Ever heard the expression ‘It is not the humidity, it is the heat’? We say this since humidity; can increase the temperatures of an already hot day to unbearable levels. Regardless of whether you are already aware of what humidity is, a refresher can assist you in understanding why controlling your home’s humidity using a dehumidifier is one of the most significant ways of maintaining a comfortable and healthy living space. Here’s all that you should know about how dehumidifiers work and how humidity influences your everyday.
In this Article
- What is Humidity?
- How Dehumidifiers Work
- When Should I Use a Dehumidifier?
- Benefits of a Dehumidifier
- Keeping your Home Free From Damp and Mold
- Our Tips on Using Your Dehumidifier
What is Humidity?
We don’t see it occurring, yet under practically all ordinary climatic conditions, a given volume of water will evaporate and condenses in a regular cycle. When water evaporates, it rises and scatters into the atmosphere as water vapor.
Humidity is the measure of water vapor in the atmosphere. The more water evaporates in a given place, the more water vapor ascends into the air, and the higher the humidity of that place is. Hot areas are generally more humid than colder areas since heat makes water evaporate quickly.
While it is mostly experienced in proximity to water bodies, humidity is everywhere, and you have most likely experienced it also. It could be foggy glasses, moldy walls, or clothes with a musty odor. Humidity may make your home smelling musty and feeling stuffy. High humidity causes dampness, which harbors dust mites that can cause illnesses such as asthma. Dehumidifiers are devices that can remove moisture, dust, and dirt from the air. So how do dehumidifiers work?
How Dehumidifiers Work
A dehumidifier is a budget-friendly, convenient, and portable way of ensuring a comfortable and healthy atmosphere for both household and commercial setup. A dehumidifier regulates your home’s humidity by reducing the air moisture, therefore making it inhospitable for molds, dust mites, and other allergenic organisms.
But how does such a device work? What mechanism permits the dehumidifier to take moisture in a gas state from the air and expel it as liquid water?
Two essential techniques enable dehumidifiers to expel moisture from the air; for this article, we will look at both.
Refrigerant (or Compressor) Dehumidifiers
Many dehumidifiers use a Freon, also referred to as refrigerant, to suck moisture out of the air in a room. It is said that these types of dehumidifiers work best in environments that have high humidity and temperatures; for this reason, they are the most popular type of dehumidifiers in the country.
This process involves four components found inside the dehumidifier.
- Fan Compressor – the fan compressor cools the coils by compressing and expanding them.
- Reheater – the cooling process generates heat, and the reheater captures and collects this heat.
- Compressor cooling coils – these are the coils that harbor the Freon.
- Reservoir – the reservoir is a container that stores the moisture that is sucked from the air.
The fan is designed in a way that enables it to suck air into the dehumidifier. As humid `air enters the dehumidifier, it gets directed to the cooling coils. The moisture in the air instantly condenses as it comes to contact with the cold coils. The droplets formed drips to a bucket (reservoir) in the dehumidifier.
This is similar to how moisture in the air inside a car condenses on the windshield on a rainy day. The reheater then restores the dehumidified air to room temperatures and is pumped back to the room. The float switch fitted in the reservoir turns the fan off when the bucket is full. It also triggers an indicator light that signals that the bucket needs to be emptied.
Not all dehumidifiers work by refrigeration. Some work by using adsorbent materials to suck water from the air. After the material extracts water from the air, it is heated, and water drips to the tank at the bottom of the machine. These kinds of dehumidifiers are known as Desiccant Dehumidifiers.
They work best in areas with lower temperatures – the type of localities you might expect your conservatory, garage, or an unheated basement that’s no warmer than 10 degrees. It is alleged that descant dehumidifiers use more energy than refrigerant dehumidifiers since they use heat to warm the absorption material.
Most dehumidifiers also have a humidistat, which enables you to set your ideal degree of relative humidity. A humidistat has two sections: a relay amplifier and a sensing element. The sensing element incorporates two other metal transmitters, and changes in relative humidity will cause electrical resistance between those conduits. The relay amplifier gauges this resistance and sends a sign to switch the dehumidifier on or off. These essential parts add up to a machine that makes your home feel a lot better.
When Should I Use a Dehumidifier?
It seems quite obvious to use a dehumidifier when your room has high humidity levels, but there is more to it. We measure humidity in relative humidity(RH); it is a function of how much moisture is in the air, and meteorologists use it to predict rain patterns. Inside the house, RH should be between 30 to 60 percent. Well, not everyone has a hygrometer to determine actual RH, so what other ways can you detect excess humidity in your home? Here are some ways to detect excess moisture.
- If the room has a “wet dog” smell, a musty odor is the first sign you need a dehumidifier immediately. A stuffy smell can also indicate the presence of molds. This means besides buying a dehumidifier machine, you need additional steps to get rid of the molds.
- Squeaky sounds and warped edges on laminated floors that were previously fine also point to excess humidity slowly destroying your home.
- Bubbles forming underneath the wall paint or wallpapers
- Wooden frames and surfaces are beginning to rot
- Too often, your window panes are full of moisture due to condensation. You can also run a test inside your home by placing ice cubes on glass and checking if melted water condenses on the outside of the glass. If it does, then you have moisture issues.
Benefits of a Dehumidifier
Creating and maintain a healthy living environment is of utmost importance. There are several reasons why dehumidifiers may be of the essence. First, too much moisture in the air tends to make living spaces warmer than usual, creating conducive environments for dust mites and mold, which produces spores and other toxins that may be harmful. A damp and stuffy atmosphere worsens the conditions of people with illnesses such as asthma, heart conditions, arthritis, and allergies.
Besides, high humidity can also destroy furniture and cause metal appliances to rust, which reduces their quality and durability. People living in high humid areas result in extreme measures such as moving to drier places. In fact, there are more convenient solutions, such as installing a dehumidifier in their living spaces.
Read our in-depth article on the benefits of a dehumidifier.
Keeping Your Home Free from Damp and Mold
It would be best if you considered getting a dehumidifier immediately you notice tell-tale signs of condensation: paint peeling off, damp patches, or moisture on windows. However, you can take the following steps before it gets to the dehumidifier stage.
Steps Against Condensation
- Wipe windows every morning. Wring out the piece of cloth used to wipe the windows rather than drying it on a radiator.
- Always wipe the wet floor, walls, and mirrors in your bathroom after use.
- Open a window while taking a shower. You can also use an extractor fan for the same.
- Dry wet clothes near an open window or outside, if possible
Steps Against Mold
- First, you need to kill the mold that’s already in your home.
- Wipe down window panes and walls with fungicidal treated water. Make sure that the fungicidal carries an approval number from a Health and Safety Executive.
- Dry clean all moldy clothes and shampoo all rugs and carpets.
- After treatment, when wallpapering, make sure to use a paste with fungicidal treatment to prevent future mold growth.
- If the problem is not severe, it should not reappear. However, the only permanent way of preventing mold is to eliminate dampness.
Our Tips on Using Your Dehumidifier
It is a good idea to vacuum your space before turning on your dehumidifier. This helps to prevent the spread of dust particles that may clog the machine or trigger allergies. If you have allergies, you should consider purchasing a dehumidifier that is fitted with a dust filter.
It would be best to position the dehumidifier in the right place; otherwise, you will not get the most out of it. Make sure that your dehumidifier is placed away from furniture, curtains, and walls. Also, ensure that windows and doors are closed while the dehumidifier is in use. As such, it will be fast and efficient in dehumidifying the air inside the room.
3. Relative Humidity Settings
Now that you have vacuumed the room and set the machine centrally for efficiency, it’s time to turn it on, so what range of relative humidity should you target? A relative humidity range of 30% to 50% is within the recommended levels. However, be careful using your dehumidifier to protect valuable items such as classic cars, guitars, and collectibles – consult a specialist on specific levels.
4. Empty The Reservoir
Most modern dehumidifiers have a float switch that automatically turns the fan off when the bucket (reservoir) is full. This switch also turns on a signaling light or alarm beep that will alert you that it is time to empty the bucket.
The bucket should get emptied for a dehumidifier used in multiple rooms before moving the machine to another room. This will ensure that the machine is effective for a more extended period.
4. The Right Time
Dehumidifiers are effective when there is excess humidity in your home. Therefore you should only turn it on after using the shower or using the drier to dry clothes indoors.
A dehumidifier may take up to 12 hours to work efficiently on the first ran. Under normal circumstances, a dehumidifier is expected to reduce humidity within a few days to a week. If the space has specific damp issues or is flooded, the dehumidifier can be supplemented by other air movers.
A dehumidifier does not kill mold. However, it creates an inhospitable environment for their growth and multiplication by reducing the amount of moisture in the atmosphere within which they thrive. Any previously grown mold doesn’t grow further in the absence of moisture.
A dehumidifier consumes less power compared to an air conditioning compressor. Once you install a dehumidifier, your home feels warmer, healthier, and less hospitable to harmful pathogens; therefore, you do not need to run an air compressor regularly; this saves utility bills in the long run.
Depending on the humidity level in a given space, dehumidifiers should run continuously to ensure relative humidity is kept below 60% to reduce, if not eliminate, dust mites, mold, mild dew, and respiratory illnesses.
The main purpose of a dehumidifier is to reduce moisture in the atmosphere. During cold weather, the air is dry, rendering dehumidifiers less useful. However, extremely cold weather may damage the dehumidifiers by freezing up the coils. The units work best in rooms above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, below which dehumidifiers should be turned off.