What is a dehumidifier?
Portable electric dehumidifiers, the most common and effective type available, work in a similar way to an air conditioner except the air is heated instead of cooled. A dehumidifier uses a fan to draw moist room air over a series of coils - first a refrigerated coil, and then a heated coil. As the refrigerated coil cools down the moist air, the moisture content in the air condenses into water and drips down into a collection bucket or drain hose. The now drier air then passes over the heated coil before being released back into the room as dry, warm air. A dehumidifier is most effective at warmer temperatures and higher relative humidity levels.
What should my humidity level be, and how do I know if I need a dehumidifier?
Relative humidity levels above 60% can cause mold or mildew to grow, resulting in musty smelling air and unhealthy airborne mold spores. The ideal relative humidity level should be somewhere between 30% - 50%. Many basements in warm humid climates need dehumidification during the summer months to keep mold growth at bay. If you notice a musty smell or odor in a room, it will probably benefit from a dehumidifier, as drier air is not only healthier for you but will also be less likely to smell or have a stale, musty odor. A quick and inexpensive way to check the relative humidity level in any room is with a hygrometer.
What is capacity, and what size dehumidifier should I get for my basement/storage/laundry/living room?
Dehumidifiers are rated according to pint capacity, which refers to how many pints of water it is capable of removing from the air in a 24 hour period (actual water removal per day will vary with the temperature and relative humidity level of the room). Most dehumidifier manufacturers do not refer to specific room sizes in square feet, as the starting relative humidity level of the room plays just as important a role as the size of the room in determining the capacity needed. Dehumidifiers range in capacity from 25 to 70 pints per day (the higher the capacity, the more moisture it is capable of removing per day). Generally you want to use the highest capacity dehumidifier possible in your room to ensure the most efficient operation, as a higher capacity unit will be able to extract moisture from the air faster and as a result may not need to be run as frequently or on as high a fan speed as a lower capacity model. If you have a small area and space is a concern, then of course the lower capacity models are an excellent alternative.
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How much electricity does a dehumidifier use?
Electricity usage varies with the capacity of the dehumidifier. While a higher capacity dehumidifier will draw more electricity while running, the larger units are actually going to be more energy efficient because they are more effective and faster at removing moisture from the air. This means that the larger the unit, the less often the compressor will need to be on, thus saving you money in the long run.
How often will I need to empty the water bucket, and can I have the dehumidifier drain continuously?
Most dehumidifiers offer the option of either emptying into a removable water container, or draining continuously through a hose. If you have a nearby floor drain or sump pump, you can attach a garden hose to the continuous drainage port of your dehumidifier and you will not have to worry about emptying a bucket, as the unit will work continuously, always draining any collected water down the drain. You should always position your dehumidifier as close as possible to the floor drain, and use a short length of hose, to ensure proper drainage. If you do not have access to a floor drain, then simply empty the water container when it fills up (a fill indicator will shut off the unit and let you know when the bucket needs emptying). How often the bucket will fill up is going to vary based on the environmental conditions, so when it is very warm and humid outside or during a rainy period you may need to empty the bucket more frequently than at other times. There may be some rooms that do not have very much moisture in the air, and the bucket will only need to be emptied every few days, and other rooms could fill up a bucket more than once per day.
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How much noise does a dehumidifier make?
A dehumidifier uses a fan to draw air into and out of the unit, and a compressor to extract moisture from the air. Both compressors and fans do make noise, although older dehumidifiers used to be much louder than today's newer and more energy efficient models. In fact, the newest dehumidifier models we carry make considerably less noise than ever before. Still, most dehumidifiers are used in basements where noise level is not too critical. If running a dehumidifier in a living space or anywhere that noise level is important, you can always set it to the lowest fan speed and power level, which will make less noise.
Will a dehumidifier make my room warmer?
Dehumidifiers work much the same way as air conditioners, however unlike air conditioners, a dehumidifier does not cool the air. Instead, when the compressor inside a dehumidifier is working, it dries the air and releases it back into the room as heated air. This may increase the temperature in the room by a few degrees, but the extent to which the room temperature may rise will depend on the size of the room and the amount of time the compressor is working to remove moisture. The smaller the room, the more the air temperature will be raised, while in a large area, the effect is usually negligible.
Can a dehumidifier work in more than one room at a time?
A dehumidifier is going to be most effective in the one room it is in. If you have multiple rooms connected by open doorways with a very open floorplan, then the dehumidifier is more likely to be able to work in those other rooms as well. However, if you have multiple rooms separate by doors or long hallways, you may need to move the dehumidifier from room to room as needed. Most portable dehumidifiers come with casters to allow for easy portability.
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Are there any filters that need to be replaced?
A dehumidifier uses a permanent, cleanable and reusable air filter to protect the compressor and remove larger airborne particles from the air. You can simply rinse the filter clean from time to time and reuse it indefinitely - there are no replaceable filters, parts , or maintenance needed to keep your dehumidifier running properly.
Can I run a dehumidifier together with my air conditioning?
Yes, it is perfectly fine to run a dehumidifier together with an air conditioner and furnace filter, portable fan, air purifier, or any other air treatment appliance.
Can I drink the water collected by a dehumidifier?
While the water collected by a dehumidifier is free of any minerals or other impurities, it is not considered safe potable drinking water, as it has been drawn over a series of coils which are not sanitary, and once collected in the water container it can sit stagnant where bacteria can grow. Therefore you should not drink the water collected by your dehumidifier, nor should you feed it to your pets. However, you can reuse it for other non-drinking purposes, including gardening or watering indoor and outdoor plants.
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