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How Does a Dehumidifier Work?

We expect our air conditioners to keep us comfortable during the summer months despite the sweltering heat. While these systems provide cool air on a regular basis, they might not always be able to keep up with the high humidity levels inside our homes.

High humidity can happen for many reasons. Taking a hot shower, boiling water on the stove, and other small daily tasks can introduce an excessive amount of water to the air inside our homes. Fortunately, dehumidifiers can help combat extreme humidity levels once and for all. But how does a dehumidifier work?

Although dehumidifiers have a fairly straightforward job, it’s important to note that there are various types of these devices on the market. Each of these dehumidifiers has a slightly different way of achieving the same goal.

So, what does a dehumidifier do? Let’s discuss that in more detail below.

What Does a Dehumidifier Do?

Simply put, a dehumidifier removes moisture from the air. The device will run until it has achieved an ideal humidity level. When you reduce the humidity inside your home, you can lower the chances for mold growth and the appearance of dust mites, among other benefits.

What Is the Ideal Humidity Level in a Home?

All-in-all, you’ll want to aim for a relative humidity level of 30 to 50 percent. In our region, it’s best to stick closer to 40 percent or lower since anything above the 50 percent mark could potentially lead to mold growth.

Additionally, anything lower than 30 percent can create excessively dry air — which can be just as harmful and uncomfortable as humid air. Having a dry home can cause various health problems, including eye irritation, sinus infections, and a sore throat.

Now that you know what they do and what humidity levels to reach for, you’re probably still wondering how exactly a dehumidifier works. Let’s go over this in more detail.

How Do Dehumidifiers Work?

There are three common types of dehumidifiers: desiccant, refrigerant, and whole-house. 

Desiccant dehumidifiers utilize a substance called “desiccant” that pulls moisture out of the air. This is ideal for colder climates since it functions well in cooler temperatures.

Refrigerant dehumidifiers are appropriately named, as they work very similarly to refrigerators. These devices will use an evaporator coil or cool metal plate to condense water vapor.

While these humidifiers can be excellent for smaller spaces, your DC air conditioning and heating technicians will recommend installing a whole-home system for a comprehensive solution.

Whole-Home Dehumidifiers

So, how does a whole home dehumidifier work? These devices are installed into your HVAC system, which means they will work side-by-side with your air conditioning unit. When your indoor humidity rises above the ideal levels, they’ll immediately start removing the moisture from the warm, humid air. These dehumidifiers allow you to control the moisture levels all throughout your home, including inside the crawl space and basement.

Does a dehumidifier work when your home is at an ideal humidity level? No — these systems will only work when necessary, so you won’t waste any energy running your dehumidifier for no reason.

Is a Dehumidifier Worth It?

When it comes down to it, a whole house dehumidifier is worth it for many homeowners simply because of the comfort it provides. Instead of dealing with excessive moisture inside your home, you can rest assured knowing your dehumidifier is on duty 24 hours a day to help you reach ideal humidity levels.

These devices can also be excellent at alleviating allergy and asthma symptoms. What does a dehumidifier do when you’re feeling sick? Essentially, they reduce the amount of mold, mildew, and dust circulating throughout your home. This can help you breathe easier and feel better.

What does a dehumidifier do for your energy costs? They can actually help you save money on your utility bills, believe it or not. These devices, which include but aren’t limited to ENERGY STAR®-certified brands, can help your air conditioner run more efficiently. When your AC doesn’t have to work as hard to cool your home, you’ll waste less energy.

Additional Ways To Lower Humidity

While dehumidifiers are excellent at balancing humidity levels, you might be wondering if there are other ways to keep your home feeling comfortable and humidity-free. For starters, you’ll want to make sure that you are using the vent in your bathroom and the exhaust fan in your kitchen. The last thing you want is for hot steam to make the humidity in your home even worse.

It’s also a good idea to take cooler or shorter showers. While this might not seem like an ideal solution, it can help limit the amount of moisture in the air. Even the smallest steps, such as this one, will help make a difference in the long run.

Contact Us for Your Indoor Air Quality & Comfort Needs

How does a dehumidifier work? As we discussed above at length, the answer to this question can have various answers. The three most common types of dehumidifiers work in different ways to complete the same job.

If you’re interested in installing a whole-home dehumidifier, turn to Magnolia Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. We can provide everything from indoor air quality solutions, including air purifiers, to an HVAC installation in Washington, DC, and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to see how we can improve your family’s comfort!