Whole house dehumidifiers are a low-maintenance way to keep your entire home dry, healthy, and comfortable.
In hot, humid climates, there are times of the year, especially in the spring and fall, when the temperature is not high enough to call for air conditioning, but the humidity level is high enough to make conditions inside the home uncomfortable. As a result, you might feel hot and sticky indoors, have pest problems, see mold and mildew growth, and possibly develop allergy symptoms. Whether it’s portable or connected inline with your HVAC system, a whole house dehumidifier helps you maintain a healthy humidity level throughout all the rooms in your home without the need for air conditioning.
One study done by Building Science Corporation indicated that separate dehumidification is even more necessary in energy-efficient homes because efficiency measures like better insulation, air sealing, and energy-efficient windows reduce the home’s temperature but don’t reduce humidity. Also, in an energy-efficient home, a central air conditioning system does not have to operate as much to bring the indoor temperature down. Therefore, the air conditioner may not operate long enough to reduce the humidity, especially in the spring and fall when outdoor temperatures are not much higher than indoor temperatures. The study also compared dehumidifier technologies and found that stand-alone dehumidifiers were a cost- effective option compared to more expensive, integrated systems.
Before installing a dehumidifier, you should rule out other sources of moisture in the home that need to be repaired. This could include a dirt basement or crawlspace floor that is not covered with a plastic vapor barrier, open sump pumps, improper site grading that allows water to pool around the foundation, inadequate exhaust ventilation, or exhaust fans that vent to the attic.
When shopping for a dehumidifier, consider the following basic questions.
- Why do I need a dehumidifier?
Dehumidifiers provide much-needed allergy relief for many customers. Allergens like mold and dust mites require a certain level of humidity in order to thrive. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends keeping your relative humidity below 50% to reduce indoor allergens. Excessive humidity may also damage building materials such as wooden support beams and floors. A dehumidifier not only guards against structural damage and allergies, but it also supplements your air conditioning. Since dry air feels cooler, dehumidifiers help you to save money on cooling bills.
- How much space do I need to dehumidify?
It’s important to choose the right size dehumidifier. Otherwise, the unit may not be able to remove enough moisture from the air—and it will waste energy by working too hard. For best results, select the right size unit based on the square footage of the space you need to dehumidify. If your space is at the high end of a dehumidifier’s capacity, choose a larger size to ensure efficiency.
- What’s my indoor temperature and humidity level?
Indoor temperature and humidity levels affect the performance of dehumidifiers. If you plan to place your dehumidifier in a low-temperature space—in a garage, basement, or crawlspace, for instance—then you need to make sure that it will continue to operate efficiently at low temperatures. Otherwise, the coils in the unit may freeze up.
If you need to dehumidify a space with extremely high humidity, then you’ll need a high-capacity unit that can handle large moisture loads. Commercial dehumidifiers are available. In addition, consider dehumidifiers for specific areas such as crawlspace dehumidifiers, basement dehumidifiers, and units for indoor pools and spas.
- How will I remove collected water?
All dehumidifiers collect the water that they remove from the air, and you should consider how you will eliminate this water. Standard dehumidifiers contain buckets that you must empty regularly. They will automatically shut off when the bucket is full. With most dehumidifiers, you can connect a drain hose to the collection bucket, which allows you to empty the water into a floor drain or direct it outdoors. For situations where the water needs to be pumped upward in order to be eliminated, you can purchase a condensate pump attachment. Some units, such as the Santa Fe Rx Dehumidifier, come equipped with internal condensate pumps.
- What does my home require?
Different dehumidifiers come with various features. Ask yourself if you need any special features, such as the option of ducting. Many units allow for ducting so that you can dehumidify multiple spaces at the same time. Ducting also lets you hide the dehumidifier in a closet or a separate room. Other special features include caster wheels or handles for easy mobility, humidistats, digital controls, remote controls, integrated timers, and internal condensate pumps.