Dehumidifier Buyers Guide
Having levels of moisture above 50% in your home or basement can provide a breeding ground for mold, dust mites, termites and other unhealthful allergens. The musty odors associated with this humidity can be unhealthy and extremely uncomfortable for its occupants. High humidity and mold can also destroy your possessions. A dehumidifier therefore provides a practical and cost effective solution for removing unwanted moisture.
Do I Need a Dehumidifier?
You need a dehumidifier if you are coping with damp, clammy conditions and musty odors in an indoor environment and are concerned that your possessions might get moldy. You will also need a dehumidifier as part of a flood clean up process. There are also places where the humidity level in your living space is simply very uncomfortable, and a dehumidifier will restore it to more tolerable levels. It is the humidity rather than the heat that causes your problems.
How Do Dehumidifiers Work?
Most types of dehumidifiers are similar to an air conditioner since they use a refrigeration system to remove heat and moisture from incoming air, and add heat to the air that is discharged. A fan in the dehumidifier draws in air from the room which often has a high humidity level. When the air is pulled into the unit, it passes over the cooling coils which remove moisture from the air by lowering the temperature. The air then is reheated and redistributed back into the room without the moisture The moisture from the dehumidifier is then either collected in a container that needs to be emptied or is drained out the back of the unit to drain or sink.
Selecting a Dehumidifier
- Energy Star rated dehumidifiers can make a great deal of difference to your utility bills over the long term, since dehumidifiers can consume as much electricity as your refrigerator. More expensive machines are often more efficient and more than pay for themselves, all the while providing superior dehumidification. An added bonus is that many utility companies provide rebates for the purchase of an energy certified machine.
- Purchase a dehumidifier with a larger capacity than you need for your room square footage. Manufacturers usually rate the square footage capacity for their dehumidifiers in dry conditions. Outside conditions affect the performance of the dehumidifier especially high humidity areas of the country.
- Make sure that the dehumidifier physical dimensions are not too large and can fit in the space you want to place it. You also need easy access to this space. High capacity dehumidifiers are heavier to move around.
- The pint rating on a dehumidifier refers to the number of pints it can remove under ideal conditions (60% relative humidity and 80 degrees) in a 24 hour period – not to the size of the bucket. This is why people usually choose a higher pint rating for maximum moisture removal.
- If your target area is a basement, choose a dehumidifier which is specially designed to continue to be effective at lower temperatures, especially to at least 42 degrees. The problem here is that some dehumidifiers will ice up below sixty degrees and then cease to be effective. You will be looking for a machine with a frost guard or in the more expensive dehumidifiers, a hot gas defrost process.
- There is no silent dehumidifier especially one with a compressor. The best models have improved greatly so that the noise level is lower but check the decibel levels for the model that you are interested in.
- Choose a manufacturer with an impeccable track record since there have been safety recalls on past models. We only offer models that have not had any past issues.
How to Use a Dehumidifier
- Place your dehumidifier so that it has air flowing around it on all sides.
- Use a hose from your dehumidifier and drain water automatically into a sink, outside your house, or to a floor drain. You may need an auxiliary pump if one is not built in to your machine. If you don’t have a place to drain the water from the dehumidifier, you will need to empty the bucket when it gets full on a regular basis. Note that larger capacity dehumidifiers only come with a drainage hose and don’t offer a bucket.
- The best dehumidifiers also have excellent air filters in them, and thus serve a dual purpose. However all dehumidifiers have some kind of air filter in them. Failure to clean the filter every six months will shorten the life of the machine, cause air clogs and the dehumidifier will eventually fail.
- If your basement has a dirt floor, we suggest you pour concrete over it with a moisture guard coating. At the very least, put down a plastic barrier and secure it with gravel. Otherwise, your attempts at dehumidification, especially with low water table levels will be difficult.
Area to Dehumidify
Buy a dehumidifier that is right sized for your specific needs, conditions, and location. If at all possible don’t buy a dehumidifier just because of its low price, because it will very probably cost you more to run in the long run, and will not last more than eighteen months to two years. Sad but true.
- You will need a built in digital humidistat to allow you to set the machine to the desired level of humidity.
- A built in hygrometer to monitor whether you are actually achieving your desired humidity level. We recommend setting between 48 and 50%.
- A built in auto shut off feature if you are using a bucket model.
- A drainage plug and hose out the back of the unit is preferred for continuous water removal.
- An auxiliary condensate pump if not already built into the machine is necessary when pumping the water away from the dehumidifier, up a wall or into a sink.
- Auto defrost will shut the dehumidifier off at the first sign of frost, heat up the machine and then resume operation.
- An auto restart feature which resumes operation after a power outage, is absolutely necessary if you have two homes or even take extended vacations.
- For ease of maintenance, castors on your dehumidifier are a plus. Dehumidifiers are can be heavy to move.
- Energy Star rated for more effective use of electricity. The more expensive machines will pay for themselves with their miserly energy consumption.
- Warranty. The best machines have up to five years warranty on major parts.