Why Your Dehumidifier Won't Work

 But really, this is an article that considers what exactly it takes to bring down the humidity of a room.

A less humid room has several benefits

The presence of water whether on liquid or vapor form, has a lot of effects some bad. For this reason, it’s good to keep humidity down. Here are just some reasons for wanting low-humidity rooms:

  • Prevents molds and mildews: Fungi (which mold and mildew are) need a humid environment to thrive. Some of these are potentially hazardous to our health, apart from looking very unsightly.
  • Less sweating: Remember that what causes more sweating is a combination of high temperatures and high humidity.
  • Drying clothes: Drying takes longer in more humid environments. Think of it as the air around already having a lot of moisture and it is less likely to take moisture from clothes.
  • Easier to cool: Finally, air conditioners use less power to cool a less humid room. This is basically because a big part of the air conditioning process is removing excess water.

Water with a big surface area or that is agitated will raise humidity

So what causes humidity? Basically, any water that is exposed to the air will have a tendency to evaporate, especially at high temperatures. And this is exacerbated when there is a big water surface area exposed to the air. This is why an aquarium without a cover in a room is likely to make the room humid. This is the same reason why airing clothes to dry is more effective when they are spaced out. In the bathroom, big offenders are long baths, and even that wet bathroom floor where water is allowed to settle without going into the drain. You'll also want to check for pipe or roof leaks, anything that introduces water constantly into the house. Of course, rain outside will spread water all over a place, hence, even after a shower has passed, any water that settles will contribute to raising the humidity. Proximity to the beach, a river, or any creeks will also cause humidity to increase. Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that water agitation also increases humidity. This is how some humidifiers work by agitating the water by swirling it around. An overhead pump in an aquarium, or a fountain, also raise humidity. Even having plants, by virtue of having to water them regularly, are a source of humidity.

Address any sources of moisture before considering a dehumidifier

And this is why Basta sa Bahay suggests that even before considering buying a dehumidifier, you have to address any sources of humidity, especially constant ones first. Consider the following situations

  • If you live by a river, beach or creek, you won’t be able to reduce humidity unless you can seal off your rooms.
  • If you have any exposed water in containers, consider putting a cover. Aquarium hobbyists for example have glass covers so that even if some water evaporates, it condenses on the cover and drips back down to the aquarium. 
  • In bathrooms, you can consider taking shorter baths, and making sure water drains well after using a bathroom. If it helps, use a water broom to push water down the drain. It may even help that you keep toilet lids down, and if you collect water for washing clothes, get wash bins with covers.
  • Don’t keep water fountains in rooms that you want to dehumidify
  • Air wet clothes in open spaces so that the humid air can disperse.
And in general, good ventilation, especially the type that will push humid air outside the house will help.

If a source of a lot of moisture is still present, humidity will go back up again

To be clear, dehumidifiers really work. Water condenses in the coils of dehumidifiers, and this water now in liquid form, drops into the tank. There’s no clearer proof than how you have to drain the water that a dehumidifier has collected. However, if your source of humidity is still present in the room, all you will have done is transfer water from your source into your dehumidifier, and there’s no end until your source gets depleted. You will have wasted electricity all the while.

The best way to think of it is in terms of a simplistic version of equilibrium. With a good source of humidity, be that exposed moisture present, a sealed room will reach a certain humidity, let’s say 70% to 80%, and as long as nothing changes (temperature or air pressure don’t change), it will more or less stay at that level as if it were in equilibrium. This means that if you have a dehumidifier take some of the moisture out and into its tank, the air will take moisture from the source almost as if it were trying to reach the same equilibrium humidity. This is because, as humidity goes down, evaporation is more likely (think of it as the air now having available “space” for water vapor).

Final Thoughts

So in summary, this is nothing about how dehumidifiers do not work, as much as it is about addressing the reasons why a room is humid. You won't get far if you don't address these first.

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