25 Apr Do Dehumidifiers Help With Mold? Tips from the Experts
Reducing Mold Using a Dehumidifier
When I bought my very first home, during the loan approval process, I had to take a home ownership course. The course highlighted many common home ownership maintenance tasks and ways to safeguard your property from environmental damages. One of the bigger issues that was discussed in the course was preventing mold in your home. After the course, I decided to do additional research on mold and how it can be possibly be prevented with the typical dehumidifier.
So, do dehumidifiers help with mold? Mold thrives in moist environments. Therefore, dehumidifiers will help prevent additional mold growth by reducing moisture in the air in your home. However, it’s nearly impossible to kill mold spores and remove mold completely from your home without professional assistance.
What Exactly is a Dehumidifier & What Are Its Benefits?
A dehumidifier is a portable device that removes moisture from the air. In doing so, it strives to decrease the dampness in your home. Optimal humidity levels in the home range between 30 – 60% to ensure comfort and health for the homeowners. You may be wondering, why does it matter if my house has high humidity?
High humidity levels in the home can allow allergens to overtake your home, which can include dust, mold, pet dander. For folks who are prone to suffer from the stuffy nose, itchy eyes or rashes from allergies, dehumidifiers can help reduce those symptoms by better managing the allergen levels in your home.
In addition to helping you feel your best, these handy devices also can provide greater protection for your personal property by protecting wooden items from too much moisture. Do you love your hardwood floors or your antique wooden heirloom from your great grand mother? Consider purchasing a dehumidifier!
How Exactly Can Dehumidifiers Help With Mold?
According to Healthline, a dehumidifier works by drawing warm air currents into its coils via a fan. The warm air contracts as it’s fed through the refrigerated coils of the machine, and condensation is left inside the dehumidifier. As the condensation collects, it falls into a storage tank attached to the dehumidifier. Cooler, drier air is then released into the air of your home.
Mold is a diverse number of fungal species that thrives in moist environments. Since dehumidifiers lower the moisture in the air, this helps prevent mold growth by making the air less appealing for the growth of new mold spores.
Signs You May Need A Dehumidifier
Are you a homeowner newbie like myself? Never fear, because I did some of the research for you. I remember as a child, my parents often would put a dehumidifier at certain times of the year. However, you never think to ask as a kid your parent’s reasoning behind their homeowner actions. Many homeowners choose to use a dehumidifier in the winter to combat the excess humidity that the HVAC system may create.
There are some observable signs in your home that signal the need to purchase a dehumidifier. If there is excessive moisture in the area, you may witness the following:
- Window and Patio Door Condensation: If you find fog on the glass of your window or patio doors, this could signal there is too much moisture in the air of your home. Moisture build-up in a window sill can encourage mold growth.
- Mold Spots on the Ceiling or in the Corner of Walls: These tend to appear the most in the bathrooms of a home
- Musty Smell or Odor
What Do I Need To Know Before Buying a Dehumidifier?
Even top-of-the-line dehumidifiers may not work at peak efficiency if there’s too much moisture that is seeping into your home. Before you even think about buying a dehumidifier, make sure you unclog your gutters and that your downspouts are draining water at least five feet away from your home.
In addition to moisture-proofing your home to the best of your ability, you should also consider noise levels. Dehumidifiers will make a noise while in operation. You would hate to make such a purchase and then not end up using the device because the product is driving you crazy.
So, where in your home would it make the most sense for you to place the product so it can help the most with moisture levels, while also not disrupting the noise levels in your home? According to Consumer Report, most of the dehumidifiers reviewed ranged from 58 – 67 decibels. For reference, normal conversation is around 60 decibels and a standard washer is about 70 decibels.
How Do I Choose the Right Dehumidifier for My Home?
If you don’t have a dehumidifier for your home and you are considering the purchase of such a device, it may be helpful to first use a hygrometer to establish a baseline of humidity levels and see where levels currently stand in your home. Buying a dehumidifier will depend on that number, as well as taking into account the humidity levels in the region of the country in which you live.
As a rule of thumb, it’s usually a good idea to have a dehumidifier in the higher moisture producing rooms of your home. These often include the basement, bathroom, or kitchen. Many homeowners find mold in their showers as this is often the most humid area of the home.
Dehumidifiers are made for smaller rooms, as well as for entire houses. Generally, the smaller models absorb around 30 pints per day and the larger models will absorb 90 pints of water per day.
We recommend checking out Consumer Reports to determine what type of model best works for your home size and your local humidity levels. This website rates several models of dehumidifiers by capacity levels, the area of the home covered, and types of features on the product. More popular brands, such as GE, Honeywell and HomeLabs are also reviewed.
Do Air Purifiers Address Mold Issues Better Than Dehumidifiers?
The common consumer tends to confuse air purifiers with dehumidifiers. However, these two devices have several key differences. Both air purifiers and dehumidifiers minimize allergens within your home. Air purifiers clean the air by filtering it. The dehumidifier, on the other hand, will pull in moisture and lowering humidity levels. Air purifiers will trap harmful allergens in the filters, such as bacteria, dust, pollen, dander and mold spores.
Air purifiers with HEPA filters can trap up to 99% of airborne contaminants. However, not even these strong filters can remove mold. Mold is so persistent, mold spores will even grow in the HEPA filters. However, some specialized air purifiers can actually fry mold growth. Yes, you read that right, fry the mold. There are air purifiers with strong UV light, and according to the EPA, UV light can remove airborne mold spores by killing them.
Both air purifiers and dehumidifiers play important roles in mold maintenance in your home. The dehumidifier will lower moisture in the air and make the environment not attractive for mold growth, and if mold has already formed, the air purifiers with UV light can help kill the growth.
How common is mold in buildings? Mold is a major pest, and very common for property owners to have to deal with. It will grow in places that are more prone to have heavier moisture, such as growing from leaky roofs or where there has been a history of flooding. Mold also grows well on paper products, ceiling tiles and wooden surfaces.
How do I test for mold in my home? Testing for mold is relatively easy, as you can purchase a mold test kit and collect samples from strategic locations in your home. If your home unfortunately returns as positive, you can usually send the sample to a lab to determine the type of mold in your home and that way, you can research proper ways of addressing the situation.
However, the United States Environmental Protection Agency does not endorse any at-home test kit. Instead, it’s recommended that homeowners call a local professional business to inspect the possible mold growth. Some Broken Arrow pest control professionals even offer this service!
Where are common spots for mold to grow? It’s recommended that property owners routinely check the following areas to spot mold growth: behind the refrigerator, below sinks, in ventilation ducts, under carpeting (especially if it has a history of flooding). However, you may find mold in areas that are not typical. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for pesky mold as you clean and maintain every area of your home.
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