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Do You Really Need a Dehumidifier?

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By Ruth MacEachern

Product Manager

Jan 06, 2020

Dehumidifiers have been around since 1902 as one of the first methods of an air conditioner unit. Since that time of course the design has moved on and so the product is a well-known household item to help reduce excess humidity. It is important to maintain a proper humidity level in your home. While too little humidity can cause some discomfort issues such as chapped lips as well as cracks in wooden furniture, the reverse—too much moisture, can make your home a breeding ground for mould and mildew, which can lead to some very serious health issues. 

There are two main types of dehumidifier to choose from – refrigerant (also known as compressor) and desiccant. They work in different ways and claim to be better suited to different environments.

Refrigerant (or compressor) dehumidifiers 

These draw in air through a filter and over cold coils.  
Water then condenses on the coils and drips into the water tank.  
It’s often claimed that they work better at higher temperatures and humidity’s, and so are the better choice for most occupied homes in the country.
Desiccant dehumidifiers  
These use an adsorbent material to extract water from the air. 
The material is then heated so that the moisture drips into the water tank.  
Desiccant dehumidifiers are designed to work more effectively in lower temperatures – the sort of environment you might expect in your typical garage or a conservatory or an unheated basement (if you've got a basement flat, and it's usually warmer than 10 degrees, you'd probably go for a refrigerant).  
It’s often claimed that desiccant dehumidifiers tend to use more energy than refrigerant dehumidifiers because of the way they use heat to warm the adsorbent material.
If you notice your home has a small humidity issue then a dehumidifier can be a great purchase, nowadays they are relatively cheap, readily available and don’t require a labour-intensive set-up. Running a dehumidifier is also easy albeit the usual cost increase on energy bills and can help reduce the amount of dust mites in your home as well as removing excess moisture.

However, if your home is suffering from streaming windows, water stains, sodden surfaces and walls, any wood in the home is soft to the touch, there’s severe mould and an unpleasant musty smell, then the problem has escalated too far past the abilities of a dehumidifier. 

If you find yourself in this situation you should locate the source of the water, you may have a leak in the window, roof or a crack in the wall. Furthermore, you will need to check the gutters aren’t clogged, your washing machine and/or tumble dryer is properly vented to the outside and that your home has undergone a thorough damp-proofing course.

Afterwards you will need to assess if your home has enough adequate ventilation, it would be redundant to go through all of the steps above, purchase a dehumidifier to find the moisture just builds up again rapidly as the dehumidifier isn’t powerful enough to compensate for poor ventilation. 

Of course, certain rooms are worse culprits for high humidity and large amounts of moisture, for example bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. There should always be an extractor fan in rooms such as these and they should be  switched on before cooking, bathing or showering and left on for a short period of time after usage. 

Additionally, you need to be aware of the extra steps needed when owning a dehumidifier. 

You should vacuum before using a dehumidifier, so that it doesn't spread dust around the room or clog up the dust filter. This is particularly important if you suffer from allergies.
The area of your home where you position your dehumidifier is also very important.   You'd probably rather your dehumidifier was tucked out of sight. But you should position it away from walls, furniture and curtains so that air can circulate around it, and it can remove more moisture from the air. 
You will need to continually empty the water tank after usage. 
You will also need to wipe down the dehumidifier with a cloth, so that you don't get mould and mildew from water that's been left stagnant.
Double check that any possessions (such a guitars) in the room don’t require to be stored at a certain humidity level as of course the dehumidifier will affect this. You actually don’t want a home with dry air either. 
Dehumidifiers blow out warm air from the back of the unit, whilst this maybe a perk in the winter during the summer it could result in excess overbearing heat. The machine would also be needed throughout seasons; winter to combat damp but summer to cut down on pollen.
Usually cause an increase in energy costs.
In comparison installing a whole-house ventilation system may seem a lot more daunting than buying a dehumidifier but the benefits far outweigh the initial scepticism. Not only does a whole house ventilation solution do everything a dehumidifier does, it also doesn't come with any of the cons that a dehumidifier has. 
It doesn't need to be emptied or cleaned.
Won't take up any room.
Can reduce energy costs.
Comes with a warranty.
Low noise level and cleverly positioned so causes little to no disruption to everyday life.
Reduces radon gas, eliminates condensation and prevents mould.
Has an ISO Course 65% (G5) filter to stop pollen/dust coming into the property, so maintains the benefits of good air quality in your home throughout the year, season to season.
Indoor air quality may not be high on your list of concerns. Most people don't associate health problems with the air in their homes and think, 'I'm just prone to headaches,' or 'my nose is always stuffy.' Yet, 81% of people are at risk of respiratory problems or dermatological conditions due to the air in their homes. There can be up to 900 toxins polluting the quality of our indoor air. These indoor air pollutants can have serious long-term health effects on our bodies. We know there is a direct correlation between smoking and health effects like heart disease, however indoor pollution can also cause respiratory problems. 

Whole house ventilation is the best way to ensure the incoming air that comes into your property is fresh and filtered. The installation of a whole house ventilation unit compared to a dehumidifier or air purifier will help reduce exposure and bring outdoor air in, filtering it simultaneously throughout, and improve indoor air quality. We have a range of ventilation solutions to suit any property and any ventilation need, from extractor fans to positive input ventilation and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. We also offer a free home survey so we can properly asses your properties issues and offer a thorough assessment.