Does A Dehumidifier Actually Work?

Many people have concerns about mold and allergies and how these things could be related to the environment in their home.

Condensation buildup within a home, leading to mold growth can be a sign that there’s excess moisture in the air that may need to be removed to prevent further issues.

A dehumidifier is an appliance that removes moisture from the air. A dehumidifier can help bring humidity to lower and more comfortable levels in the air of a house and should be a consideration when looking to deal with moisture issues or living in a humid climate.

Like all things a dehumidifier has limits.

It can remove moisture and create a drier environment, thus discouraging mold growth or the proliferation of certain allergens, but it cannot remove mold that has already grown.

Our dehumidifier works extremely well in lowering the humidity of our home, however.

We used to have big issues with condensation and mold but our desiccant dehumidifier made the situation much better.

Dehumidifier Plugged In
The dehumidifier we own and use

Our dehumidifier has also made drying our clothes a much quicker process.

Dehumidifier Drying Washing
A dehumidifier works great when helping to dry clothes faster

We discuss how well dehumidifiers work in more detail below.

What A Dehumidifier Actually Does

A dehumidifier is the opposite of a humidifier.

It takes moisture out of the air and, unlike a humidifier, creates a drier environment.

In the same way that you might want a humidifier if you live in a very dry and arid region, you might want a dehumidifier if you live in a very wet or humid region.

If you have a dehumidifier and use it properly, you can lower moisture in the air which can reduce the conditions for:

  • Mold growth
  • Dust mites
  • Certain insects

In addition to these things, a dehumidifier can have people who suffer from asthma by making the air easier to breathe.

A Dehumidifier And Mold Growth

Dehumidifiers can work very well in preventing mold from growing in the first place.

Mold needs the following in order to frow:

  • Organic food source
  • Airtight space or space with very little air exchange
  • Moisture
Window Mold
Before buying a dehumidifier we had mold problems

Unfortunately, mold has all the things it needs to grow readily available in the modern home. Most homes are painted with paint that is very low in harsh chemicals. This can mean that the materials in your home are ripe for mold to feast on.

Modern homes are also made to accommodate very light air exchange.

This is for the purpose of energy efficiency, which is great, but mold also loves this environment. All mold needs in most homes is the introduction of moisture on carpet or walls to have the perfect environment in which to grow.

If you have high humidity in your home, or even in certain rooms with extremely limited air exchange like a bathroom, then a dehumidifier can help lower moisture in that room and discourage the possibility of mold growth.

Our dehumidifier has done wonders to prevent mold growth in our home, as a result of preventing condensation on the windows every morning.

Window Condensation
A dehumidifier can help prevent condensation that can contribute to mold growth
Window Mold
Mold around our windows due to excess moisture in the air

Our article on preventing mold using a dehumidifier provides more information.

A Dehumidifier And Dust Mites

Dust mites are very small insects. In fact, they are microscopic so you cannot tell that they are present in your home. But they love to feed on dead skin that can be found anywhere dust accumulates (hence their name).

You will therefore often hear of dust mites being found in:

  • Furniture
  • Beds
  • Carpet

Dust mites do not bite, but you can be allergic to them, and as a result, they can cause sneezing, coughing, running nose, and a rash. Even though you cannot see dust mites, the very idea of a microscopic bug that lives in your bed is creepy to many people.

A dehumidifier can help with this.

Just as a dehumidifier cannot remove mold, neither can it remove dust mites. But when a dehumidifier lowers the humidity in the home, it can lower the potential for dust mites to live and procreate in a friendly environment.

Dust mites actually need humidity in order to live and be active. They are surviving and loving life if their environment has a 65% or higher relative humidity.

By removing moisture from the air, a dehumidifier lowers the relative humidity in a home thus creating an environment that discourages dust mite growth and survival.

A dehumidifier can work well in collecting a lot of dust

See our article on using a dehumidifier to help with dust for more information.

A Dehumidifier And Insects

There are certain other pests that are entirely too visible to the naked eye. Most people do not relish the thought of seeing a roach or a spider in their home and are willing to do what it takes to remove them and discourage them from coming back.

Often insects can proliferate around areas of high moisture. They love moldy spots in the home and high moisture goes hand in hand with that type of area.

If you have a dehumidifier lowering the humidity in your home you are discouraging the following insects from making an appearance:

  • Cockroaches
  • Spiders
  • SIlverfish

A Dehumidifier And Asthma

We’ve already seen that dehumidifiers can help with a host of problems that thrive on moisture.

One of those problems can also be asthma. Of course, asthma can be triggered by a number of things, including:

  • Mold
  • Allergies
  • High levels of moisture

A dehumidifier can help a person suffering from asthma both directly and indirectly. It can help indirectly by creating a low moisture environment where mold and other allergens are discouraged from growing.

But a dehumidifier can also help directly by lower moisture levels in general. If a person who suffers from asthma can breathe in air content that is drier, it can help reduce the symptoms of coughing and wheezing.

How Does A Dehumidifier Work?

A dehumidifier is a piece of equipment that works off of the principle of adsorption (not to be confused with absorption):

  • Adsorption is when a solid surface holds liquid onto that surface
  • Absorption, in this case, is when a solid absorbs or takes in liquid

There are dehumidifiers that work on the principle of absorption, but the best ones use adsorption, holding onto moisture and retaining it in a container or pumping it out through a tube.

Our own desiccant dehumidifier uses a spinning wheel of adsorption material to remove moisture from the air in our home and works extremely.

Dehumidifier Back
Our dehumidifier is the desiccant type and does a very good job at what it’s designed to do

Adsorption Is The Coolest Thing Since Refrigeration

The above statement is especially true given the fact that a dehumidifier can also use refrigeration to make adsorption happen.

Here’s how it works:

  • A dehumidifier uses a fan to pull in the humid, moisture-laden air
  • It draws the humid air across super cold colds in what is essentially a mini refrigerator
  • When the warm wet air comes into contact with the cold coils, the moisture in the air adsorbs onto the coils
  • Because the coils are not made to retain the moisture, it drips off them into a small receptacle that slowly builds up or is pumped out through a tube
  • Meanwhile, having shed its moisture, the cold air is passed through a condenser that heats it back up and sends it out into your home

The Limitations Of A Dehumidifier

In addition to the limitations mentioned previously in the article (namely that dehumidifiers do not remove mold, etc.), dehumidifiers also have other limitations:

  • Store-bought dehumidifiers work best in a small or enclosed room.
  • A dehumidifier will not dry out an area that has had severe water damage as from a busted or burst pipe.
  • A dehumidifier may not be able to lower relative humidity to a helpful point if there is a source of moisture or water incursion that has not been fixed.

A dehumidifier will therefore be able to do a very good job at what’s it’s designed for, which is to remove moisture from the air down to more comfortable levels.

However, the use of a dehumidifier won’t be a substitution for regular cleaning and prevention of excess moisture in a home in the first place.

Does A Dehumidifier Actually Work?

With the clever application of a cool principle and refrigeration, a dehumidifier can help lower the moisture content in the air in your home.

By lowering the relative humidity, a dehumidifier can help you create an unwelcoming environment for mold and pests both visible and invisible.

It is best to consider the limitations described on the dehumidifier that you purchase or are considering purchasing, as a dehumidifier won’t be able to solve all moisture problems.

If you follow the guidelines, you’ll be able to lower humidity in your home to comfortable levels.

Further Reading

Can A Dehumidifier Be Used As An Air Conditioner?

Can A Dehumidifier Act As An Air Purifier?

Can A Dehumidifier Stop Condensation?

Can A Dehumidifier Eliminate Odor?