Summertime is filled with high temps and high humidity, certainly the time to get the AC going full blast. But what if you don’t have central air? Or you have it, but it just doesn’t seem to handle the indoor humidity the way you’d like? At what point does it make sense to add a dehumidifier to your home? How does a dehumidifier work? What are the signs that you might really need one? These are the questions we’ll tackle today.
How a Dehumidifier Works
A dehumidifier is actually sort of a mini air conditioner. It uses a refrigerant and a refrigeration process to cool incoming air as it passes through the evaporator section. The air cools to the dew point, the moisture condenses to droplets of water on the evaporator coil, and runs into the collection pan (or down a drain). On the air outlet side, the heat generated by the process is vented and comes out slightly warm.
Reasons to Manage Your Home’s Humidity
For most homeowners, the number one reason to control indoor humidity is simple: comfort. Not too many people enjoy the “clammy” feel of a too-humid environment. While comfort is important, there may be even more compelling reasons to keep your home’s humidity under control.
- Protecting your home’s wood. Over longer periods of time, a high humidity environment can damage wood furniture, wood trim, and doors and windows in your home. Excess moisture in the air can infiltrate wood, causing it to expand, warp, and even rot. If you have extremes of high humidity then low humidity, that can also be a problem, causing wood flooring to warp or crack. None of those situations are necessary and can be avoided with good dehumidification.
- Protecting your family’s health. It can surprise many homeowners to learn that a humidity level of 60% or higher is a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. That may or may not be an uncomfortable level of humidity for personal comfort. Some people aren’t bothered by a few mold spores, but longer term, both mold and mildew can become a problem. That’s especially true if anyone in your household suffers from allergies or environmental sensitivities. In that case, controlling humidity is essential.
Signs that You Might Need a Dehumidifier
Of course, you’ll know if your skin feels clammy or if you’re feeling a sense of “heaviness” in the air. That may be your first clue it's time to take action and dehumidify your home. Other signs include:
- Musty odors, especially in your basement, can be an early warning sign.
- Mold or mildew. Most frequently seen in basements, these can show up anywhere that the humidity has built up over a longer period of time, including bathrooms and even attics.
- Windows that appear foggy or have condensation running down them can also be a clue. If this continues, you could risk rotting wood frames.
Types of Dehumidifiers
There are two basic types of dehumidifiers: portable and duct-mounted. Duct mounted models are integrated into your HVAC system and cover your entire home. They have the advantage of being easy to maintain. Portable models are good for smaller spaces but they need to be emptied and can be noisy.
An alternative may be upgrading your AC to a variable speed model. These units can often handle your home’s humidity without the addition of an actual dehumidifier. At Stay Comfy, we recommend Carrier’s line of ACs. Right now Carrier is offering some great rebates, so take a look and contact your local dealer for more details.