Frequently Asked Questions
A dehumidifier is a great solution for removing uncomfortable excess moisture from your indoor environment and restoring a healthy humidity level. However, dehumidifiers are often overlooked as solutions because many people don't understand how they function and are not aware of the many benefits they offer. To shed some light on these valuable air quality-boosting appliances, review our list of frequently asked questions about dehumidifiers.
Dehumidifiers remove excess moisture in the air. If you notice condensation on windows, wet stains on walls and ceilings, mold, or musty scents, you probably have a moisture problem. If these problems are ignored, structural damage may occur to your home, allergic reactions, respiratory problems, and other health issues may arise.
A dehumidifier is designed to pull damp, sticky air into the unit, rapidly cool it and condense the moisture, and redistribute the drier, dehumidified air back into your environment using a fan. Depending on your needs and the dehumidifier model you are using, the collected water either drains into a water collection receptacle contained in the dehumidifier or it drains through a hose and into an exterior receptacle (i.e., a floor drain) using simple gravity. Optional pumps are also available to carry the water a farther distance.
Dehumidifiers are often placed in areas where excess moisture is most prevalent: Basements, Crawl Spaces, Kitchens, Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Spas or Indoor Pool Areas, Warehouses, and Workshops.
The most common way to measure humidity in your home is Relative Humidity (RH). For most spaces, it is ideal to maintain a 45% – 50% RH level. Relative humidity levels above 50% create an environment where mold spores, dust mites, bacteria, and even cockroaches and other harmful pests thrive. High levels also foster unpleasant odors and accelerated decaying and staining of your home’s structure and interior.
A relative humidity level below 30%, however, can be just as damaging. Such a low-humidity environment can lead to an increase in cold and flu viruses, irritated skin and respiratory passages, cracked ceilings, separated wood floors, and more.
One of the primary culprits behind allergy symptoms in homes is excess moisture. Too much moisture in your indoor environment creates a breeding ground for mold, mildew, dust mites, and bacteria. All of these can irritate allergies, causing itchy eyes and skin, and respiratory problems. By using a dehumidifier to remove the excess humidity from your indoor environment, you can create an overall healthier environment and control your allergy symptoms.
The main consideration for which dehumidifer to choose is capacity size large enough to handle the space needed. Carefully look at the recommend square footage size for a unit. Remember it is better to have a unit larger than needed rather than try to use smaller unit.
Capacity isn’t the only variable to take into consideration when choosing a dehumidifier. Depending on the type of space you want to dehumidify, there are more specific models such as the Santa Fe Advance for crawl spaces that is designed to tackle moisture problems in tight crawl spaces. Or the Hi-E Dry 100 for indoor pools that help keep indoor swimming areas comfortable and reduce moisture-related structural damage.
In addition to capacity, coverage area, and type of humidity problem, dehumidifiers also have a variety of features. For single room dehumidifiers, user-friendly design is important. When purchasing one of these units, look for features such as a digital humidistat, a programmable timer, an easy-to-adjust control panel, full-bucket overflow protection, caster wheels for moving the dehumidifier from room to room, and automatic pump out options.
For larger capacity models, such as industrial and warehouse dehumidifiers, a humidstat that allows users to select a desired humidity level and have that level automatically maintained by the dehumidifier is a great option. In other words, look for models with “set it and forget it” functionality. Industrial-grade dehumidifiers are often used to remove excess moisture from multiple areas. In these instances, look for dehumidifiers that offer ducting options. Automatic pump out drain are also popular features for large-capacity dehumidifiers.
Proper placement of is critical for best performance. Most people place dehumidifiers in basements, laundry rooms, crawl spaces, and indoor pool areas since these areas often have moisture problems. However, there are models available to address a variety of moisture issues that can be placed anywhere—from single bedrooms to warehouses.
Once you have determined the area that needs dehumidifying, narrow down the specific part of that area where the dehumidifier will physically be placed. We recommend placing your dehumidifier at least six inches away from walls to allow for maximum airflow into and out of the dehumidifier.
Most dehumidifiers have the option of manual water removal using a collection bucket or drainage using a drain hose. For smaller jobs, a dehumidifier that collects water using a bucket is a convenient option, or directly into a floor drain.
For larger dehumidifying jobs or if you don’t want the hassle of monitoring and emptying a water collection tank, look for dehumidifiers that offer automatic pump out. Many models come with longer drain tubing that allows you to direct the collected water to a basement drain or outside of a window. If you need to pump collected water upward to remove it from your area or you don't have a nearby drain, look for a dehumidifier, like the Hi-E Dry 100, with a built-in condensate pump. Some dehumidifiers can also integrate external condensate pumps.
Ducting your dehumidifier is a great idea for those needing to remove excess moisture from multiple rooms, as it allows users to incorporate their dehumidifier into an existing HVAC system. Ducting is also a great solution for dehumidifying indoor pools, remote spaces, and other large spaces that need consistent dehumidification. Moreover, ducting allows you to hide the dehumidifier out of sight if you choose, while still enjoying the comfort of dehumidified air. If you have any unfinished areas of your basement, ducting between the finished and unfinished parts can keep your entire basement area properly humidified. Many of our dehumidifiers, including Santa Fe dehumidifiers and Hi-E Dry models, feature optional duct kits and other accessories for integration into your ductwork.
Dehumidifiers require a fan to move air, and the higher the fan setting, the more noise you can expect. Additionally, dehumidifiers use a compressor, which makes slightly more noise than a fan. Thus, when the compressor is operating, users should expect an increase in noise.
Fortunately, newer dehumidifiers are significantly quieter than older ones. In fact, on lower settings, the noise is comparable to white noise. Of course, on high settings, a dehumidifier will be considerably louder and possibly disturb sleep or activity throughout the day.
A recent study released by the National Association of Home Builders estimates that the average life of a dehumidifier is approximately 8 years. In our experience, residential dehumidifiers typically last 5 - 7 years with consistent use under normal operating conditions.
The lifespan of your dehumidifier is based on the amount of use and maintenance. For example, if you use your dehumidifier year round, you are more likely to encounter problems than someone who uses their dehumidifier during the summer only. Also, using a dehumidifier that is too small for your space will shorten the life of the product because it will be constantly operating during warm, humid summer months to remove excess moisture.
While dehumidifiers are great solutions for removing excess moisture from your environment, there are a few other moisture-reducing tips to keep humidity levels healthy in your home. First, repair any leaks or seepage in or around your home, including faulty pipes and clogged gutters. Also, ensure that exhaust hoses on appliances like dryers are properly routed to exhaust warm air outside of your home. Use exhaust fans in areas such as your kitchen or bathroom to quickly remove unwanted moisture at the source. If your home has an existing central air conditioning system, install an A/C vent in the problem area to take advantage of your A/C’s dehumidifying capabilities.