Almost everyone has used a humidifier in their home at one point or another, because they're commonly used when people are sick. But, most people haven't ever had much use for a dehumidifier… or so they've thought. If you have an area of your home that seems to stay damp, a dehumidifier can help prevent it from becoming moldy by reducing moisture levels and keeping the air dry. This makes it difficult for mold spores to thrive or spread throughout your house.
What is Mold?
Mold is a type of fungus that can grow in damp, dark environments. It’s found both indoors and outdoors, but it thrives in moist areas such as bathrooms, basements, attics, and crawl spaces. It reproduces by releasing spores into the air, which then settle on surfaces where they can begin to grow if conditions are right. Mold spores can lay dormant for a long time and begin to grow long after the mold that produced them has been killed.
Can High Humidity Can Cause Mold Growth?
High humidity is one of the most common causes of mold growth. Humidity levels above 60% create an environment that encourages mold spores to thrive and reproduce. A direct contributor to high humidity is poor ventilation, because it traps moisture inside the space and another large contributor is plumbing leaks, which create moisture inside the space.
Dehumidifiers effectively reduce humidity levels in your home and prevent mold spores from getting the moisture they need to grow.
Benefits of Using a Dehumidifier
Dehumidifiers serve as a multifaceted tool in maintaining a comfortable and healthy home environment, offering several benefits beyond just mold prevention. For starters, they play a significant role in decreasing allergy symptoms. By reducing the humidity levels in your home, dehumidifiers create conditions less favorable for mold growth, thereby minimizing the presence of mold spores in the air that could trigger allergic reactions.
Another advantage of maintaining a drier atmosphere is the prevention of musty odors, which are particularly common in naturally damp spaces like laundry rooms. Without the excess moisture, your laundry room remains fresher and devoid of the persistent, unpleasant damp smell.
Furthermore, dehumidifiers can expedite the air-drying process for laundry. In a controlled, less humid environment, clothes dry more quickly, saving you time and reducing the lingering moisture that could contribute to a humid atmosphere.
In the unfortunate event of flooding, a dehumidifier becomes an invaluable asset in speeding up the drying process of the affected space, reducing the potential for water damage and secondary effects such as mold growth.
Interestingly, dehumidifiers also contribute to pest control. Many household pests, including ants and roaches, are drawn to moist environments—not just for water but also as a breeding ground. By stripping away this allure with a dehumidifier, your home becomes less inviting to these unwelcome guests.
Lastly, certain dehumidifiers are equipped with filters, enhancing the quality of indoor air. These filters capture particulates such as dust mites and mold spores as air circulates through the device, contributing to cleaner, healthier air within your living spaces. Thus, dehumidifiers are not just about regulating moisture—they're about fostering an overall better quality of life at home.
What Type of Dehumidifier Should I Use for Mold?
There are two different types of dehumidifiers that you can use in your home to help get rid of mold, but which one you choose depends on your situation.
Refrigerant dehumidifiers are the oldest type of dehumidifier and are the type that most people are familiar with. They operate by pulling in damp air, running it over a refrigerator coil, and as a result, the moisture is removed from the air. After the air is dry, it's heated back to room temperature using a warm coil before it's blown back into the room.
There are a few benefits to using refrigerant dehumidifiers:
- They're best in warm climates: These work best when the temperature in a room is 60 degrees or warmer
- They're more energy efficient: You'll spend less money running a refrigerant dehumidifier
- They're cheaper: They're cheaper to buy and are available in whole house size units or small units designed only to be used in a single room
- They don't warm the room: Desiccant dehumidifiers can heat the room up by several degrees, while refrigerant dehumidifiers heat the room extremely little. If you need the temperature in a room to stay close to the same, use a refrigerant dehumidifier.
Dessicant dehumidifiers work by using a desiccant wheel (a desiccant is a drying agent) that spins and comes in contact with the air. As it does, it absorbs moisture and releases dry air back into the room. There are a few benefits to using a desiccant dehumidifier and we'll cover those here:
- They're quieter: Because a compressor isn't involved in its operation, it's quieter than a refrigerant dehumidifier.
- They warm the room: They can warm a room up to 5 degrees or so.
- They're lower maintenance: They don't use refrigerant, so they don't have to be serviced often.
- They work in the cold: Dessicant dehumidifiers can do the job regardless of the temperature of the room they're in.
- They last longer: Because they have few moving parts, no refrigerant necessary, and don't have a compressor, their mechanical life is significantly longer.
There are several types of dehumidifiers available on the market today, including portable units that sit on the floor or countertop, whole-house systems that attach directly to your HVAC system, basement models designed specifically for basements, and commercial grade models designed for larger spaces such as warehouses or factories. Each type has its own advantages, so it is important to research each one so you can make the decision that's right for your situation, whether it's residential, commercial, or industrial.
Does a dehumidifier help with mold?
Yes, a dehumidifier can help with mold, but it doesn't remove it from the environment. Mold growth is caused by moisture and humidity in the air, so reducing these levels can reduce or even prevent mold from growing.
Dehumidifiers reduce the risk of mold by removing excess moisture from the air, which reduces the chances of mold forming. However, it is important to note that dehumidifiers are not a substitute for proper cleaning and maintenance.
While they can be useful at helping prevent a humid environment that fosters mold growth, they're worthless if you allow other factors to contribute to mold, such as leaving wet towels on the floor against the wall or constantly allowing the kids to splash water on every surface in the bathroom.
What's better for mold air purifier or dehumidifier?
When it comes to mold remediation, both air purifiers and dehumidifiers can be effective tools. Air purifiers are designed to remove airborne particles such as mold spores from the air, while dehumidifiers reduce humidity levels in the home, preventing new mold growth.
Depending on the severity of your water damage or mold problem, you may need an air purifier and a dehumidifier for best results. Ultimately, when you have a large mold problem, consulting with a professional water damage restoration and mold remediation contractor is recommended so that they can recommend the most appropriate solution for your needs.
Mold growth in the home can be a serious issue, but with proper prevention and maintenance, it can be avoided. A properly placed dehumidifier in your home can help prevent costly repairs due to mold.
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