan. After removing this moisture, the dehumidifier then releases drier air back into the room. Refrigerant models work best in very hot and humid environments. The hotter the air, the easier it is to cool large amounts in order to condense and extract moisture.
Desiccant dehumidifiers use a drying substance to absorb moisture from the air. Also known as chemical absorbent dehumidifiers, these appliances typically use silica gel to draw moisture from the room. Desiccant dehumidifiers with rotary technology use a rotating disc, belt, or spinning wheel to draw moisture from the air. Because desiccant dehumidifiers do not need to cool or condense air before dehumidifying it, these appliances work well in colder environments and rooms.
Whole-home dehumidifiers help remove moisture from the entire house. A professional HVAC company usually installs whole-home dehumidifiers directly into your duct system. These appliances often come with control panels and settings you can control with the home thermostat. Whole-home dehumidifiers are highly recommended for people who live in humid or tropical climates where moisture levels tend to remain high all year.
Heat Pump Dehumidifier
Heat pump dehumidifiers can efficiently remove moisture from rooms. Using a fan, the device sends air over internal heat-exchange coils in order to cool it. After collecting the condensed moisture, the heat pump releases treated air back into the room.
Thermo-electric dehumidifiers pull warm and humid air over a thermo-electric module. As the air passes the cold module, As the air passes over this cold module, its moisture condenses. The moisture then drips down into a disposal tank, and the drier air flows back through the room.
What Are the Signs You Need a Dehumidifier?
Many experts recommend installing a dehumidifier to counteract the negative effects of hot and humid weather. But in addition to sticky and uncomfortable weather, there are other signs that you may need to dehumidify the home. These signs include surface condensation, mold spots, musty odors, pest problems, or water stains.
Condensation on windows and surfaces can indicate that there is too much moisture in the room. This condensation can look like beaded water, vapor, or fog. Eventually, the buildup of condensation on windowsills or furniture can rot or damage surfaces. If you have questions about condensation, reach out to an HVAC professional for testing. A technician can use an industrial hydrometer to measure moisture levels in the room. You can then discuss options for the best dehumidifier for this room or space.
Excess humidity can cause perpetual dampness on surfaces. This warm, moist environment creates the perfect breeding ground for mold to grow. Mold can grow near windows, sinks, or around toilets. Since steam rises, bathroom moisture can also cause mold to grow on ceilings or walls. Other possible locations for mold include dark and moist environments like basements and closets.
Musty odors in basements, entrances, or crawlspaces can indicate the presence of mildew. This mildew growth can result from unchecked moisture. An HVAC professional can conduct an inspection to determine the exact source of the mildew or algae and correct the issue.
Pest tend to gravitate toward moist areas. If you find yourself contacting exterminators after a sudden uptick of pest problems, you may also need to check imbalanced moisture levels to get to the root of the issue. A dehumidifier can help eliminate the moist environment and discourage pest breeding.
Higher Energy Bills
High moisture levels can cause your air conditioner to work harder to maintain cool temperatures within the home. Constantly air conditioning cycles can draw more power and result in steeper utility bills. A dehumidifier can remove excess moisture, saving energy usage and also reducing wear and tear on your AC unit.
What Are the Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dehumidifier?
In addition to the type of dehumidifier, there are several additional factors to consider when selecting this appliance for your home. These considerations include the size of the humidifier relative to your rooms, tank capacity, operational features, and smart features that enable ease of use. An HVAC professional can perform an audit of your home to gather the technical data necessary to make your decision.
Choose the right humidifier size requires three considerations: capacity, moisture levels, and room size. Capacity refers to the amount of moisture a unit can remove from the air every 24 hours. The industry measures dehumidifier capacity in liquid pints. Large dehumidifiers generally have a capacity of 45-50 pints. Medium dehumidifiers have a general capacity of 30 pints, and small humidifiers have a capacity of 20-22 pints. Moisture levels refer to the relative dampness of the room. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program categorizes dampness levels as moderately damp, very damp, wet, or extremely wet. You can then pick the right capacity for the right level of dampness depending on the size of your room. For example, you may decide on a medium dehumidifier for a 2,000 square foot room. But if the area is extremely wet, you would need to increase the pint capacity.
Tank capacity is another important consideration. A dehumidifier’s tank collects the moisture it extracts from air currents. Most homeowners want a dehumidifier with a large tank that can hold condensation without making the unit bulkier. Otherwise, some refrigerant or desiccant dehumidifiers also have continuous drainage hoses or internal pumps. This allows them to drain the excess water without worrying about the tank getting full. A drainage hose can also help eliminate problems associated with stagnant water or mold.
Important operational factors include noise levels and energy usage. Ask your HVAC technician about the noise level of dehumidifiers installed in offices or personal rooms. For example, dehumidifiers installed in bedrooms should have sound levels no higher than 40-45 decibels. Likewise, you can ask your HVAC technician about getting an ENERGY STAR-certified dehumidifier that can help use power more efficiently without increasing your utility bill.
Modern dehumidifiers often include smart features that make the appliance easier to control. For instance, your dehumidifier may include an adjustable humidistat lets you set a target relative humidity for the room. Some dehumidifiers include a built-in mini hydrometer with auto shut-off once your room has reached balanced humidity levels. If your humidifier uses a tank, it may also have a full-tank indicator that provides an alert for when it is time to empty the excess water. Finally, some dehumidifiers have smart memory or app support that let you monitor the device from your tablet or smartphone.
Get Help From the Experts Today
A dehumidifier is a must-have appliance for humid environments. However, you do not have to go through the process of selecting a dehumidifier on your own. Comfort All-Stars provides HVAC services and dehumidifier installation for homes in Tampa, FL and surrounding areas. In addition, we also offer indoor air quality (IAQ) evaluation, duct cleaning, heat pump installation, and AC maintenance and repair. Contact Comfort All-Stars today for all of your HVAC needs.