Do I need a Dehumidifier to prevent mold growth?

Do I need a Dehumidifier to prevent mold growth?

The short answer is yes, a dehumidifier can help prevent mold growth in your home. But there’s a bit more to it than that. In this blog post, we’ll explore how dehumidifiers work, the different types of dehumidifiers that are available on the market, and how to know if a dehumidifier is right for your home.

What Does a Dehumidifier do?

A dehumidifier is an appliance that removes moisture from the air. Dehumidifiers are commonly used in homes and businesses to help control the level of humidity, which can range from too low (dry air) to too high (humid air).

The ideal relative humidity level for indoor spaces is between 30% and 50%. When the humidity level gets too high, it can create an environment that is conducive to mold and mildew growth. Dehumidifiers help to reduce the amount of moisture in the air, lowering the risk of mold and mildew growth.

How do Dehumidifiers work?

Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air through the use of either refrigerant or desiccant.

Refrigerant Dehumidifiers:

These dehumidifiers work by using a refrigerant to cool coils inside the dehumidifier, and then blow air from the room across these cool coils. When the humid air hits the cold coils the water vapor condenses on the coils removing the water from the air. The water is then collected in a tank or drained through a hose. Refrigerant dehumidifiers are more energy-efficient than other types of dehumidifiers and can be used in larger spaces.

Desiccant Dehumidifiers:

These dehumidifiers work by absorbing moisture from the air onto a rotating wheel coated with a material that has a high affinity for water vapor. The water is then removed from the wheel and collected in a tank or drained through a hose. Desiccant dehumidifiers are more effective than refrigerant dehumidifiers in low-temperature environments and can be used in smaller spaces.

With Dehumidifiers One size does not fit all

Dehumidifiers come in many different sizes and while they all work to remove moisture from the air, they are built for different applications. In general, dehumidifiers can be broken down into 4 categories: Travel/Specialty Dehumidifiers, Commercial Dehumidifiers, Portable Dehumidifiers, and Whole Home Dehumidifiers

Travel/Specialty Dehumidifiers

These are purpose-built dehumidifiers that are designed with a specific application in mind. Small portable Dehumidifiers for inside gun safes or used on boats when they are stored are both examples of this type of dehumidifier. Some of these do not require power and could be used in places like a tight closet or a cabinet, where there is no good airflow or space for a larger portable dehumidifier.

Commercial Dehumidifiers

Commercial dehumidifiers are at the opposite end of the dehumidification spectrum. These are large, heavy-duty units built for professionals and designed to remove large amounts of moisture as quickly as possible. These are the units you would see used by restoration companies in the event of a flood or other water intrusion event. Unless you have a major water intrusion event like a flood, chances are you will not have the need for a commercial dehumidifier.

If you’re looking for a decent higher-end commercial dehumidifier, we suggest the Frigidaire 50 Pint Dehumidifier. It saves you time and energy normally spent manually emptying a water bucket by allowing the unit to discharge moisture in an upward direction, either into a sink or out of a window. The Easy-to-Clean Washable Filter captures dust from the air for a cleaner, more comfortable home environment with Custom Humidity Control for maximized comfort.

Portable Dehumidifiers

Close your eyes, and picture a dehumidifier. Chance’s are this is the type of unit you are picturing. These are by far the most common type of units that we see in homes and basements. They are widely available from most appliance manufacturers, and range in price from about $150 – $450.

Whole Home Dehumidifiers

Ideally, these are the units I would like to see in most homes and basements. These are larger units than the portable options, but they are permanently installed in the home and can be integrated into a forced air system. Generally, they are installed in a utility room alongside the furnace / HVAC system so they operate out of sight.

If you want to go for a whole home dehumidifier, may I suggest looking at the Aprilaire E70 Pro 70 Pint Dehumidifier? It’s ideal for dehumidifying your sealed crawl space or basement, removing up to 70 pints of water per day. The control panel comes mounted on the front of the unit so it is easy to access in any location, and it has leveling feet. A simple-to-use interactive display makes set-up and uses a breeze. Low maintenance with no messy water tray to empty, and simple once-a-year filter cleaning or replacement.

Portable Vs Whole Home Dehumidifiers

When discussing what dehumidifier is right to prevent mold in your home, we are going to be down to these two options, Portable, and Whole Home Dehumidifiers. The main difference between these two types of dehumidifiers is that portable units need to be emptied frequently, while whole-home dehumidifiers can be plumbed into a drain so they can run continuously. While portable units are less expensive up-front, they. Also, portable dehumidifiers will only dehumidify the air in the area around the dehumidifier. When properly installed, whole-home units will utilize a home’s existing ductwork to dehumidify air throughout the whole home.

Portable Dehumidifier Pros:

  • Low Up-Front Cost
  • Can be moved from room to room
  • Easy to set up and operate

Portable Dehumidifier Cons:

  • Need to be emptied frequently
  • Limited area of effect
  • Lower dehumidification capacity
  • Louder operation
  • Needs to be in the room to dehumidify

Whole Home Dehumidifier Pros:

  • Removes more moisture from the air
  • Controls humidity throughout the whole home – greatly impacting comfort
  • More energy efficient
  • Operates out of sight

Whole Home Dehumidifier Cons:

  • Higher upfront cost
  • Professional installation required
  • Can’t take it with you if you move

Which Type of Dehumidifier is Right for Me?

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the size of your home, the level of humidity you’re trying to achieve, and your budget. In most cases, budget tends to be the determining factor. The cost difference is significant, with portable dehumidifiers starting around $150 and whole-home dehumidifiers starting around $1,100 plus requiring professional installation.

If you’re concerned about mold growth in your home, a dehumidifier can help prevent it. Be sure to do your research to decide which type of dehumidifier is right for you and your home.

Final Thoughts

I tried to lay out the information above from as much of a balanced perspective as I could, but I think it is clear that my preference is for whole-home dehumidifiers. There are 2 reasons why I have a strong preference here: my personal experience and my professional experience. I have both a portable and a whole home dehumidifier in my home. After my first summer with the whole home dehumidifier, I was completely sold on it. Not only is it better for controlling humidity and preventing mold growth, but my house is so much more comfortable. In the summer, we can keep the air conditioning 3 degrees warmer than we did before having the dehumidifier, but it still feels cooler in the home because the humidity is so much cooler. I can finally understand when people from the desert say that 115 isn’t that bad because “it’s a dry heat” (although I still think that’s nuts).

The unfortunate reality of many portable dehumidifiers

Professionally, as a mold remediator, I see a lot of wet basements, and a lot of mold caused by humidity. Mold problems that could have been prevented with a dehumidifier. The frustrating thing in many of these situations is: THEY HAVE A DEHUMIDIFIER!

That’s right, they have a dehumidifier and still, they have humidity-based mold growth in an area where a dehumidifier SHOULD have been able to keep it under control.  So what’s the problem? The bucket was full. Most portable dehumidifiers have a bucket at the bottom that the water gets stored in, and 9 times out of 10 when I come across one in someone’s home who has a mold problem the bucket is full. When these are full they turn off so they don’t spill water everywhere. If the homeowner doesn’t notice that they are full, they just have a big bucket of water sitting in their basement. During our humid summers here in Pittsburgh, a portable dehumidifier can fill up daily, and most people just don’t manage them well; eliminating any real benefit that the dehumidifier provides.

If a whole home unit isn’t economically feasible, try to make sure that the portable is set up so it can have a hose that runs to a drain so it doesn’t need to be emptied. If you don’t have a floor drain they make portable models with a built-in pump so it can run to a utility sink.

I hope this has helped you decide which type of dehumidifier is right for your needs! If you have any further questions please feel free to reach out to us at Mold Medics.

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