Guides

How to Use a Dehumidifier

In our line of work, we tend to speak to a lot of people who are looking to buy dehumidifiers for their homes or workplaces.

As well as asking what kind of dehumidifiers are best for their properties, we tend to get a lot of questions about how to use and get the most out of dehumidifiers.

With these questions in mind, as well as many others, this article will discuss how people can use dehumidifiers in their homes and how they can get the most out of their units.

So…

How do you use a dehumidifier?

Once that you’ve chosen the right kind of dehumidifier for your home, learning how to operate it properly can be a little daunting and overwhelming, but once you know the basics, getting the most out of your dehumidifier is easy.

Placement

When learning how to use your dehumidifier, placing it in the correct location in a room is important.

If your dehumidifier happens to have an air discharge on the top of the unit, you should be free to place it against a wall. For machines that push air out of the side, you’ll need to ensure that the unit has plenty of room around it.

It’s important to remember that a dehumidifier works better when the air around it is able to circulate.

Although many people prefer to have their dehumidifiers tucked away in a corner of the room, remember to have about six to 12 inches of space around all sides of the unit.

Bathrooms

If you’re using a dehumidifier for use in the bathroom, you’re probably well aware that as soon as you’ve had a bath or shower, a lot of humidity is released into the room.

Although some bathrooms will have exhaust fans installed, which will help the humidity to dissipate, this isn’t always the case.

A portable dehumidifier is, therefore, a great way to help lower levels of humidity after a bath or shower.

Just remember that using any electrical equipment in a bathroom can be risky, so consider placing the dehumidifier in the doorway, with the unit being powered from a socket located in the hallway or another room.

Dehumidifier placement in the bathroom

Kitchens

Another area of the room where you might find a lot of condensation and humidity is the kitchen, especially when there is a lot of cooking or cleaning taking place.

Many kitchens will, of course, have kitchen hood filters to help keep humidity down, but a well-placed dehumidifier in a kitchen can also help lower the risk of mold and condensation while the kitchen is not in use.

Dehumidifier placement in your kitchen

Dehumidifier placement in your kitchen

Basements

One of the main rooms that people tend to use dehumidifiers is in basements, where there is often a lot of humidity.

If you’re using a dehumidifier for a basement, or even a garage, where the room temperature is likely to be below 59ºF, it’s important to remember that a desiccant dehumidifier works best in these types of environments.

This is because compressor dehumidifiers need the air to be at least 59ºF so that the internal cooling coils do not freeze.

As basements with high levels of humidity tend to smell quite bad, it’s worth noting that you can purchase dehumidifiers with carbon filters that help to combat bad basement odours.

These can also help remove excess levels of dust.

In a child’s room

It is often the case that a parent will want the most for their child, toddler, or baby, and it’s important to know whether a dehumidifier is suitable for a child’s room.

As we all know, humid nights cause restless sleep, and it is especially important that babies and toddlers enjoy good quality sleep.

If you suspect that your child’s room has mold growing in it, it’s important that you deal with the situation as soon as possible as mold can produce spores which can travel to a child’s lungs; causing breathing difficulties.

Running a dehumidifier through the day, therefore, for around six to twelve hours (depending on the levels of humidity being experience), is a sure way of avoiding mold and lowering humidity levels.

Be sure to carry out extensive research if you are buying a dehumidifier for a child’s room so that you know that you have the best and safest possible device to deal with the issue.

Basic instructions for placement in any kind of room

No matter what kind of room you plan on using your dehumidifier in, there are a few basic rules and considerations that you’ll want to follow.

The first is ensuring that the windows and doors are closed in the room while the dehumidifier is working.

If you place the unit in the center of the room, it means that you’ll be able to use it more effectively, as the air will be able to circulate around it. As mentioned before however, if the unit discharges air from the top of its body, then it is generally okay to place it against a wall.

If the dehumidifier is operating in a particularly large room, it’s important to place the unit as close to the source of moisture as possible.

Pay attention to dust in the room, if there are any sources of dust, such as around woodworking equipment, it’s important to remember that high levels of air particles can stop a dehumidifier from working properly.

Dehumidifier placement - middle of the room

Operation

Although it might sound boring, it’s important to always read the owner’s manual on a dehumidifier so that you are able to measure the humidity by a hygrometer.

Remember that the ideal humidity in a home should be around 45%, although this can vary depending on the season. That said, if you find the humidity levelling out above the mid-fifties, you risk issues with mold.

Once that you have read and understood the instructions, plug in the dehumidifier and adjust the settings according to the directions given and allow the unit to experiment through its cycles.

The first few days of use are likely to offer the most moisture removal.

Maintaining a dehumidifier for optimal operation

It’s important to remember that overall, dehumidifiers tend to be low maintenance machines, although there are a range of considerations to keep in mind so that you can enjoy maximum efficiency.

Adjusting the humidistat cleverly

Every dehumidifier on the market should feature a humidistat, which is an important device that controls the amount of moisture that a dehumidifier removes from the surrounding environment.

If you accidentally set your desired humidity too low, it means that the unit will work overtime and will remove too much moisture from the air. Not only is this incredibly inefficient, but it will also inflate your energy bills.

On the other hand, however, setting the humidity too high will end up leaving too much moisture in the air and will not solve the humidity issues that you are experiencing in the room.

You can buy a hygrometer from the drugstore or a DIY shop to help provide you with an accurate reading of the room’s relative humidity level.

Replacing the filter

Most dehumidifiers have air filters installed to help to remove dust particles and other allergens from an indoor environment.

The filter also helps to protect the internal components of the dehumidifier and allows it to work at an efficient level on a day to day basis.

By reading the owner’s manual, you will be able to find out about when you should replace your dehumidifier’s air filter for the best possible performance.

It’s worth noting that some dehumidifiers come with washable features and the owner’s manual will provide you with information on the best time frames for cleaning individual parts.

Clean the water tank every now and again

Although frequently emptying your water tank ensures that the water does not stagnate, it does not, in fact, ensure a clean tank.

Without the occasional clean or disinfectant procedure, it can encourage the growth of both mold and mildew.

What’s more, this can actually be distributed by the dehumidifier, so monitor the cleanliness of the water tank and any debris that it might pick up.

Again, read the owner’s guide to ascertain when how often you should clean out the water tank, as it’s incredibly important to remember that airborne mold and mildew can cause significant health issues and respiratory problems.

It’s worth remembering that mold and bacteria only need basic elements for growth, which is often darkness (UV rays kill mold), moisture, a temperature of around 50ºF to 70ºF, and organic materials like dust and dirt.

You’ll also be able to tell if your dehumidifier is particularly dirty if it smells while in operation. A dirty dehumidifier will often smell a little like a “wet dog” or it may smell slightly sulphuric.

Regular water tank cleaning

Don’t short cycle a compressor dehumidifier

If you own a compressor dehumidifier, it’s important that you should avoid turning the machine off and on again in quick succession.

You should wait at least 10 minutes for the dehumidifier to turn back on so the time allows the pressure within the unit to equalize so it doesn’t damage the compressor.

Turning the machine on and off too quickly can actually cause the compressor to overheat.

What’s more, short-cycling the dehumidifier leads to the unit removing less moisture from the air.

To avoid this situation, if you haven’t already bought your dehumidifier, search for a unit that comes with an automatic start function to protect the compressor from damage.

Regularly inspect the condenser coils

As mentioned above, compressor dehumidifiers should be used in warmer temperatures.

If you do have to use a dehumidifier in a cooler room, ensure to regularly check for frost or ice build up on the coils.

If you find that the dehumidifier has a build up of ice, turn the unit off and unplug it so that you can safely access the coils — although you might not always be able to do this.

For those who can access the coils, consider warming up the room or place the unit in an elevated position to allow warmer air to interact with it.

You can also purchase dehumidifiers that come with defrost functions to avoid the issue of ice build up.

Such models turn themselves off automatically when ice is detected. When this happens, the fan within the unit will often be left running to help melt the build-up of frost.

Once it has completed this task, the unit will begin working again as normal.

Clean the air grilles

If your grilles and air vents become dirty, this can lead to a dehumidifier working poorly.

Once that a unit has completed a session, ensure to clean both the intake and output grilles using a vacuum brush attachment.

This will help clear blockages caused by dust and ensures both an efficient and a clean operation.

While we’re here, it’s also worth seeing if you can clean the fan blades while the machine is unplugged.

You can usually remove the fan cage using a screwdriver, so you can then wipe the blades down using a light disinfectant. Ensure that the blades are also clear of any debris, such as hair or dirt.

Again, use the vacuum brush attachment around the fan area to ensure that it is clear.

Once you’re done, reattach the cage, ensuring it is firmly in place before you operate the unit again.

Using the drainage option

If your dehumidifier comes with a drainage option, remember to place your hose carefully in a sink or tub so that it doesn’t fall out while the machine is in use.

Remember that the drain hose should not run above the drain fitting as this could flood your dehumidifier and check on it every now and again to ensure proper drainage.

Consider using twine or some tape to ensure that the hose is secured against the faucet and remember to keep it away from any electrical outlets or cords.

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