Can A Dehumidifier Stop Condensation (and Remove)?

Condensation build up, especially on the inside of windows, can be an annoying problem to deal with, and if not sorted it can provide an environment for mold to grow.

Dehumidifiers can help greatly with condensation. Running a dehumidifier to lower the relative humidity level of the air in a home by removing excess moisture can help prevent condensation buildup, such as on windows overnight. A dehumidifier may not totally eliminate condensation, however.

We regularly use our dehumidifier during the wetter and colder months to help prevent condensation buildup on windows in our home, which used to lead to excessive mold growth before buying our dehumidifier.

Window Condensation
The condensation we used to have to deal with on our windows before buying a dehumidifier

If you’re experiencing condensation inside your home and are looking for ways to stop it, read on. We explain why you have condensation, how a dehumidifier may help, and other ways you can prevent and remove condensation.

What Causes Condensation?

Condensation forms when warm air meets a cool surface.

You can see it on drinking glasses, the inside of car and house windows, on interior walls, and on eyeglasses when you are breathing outside on a cold day.

There are several reasons you might be seeing it inside your home, especially in the winter.

Central Heating Is Running

It is common with modern thermostats to set different temperatures for different times of the day.

When you are not home, you might lower the temperature so you aren’t wasting heat on an empty house. Perhaps you prefer a colder temperature when you sleep. However, you need to remember that not only does the air get colder but all the surfaces in your house do as well.

When the heat turns on after a cold period, the warm air hits those cold surfaces, and condensation forms.

You may notice that not only is there condensation on surfaces, but your home may actually feel damper as a result. Keeping the home at a warmer temperature will keep the air dryer and prevent condensation.

Moisture In The Air

The ideal relative humidity level in a home is stated to be around 30-50%.

This is where people feel most comfortable. It’s not too sticky and you won’t experience electric shock every time you touch the light switch. When the humidity level rises above 60%, your home can start to feel more uncomfortable.

This is also the level that condensation begins to form, and mold can start to grow.

The activities we do in our home can increase the moisture in the air, whether it is doing laundry, cooking, or showering. Even our breathing can increase the amount of humidity in our home. The higher the humidity level, the more likely you are to experience condensation.

Dehumidifier Drying Washing
A dehumidifier is vital when we dry our clothes indoors to help prevent condensation

Condensation Can Cause Deeper Damage

If you see condensation on the inside of your window, you may be tempted to wipe it away and think that it’s taken care of.

However, you should take steps to prevent condensation from occurring as it can lead to larger problems that can be expensive to fix, including:

  • Damage to windows, floors, and walls: When there is enough condensation on a window or wall, water droplets can form. These droplets can accumulate on your windowsills and floors, leading to damage and rot. If your walls are damp, the drywall or plaster can rot and will need to be replaced.
  • Mold and Mildew: Mold and mildew love moisture and if the damp and condensation are left long enough, they will start growing. This can lead to health problems such as respiratory and sinus illnesses. Any mold that is left unchecked is a hazard that can also make it hard to sell your home.

Taking care of condensation before it gets too bad will save you a lot of money and energy than repairing damaged floors or having mold removed would.

A Dehumidifier Removes Humidity

The first step in preventing condensation inside your home is to get a dehumidifier.

A dehumidifier removes excess moisture from the air, keeping the humidity level at the ideal level stated in the owner’s manual for your dehumidifier.

Keeping the air dryer will go a long way to eliminating condensation.

How Does A Dehumidifier Work?

A dehumidifier works by drawing warm air inside with a fan.

For refrigerant dehumidifiers, this air moves over refrigerated coils, creating condensation, which is collected in a tank. The cooler, dryer air is blown out of the dehumidifier into the room.

For desiccant dehumidifiers (like the one we own and use), a desiccant wheel filled with silica gel absorbs moisture as the air goes through, and warm air is blown out into the room.

Dehumidifier Plugged In
Our desiccant dehumidifier

Most dehumidifiers are programmable, and you can set your preferred humidity level.

It’s important not to let your home get too dry, as that can cause skin and sinus problems, building materials to shrink, and an increase in static electricity.

Will A Dehumidifier Prevent Condensation On Windows?

A dehumidifier can often prevent severe condensation from forming on windows, depending on the climate. A dehumidifier may not be able to fully prevent condensation on windows as the air would need to be at a very low humidity and therefore too dry.

Our own dehumidifier does a great job at preventing condensation on our windows on cold winter mornings just by bring the house humidity down to recommended levels.

Do Dehumidifiers Reduce Condensation?

Dehumidifiers primarily work to prevent condensation from forming in the first place but may be able to reduce condensation once formed by leaving the dehumidifier on throughout the day.

If we do have condensation form in our home then we’ll run the dehumidifier until it’s gone.

Other Ways To Prevent Condensation

A dehumidifier is an excellent way to remove moisture in the air and prevent condensation, but there are other steps you can take to help.

Some of these are tweaks to your daily routines and others are changes you can make to your property.

Install A New HVAC System

Air conditioners not only cool the air in the summer, they also remove moisture from the air.

HVAC units have a 12-15 year lifespan and as they age, they work less efficiently. If your system is reaching the end of its life and you have noticed an increase in the humidity levels in your home, installing a new system could improve your home’s humidity levels.

Keep Bathroom And Kitchen Doors Closed

A lot of the moisture in your air comes from daily activities like cooking and showering.

If possible, keep your bathroom and kitchen doors closed to keep the humid air in that space.

Run an exhaust fan to remove the air quickly. If you don’t have a kitchen door, run the exhaust fan and cover pots to minimize the steam getting into the air. Opening a window can also help.

Check Your Windows

If your windows are not properly sealed, then they could be letting in cold, damp air that is causing dampness and condensation inside your home.

It could even let in rain that can cause damage. Inspect your windows and window frames for missing sealant. Alternatively, you can have a window professional inspect and make any necessary repairs.

Window Mold
Installing double glazing in our home helped with condensation and mold but a dehumidifier was still required to put a stop to it

Examine Laundry Vents

Doing laundry is another source of humidity in the air. As the dryer dries your clothes, steam is created which is vented outside. If the vent is blocked or not installed correctly, that steam can become trapped inside.

Additionally, if you hang dry your clothes, you should always dry them outside, especially in the winter when the heat is on.

Start With The Simple Fixes First

We understand that not everyone is able to install a new HVAC unit or fix their windows.

However, making small changes and getting a dehumidifier won’t break the bank and are effective ways of controlling humidity and condensation. When your budget allows for it, though, you should investigate the more expensive fixes as they will be worth it in the long run.

Condensation Is Manageable

When you see condensation, you are right to be concerned. As you now know, left unchecked condensation can cause damage to your home. Luckily, condensation is manageable.

Your first line of defense should be a dehumidifier but following our other suggestions will help lower the levels of humidity in your home, which is the main culprit of condensation.

Once you’ve taken care of the underlying reason for the condensation, whether it is too steamy showers or a larger problem like leaky windows, the dehumidifier can be used to keep the humidity at an ideal level. This will make sure you are more comfortable at home and don’t need to worry about condensation any longer.

Further Reading

Can A Dehumidifier Prevent Mold?

Does A Dehumidifier Need To Be On All The Time?

Do Dehumidifiers Make Distilled Water?

Can A Dehumidifier Sit On Carpet?