Does My Home Need a Dehumidifier?
We all know how damaging moisture can be for your home. Diligent home owners regularly check their gutters to make sure they’re effectively directing water away from their home, look for signs that water is getting in in the basement, and keep an eye out for water getting in around their windows. But a source of moisture that often gets overlooked is the moisture in the air.
It’s very important to maintain appropriate levels of humidity in your home. Not having enough moisture in the air can make you very uncomfortable and too much humidity can foster mold and mildew growth and damage wooden floors and other wooden objects in your home.
So, how do you know if your home has an appropriate level of humidity? A hygrometer measures the level of moisture in the air and can be purchased quite inexpensively at hardware stores or online. Ideally, your home’s humidity should be under 60% during the summer months and between 25% and 40% during the winter.
You don’t need to have a hygrometer to see the signs of excessive humidity around your house, though. First of all, you might notice a musty smell or spots of mold forming on ceilings or walls. Since musty smells are a sign of mold, you’ll want to be sure you find where it’s coming from and make sure it gets taken care of. When you notice spots of mold on a wall or ceiling, make sure to clean the area with a cleaner that will inhibit mold re-growth. A solution of equal parts white vinegar and water can do the trick. Make sure you repaint the area using a primer and paint designed to resist mold and mildew.
If you have hardwood floors or wooden doors or windows, excessive humidity can cause them to warp, buckle, or become creaky. Does your basement tend to flood? A dehumidifier can be helpful in removing moisture from the air in your basement, but just remember you still have to address the root cause of how water is getting into your basement.
Your windows can also be very good at letting you know when there’s too much humidity in your home. Is there frequently condensation on the interior pane of glass of your window? While it’s very common for condensation to form on windows if you’re doing something like taking a shower or cooking, having condensation on your windows all the time is a telltale sign of too much humidity. If you have wood windows, all that condensation puts you at a higher risk of wood rot. If you have vinyl replacement windows, you won’t have to worry about wood rot, but you’ll still have to address your home’s humidity levels.
Whole-house dehumidifiers can be helpful if you live in a very humid climate, but In many cases, people who could benefit from a dehumidifier only need one in specific rooms like bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and laundry rooms. Portable dehumidifiers work great in these situations and only cost a few hundred dollars. Many types of portable dehumidifiers have sensors that will automatically shut it off if its water tank gets full, so you won’t have to worry about your dehumidifier overflowing if you aren’t there to shut it off. You might not even need to run your dehumidifier at all times. For example, portable dehumidifiers are very popular to have in bathrooms that don’t have exhaust fans or windows. Since people aren’t taking showers around the clock, the dehumidifier would only have to be run while people are showering and for a little while afterward.
If your home has an air conditioner, you might think you don’t really need a dehumidifier since air conditioners also remove moisture from the air. This is true, but only to a certain extent. Although air conditioners can help with humidity, they typically aren’t effective at doing that until the temperature gets to be 80 degrees or higher. When temperatures are in the 70s, your air conditioner probably won’t be running enough to remove a lot of humidity from the air and a dehumidifier would be more effective.