During the summer, Central Pennsylvania often experiences high humidity which makes the heat harder to deal with. Humidity makes the air around you feel heavy, and if you perform any physical exertion at all, you can often feel it in your lungs. Humidity levels in a home should be maintained at 30-60% for your health, comfort and to protect your contents. But do you need a dehumidifier? If any of the following indicators are detected, you have an issue that needs to be remedied.
- Musty, Mildewy Smells.
- Condensation on Windows.
- Water Stains
- Rotting Wood
- Allergy Symptoms (subsequent to humidity-related mold, bacteria, dust mite and pest proliferation).
- Mold Spots on the Ceiling or Corners
- Pest problems (bugs love moisture).
A dehumidifier can not only help in restoration, but it can help in maintaining clean air so that any issues with mold can be prevented.
How Do Dehumidifiers Work?
Dehumidifiers are portable devices that pull moisture from the air, decreasing the dampness in a room. They work best in a closed environment. As hot air is capable of retaining more moisture than cold air, dehumidifiers take advantage of this principle. Sucking in air from within the room, they perform dehumidification by passing air over a cold evaporator coil filled with refrigerant to create condensation. Condensation collected on the evaporator is collected in a drip basin or is drained out via plumbing. The dehumidifier then reheats the air and blows it back into the room. As this happens, the refrigerant cycles through a compressor and condenser to be passed through the evaporator coil again as the cycle repeats itself until the desired relative humidity is reached.
Air movement encourages evaporation from wet materials, like carpets, walls and contents, while the job of the dehumidifier is to remove the moisture from the air. This makes the air drier and encourages more evaporation. Without the dehumidification, the air will absorb water until saturated and then stop absorbing water from wet materials. Not only will drying stop, but secondary water damage can also be an issue and problems can ensue such as wood cabinets absorbing water from the air and warping.
Does a Dehumidifier Clean the Air?
When the warm air leaves behind water on the coils, that water contains dust, pollen or other allergens. The air is thus cleaner. Additionally, most units have an air filter that will remove large particles, like pet hair, before they can enter the system. However, a dehumidifier is not an air purifier, at least not in the way that term is commonly used. A purifier uses a filtration system to remove particles from the air and has nothing to do with the process of condensation. Such a system is going to do a better job of removing very small particles from the air than a dehumidifier, but won’t help with humidity-related comfort.
Is My Air Conditioner also a Dehumidifier?
Is the air conditioner that cools down your home enough to combat this high humidity? The AC does provide relief from high temperatures, and it also provides some dehumidification. However, the air conditioner is not an actual dehumidifier. You’ll need additional help to balance your indoor humidity. From time to time, you’ll hear the sound of water dripping inside an air conditioner. This is the moisture that collects along the evaporator coil while the AC is running. The evaporator coil draws thermal energy from the air to cool it down, and a side-effect of this action is that moisture in the air condenses along the coil’s surface. The moisture drips down into a pan and a drain remove it. This lowers the humidity of the air, but the air conditioner isn’t designed to actually balance the indoor humidity, which is the role of an actual dehumidifier.
It’s important to note that Dehumidifiers allow the air conditioner to work effectively. It removes moisture from the air which means the AC won’t have to work as hard to keep a comfortable temperature in your home. This saves wear and tear on the unit as well as lower energy use.
Do Dehumidifiers Remove Mold?
There are three things needed to develop molds and mildews: organic material (food, wood, paper etc.), optimum temperature and moisture. For all practical purposes it’s not possible to totally remove all mold spores from your home. Mold spreads as long as it has a water source. If the humidity in a room increases, mold will start growing in patches on walls, clothes, and more. However, it stays dormant in the air or on surfaces even when there’s no excess moisture to help it grow. Dehumidifiers do not kill mold, but they do prevent it by reducing humidity.
Maintaining a Dehumidifier
While dehumidifiers help prevent mold and mildew development in your home, they can become a target for mold, growth on the coil, in the holding tank, the filter and other parts. The following cleaning tips will prevent this and help the unit work more effectively and efficiently.
- Turn off the power and unplug the dehumidifier, or flip the circuit breaker for a whole-home dehumidifier.
- Remove the air filter. Gently hand wash it and let it air dry.
- Disconnect the dehumidifier’s cover to access the coil.
- Spray the coil with a no-rinse foaming anti-microbial coil cleaner.
- The foaming cleaner should drip into the water collection tank; though, follow the instructions on the type you use.
- Use a soft cloth to wipe down the coil and parts.
- Remove the water collection tank.
- Wash it out in your bathtub or outdoor spigot.
Don’t let humidity stick it to you; home dehumidifiers offer the most advantageous solution for a healthier and more comfortable living environment. If you are having issues with allergens, mold and mildew, or moisture damage, feel free to contact Xtreme Home Improvement. We provide full service Mold Removal and Air Duct Cleaning services.