Buying a dehumidifier is the first step toward taking charge of the air quality in your home, but do you know how to use it properly? In this simple guide, we are going to walk you through how to use a dehumidifier effectively.
When is a Dehumidifier Necessary & What do Different Humidity Levels Mean?
We breathe air all day long that contains a variety of particles. Many times this consists of dust and mould spores. The air can also contain toxic chemicals that can harm your health. Often, these dangerous particles will multiply in the right environment which generally is warm, moist air.
Using a dehumidifier in the home sucks out the moisture which will decrease the ability of these particles to multiply. Here are some steps to determine if your home is too humid.
Ideal Relative Humidity
The ideal relative humidity in a room should be between 45% and 55%. During the winter months, it is normal for this to go as low as 40% in an effort to avoid condensation on windows.
When the relative humidity stays over 65% for an extended period of time, you face the risk of mould growing. The best way to determine the correct relative humidity for each room is with a hygrometer.
It is normal to expect that some rooms will have a higher relative humidity than other rooms. For example, the kitchen is going to read higher than a bedroom, especially when cooking. In addition, the bathroom is going to have a higher relative humidity during bathing.
If you don’t have a hygrometer, you can tell how humid a room is simply by feel.
A humidity level over 65% in a room is going to cause a feeling of stuffiness. It can also lead to having your skin feeling clammy or moist. This is also the time when you will start to suffer from musty odours in the room.
If the humidity level in a room drops below 35%, you could be facing some of the opposite symptoms, such as:
- Flaky, itchy and dry skin
- Peeling paint from walls and furniture
- Chapped lips that crack and bleed
- Furniture beginning to warp
Other Ways to Determine the Need for a Dehumidifier
Here are a few other ways you will be able to notice your need for a dehumidifier.
Mould Spots – Look at the ceiling of your bathrooms and inspect for dark spots. If you see these, you might be facing a mould problem. To help alleviate this problem, you want to make sure that you run the exhaust fan after every shower.
Condensation – If your windows regularly have beads of water forming on them, you suffer from condensation issues. This can also present itself as vapour or fog on the glass.
Odours – Musty smells are a tell-tale sign that mildew and mould are present. It is important that you find the source of the odour and begin taking steps to alleviate the moisture immediately.
Rotting Wood – Any wood that retainsmoisture will begin to rot. It can also attract unwanted pests into the home. If you notice rotting wood, you need to start by running a dehumidifier and remove excess moisture.
Choosing the Right Dehumidifier
So, you’ve decided it’s time to purchase a dehumidifier? As we’ve talked about more in depth before, choosing between a compressor or desiccant dehumidifier can be rather confusing. While you can read our complete breakdown of suggestions, the general rule of thumb tends to be:
- For colder rooms, use a desiccant dehumidifier
- For warmer rooms, use a compressor dehumidifier
Each variety offers its own unique qualities that make it worth checking out. For example, a compressor dehumidifier tends to be cheaper while the desiccant dehumidifiers offer lower noise levels when used in a lower mode.
Most homeowners prefer using compressor dehumidifiers. These systems work by creating a cold surface. When the warm air in the room hits the cold surface, condensation begins and water becomes separated from the air.
With a desiccant dehumidifier, your system will work more like a sponge. The internal heating system regenerates the desiccant to repeat the cycle again.
While both types of systems have customers who feel their machines are better, there really isn’t a wrong or right selection. Simply choose the system that is going to work best for your household needs. For more guidance, read our complete guide on Compressor and Desiccant Dehumidifiers.
How to Use a Dehumidifier Effectively for the First Time
Trying to figure out how to use a dehumidifier effectively can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are steps you can take to ensure that you are running your system to the best of its ability.
Choose Your Dehumidifier Carefully
It is important that you take the time to choose the model you need carefully. This includes ensuring that your unit will treat the square footage of the room. You also need to make sure that the dehumidifier is going to be categorised for the capacity of moisture in the room.
Placing the Dehumidifier
When learning how to use a dehumidifier effectively, it will be vitally important that you place it in the correct location. If they feature a top-mounted air discharge, you can position the unit against the wall. If the machine doesn’t offer this feature, you must ensure that there is plenty of room around the unit.
A good rule of thumb is to never place your dehumidifier around furniture or a wall unless it contains the top-mounted air discharge. The better the air circulates, the more effective your dehumidifier will work. Ideally, you should aim for about 6 to 12 inches of space around all sides of the unit.
Operating the Dehumidifier
You should always begin by reading the Owner’s manual. Then, you can measure the humidity by a hygrometer. The ideal relative humidity should be around 45-50%. Once you go above this, you could be facing issues with mould.
Plug in your dehumidifier and then adjust the settings according to the directions. Allow your unit to run through several cycles. The first few days will bring you the most moisture removal.
To keep the machine working effectively, be sure to follow these helpful tips:
- Keep the doors and windows closed while using the machine.
- Empty the water tank frequently.
- Clean and maintain your dehumidifier.
Choosing the Right Dehumidifier Size
Determining the right dehumidifier size makes all the difference when you are learning how to use a dehumidifier effectively.
Most dehumidifiers can collect up to 15 litres of water per day. This is the ideal size when dealing with spaces up to 2,000 square feet. Obviously, if you are planning to use it in a humid location like your basement, it will not be capable of treating as large of a space.
A 20-litre dehumidifier will be a mid-range model. These can also be used up to 2,000 square feet of space. These models are geared more toward moist areas such as the basement. These units will be effective at removing musty odours, mould growth and damp stains.
Large home dehumidifiers are capable of collecting up to 25 – 35 litres per day. They are best suited for areas over 2,000 square feet.
Small Space Recommendations
When you have small spaces and tight areas to dehumidify, you don’t need a large machine. There are plenty of options available to you when dealing with these smaller living quarters.
The Unibond Aero 360 is a great addition to any small spot like a wardrobe. The best part is that this unit doesn’t require any power source.
Another smaller-sized option that has been a bestseller is the DeLonghi Dehumidifier DEM10. It is a quiet machine and can extract up to 10-litres of fluid per day.
If you live in an area that is 2,000 square feet or less, or you are looking to handle a specific area, you need a mid-range option. There are several units that are worth taking a look at.
There are two models from Meaco that are useful in standard homes or rooms. The Meaco DD8L Portable Compact Dehumidifier won awards in 2014, 2015 and 2016! There is also the Meaco Low Energy Dehumidifier which will save energy but seems to run a little bit louder than other machines.
If you don’t want a Meaco brand, you could also opt for the Dimplex Dehumidifier 16 litre – Forté instead. This unit works best in areas that could use a little more heat.
Larger Space Recommendations
If you are looking to use a dehumidifier in a larger home over 2,000 feet, you are going to need a powerhouse of a unit. One of the best choices on the market is the Inventor 20L Dehumidifier. This unit features an ioniser, timer, laundry dryer and other useful functions.
There is also an Ebac dehumidifier 3850e refrigerant model that features a smart control system. This unit was specifically designed for the British climate and will work great in homes with 5 bedrooms.
Other than capacity, there are a few other factors that play into which dehumidifier to purchase. The number of people in the home will change what size you need due to the humidity increase. In addition, the machine’s fan speed plays a role as well. Before you can learn how to use a dehumidifier effectively, you must be sure you have the right unit for your space.
Positioning of Dehumidifier
To learn how to use a dehumidifier effectively, you need to position it properly. First, set your dehumidifier up in the most humid area you can find. This will typically be the bathroom, laundry room or basement.
Many basements are wet and damp from the humidity in the surrounding ground. The humidity in a home’s basement can easily lead to damage of the home’s structure. It can also lead to the growth of mould.
Bathrooms & Laundry Room
After running a hot shower or a load of laundry is complete, humidity is released into the room. Some bathrooms will feature exhaust fans that help this humidity to dissipate. Without adequate ventilation, humidity can lead to mould growth and bubbles in the paint.
Humidity will rise during cooking as the steam evaporates into the room. Using a kitchen hood filter will add in keeping the moisture down as well as learning how to use a dehumidifier effectively.
Instructions for Placing the Dehumidifier:
- Make sure that the windows and doors are closed while the dehumidifier is operating. You also want to place it in the center of the room if possible. This allows it to work efficiently.
- By placing the dehumidifier in the centre of the room, you allow the air to circulate around the unit. If the machine features a top-mounted air discharge, it would be okay to place it against the wall. Otherwise, the more air you can have moving around the machine, the better.
- If you are operating the dehumidifier in a large room, place it as close to the moisture source as possible.
- It is also important that you don’t place your dehumidifier too close to any furniture. This can further restrict the airflow around the unit.
- Pay attention to any dust sources in the room. Anything that creates dirt or dust, such as woodworking equipment, can stop the dehumidifier from working properly.
When Should I Use my Dehumidifier’s Draining Option?
When you are learning how to use a dehumidifier effectively, you are going to need to know the proper times to use the drain hose. Many people struggle to carry the bucket of water from the dehumidifier across a room without spilling it. Not only that, it is a time-consuming process.
If your unit comes with a draining option, this might be better for your needs. Follow these instructions and you will know how to use a dehumidifier effectively.
- Place your hose carefully in the sink or tub. You want to ensure that it isn’t going to fall out.
- The drain hose should not be run above the drain fitting. This could lead to flooding of your dehumidifier.
- Check on the hose often to verify that it is properly draining.
- You can use twine to secure the hose directly to the faucet if you want it to stay in place.
- Keep the hose far from any electrical outlets or cords.
- Use the shortest hose possible to avoid tripping.
Different models of dehumidifiers might have varying instructions. It is important that you refer to your owner’s manual for the best practises tailored to your machine.