Does A Dehumidifier Take Moisture Out Of The Air?

Moisture occurs naturally in the air but depending on the local climate and the time of year moisture levels can be too high for a comfortable environment in a home.

Dehumidifiers work by taking moisture out of the air. While it isn’t the only way to lower humidity in a home, dehumidifiers will be the most effective appliance. Dehumidifiers will remove moisture from the air either by cooling the air and turning the water particles into a liquid, or by forcing the air through an absorptive material.

Dehumidifiers can be a very useful bit of kit for your home.

We’ve been using our desiccant type of dehumidifier to help take moisture out of the air in our home for years and helps with things like preventing condensation forming on windows and mold, and also getting our washing to dry out quicker.

Desiccant Dehumidifier
Our dehumidifier that removes the excess moisture from the air in our home

To maximize the use of a dehumidifier you’ll need to make sure that you understand what they do.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about using a dehumidifier to take moisture out of the air.

How A Dehumidifier Takes Moisture Out Of The Air

There are two main ways that a dehumidifier can remove moisture from the air.

These are by cooling the air (for refrigerant dehumidifiers) or by using a material to absorb it (for desiccant dehumidifiers).

Let’s take a closer look at each of these options so you can find the right one for you:

Cooling the Air

In this type of machine, there are three main stages:

  1. First, the intake fan. This draws the air into the machine. Once inside, the air is forced onto the cold coils. When this happens, the water molecules in the air will liquefy.
  2. They can then travel down the coils and end up in the bucket, where they are collected.
  3. Third, the air is heated back to room temperature and forced out of the machine.
Our refrigerant-style dehumidifier

Absorbing the Moisture

This is a more complex design:

  1. First, there is an intake valve, where the air is forced in.
  2. It then goes through a material that is designed to absorb the excess moisture.
  3. This removes the moisture and then the air leaves the machine.
Our desiccant dehumidifier that absorbs moisture

However, the absorbent material can’t get too wet. If it does, it will no longer be able to remove water particles from the air.

Because of this, it’s often placed on a spinning wheel (the desiccant wheel). Hot air is used to dry out the material. The excess water can then be collected in a bucket.

Picking the Right Model For You

There can be a big difference between these two options.

To help you pick the right machine for you, let’s look at how they stack up across some key areas:

QualitiesAbsorption (Desiccant)Cooling (Refrigerant)
Climatic ConditionsWorks best in cold climatesOperates equally well in hot and cold areas
Effect on Room TemperatureSlightly warmer air (3-5 degrees Celsius)Minimal effect
Energy ConsumptionSlightly higher than models that use refrigerationLow
SizeSmall, tend to be relatively portableBigger and can be bulkier

We own and use both types of dehumidifier but prefer the absorption desiccant dehumidifier because we live in a typically colder climate and the extra heat it pumps out is nice.

Once you know what type of model you want, you can start to look for individual machines. Often, the best way of doing this is by reading through a few reviews. This will give you a good idea of which manufacturers you can trust.

When you’re shopping, there are a few other things to consider. These include:

  • Whether it comes with a warranty
  • The price
  • What features are included
  • How much electricity it uses
  • The size of the tank

Getting The Right Dehumidifier Size

The other thing you need to consider is how large the dehumidifier will be.

This will often depend on how serious the humidity problem is. A smaller dehumidifier will be compact and cheaper to run. However, it will only be able to deal with one room at a time. They can be a good choice to deal with a few high-humidity areas.

We use a portable dehumidifier so that we can move it into whichever room we need.

Dehumidifier Plugged In
Our dehumidifier is portable allowing us to move it around the house as we need

On the other hand, you can get a larger dehumidifier. This will be enough to control the humidity levels of your whole house.

This makes them more convenient than smaller models. However, it also means that it will be more expensive to install and operate.

Do You Need A Dehumidifier?

A dehumidifier works best in areas that have excessive moisture in the air. If left unchecked, this can cause some serious problems.

For example, the high humidity creates ideal conditions for mold and fungus to germinate. These can cause health problems, releasing spores into the air. They can also eat through the wooden walls.

Window Mold
A dehumidifier helped us solve our mold problems

To see if your home might benefit from a dehumidifier, first use a hygrometer.

This is available in most hardware stores and will let you measure the air quality in your home.

Ideally, it will be between 30 to 50 percent. This is where you will feel most comfortable.

Anything over 60 percent is considered to be high humidity.

These figures are stated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

This is especially important to check in areas that don’t have good ventilation.

For example, it’s common to notice these problems in the bathroom. Another common problem area is the basement. Even if you open windows, it might not be enough to funnel the moist air out of the house.

A built-in hygrometer (which most dehumidifiers have) will consistently monitor the humidity. When it gets too high, it will automatically start, reducing the humidity to healthy levels.

Our dehumidifier displaying the current humidity level

While removing moisture is the main benefit, there are a few other reasons to use a dehumidifier:

  • Controlling allergen levels
  • Removing dust from the air
  • Getting rid of fungus spores

A few other secondary benefits include:

  • Getting rid of the smell of dampness
  • Extending furniture life, as there is less chance that metal will begin to corrode
  • Making hanging clothes dry faster
Dehumidifier Drying Washing
Using our dehumidifier to help our clothes dry faster by taking out moisture from the air

How Much Moisture Will Be Removed?

Once the moisture has been removed, it will be collected in a tank.

This makes it easy for you to maintain the device. But it raises an important question: how often will you need to empty this bucket? That will depend on a few factors, including:

  • The amount of humidity in the air
  • The size of the device
  • How long it has been running
  • How efficient it is

The best way to determine how much water it will remove is by looking at its “capacity.”

Usually, this isn’t necessarily correlated to the size of the device. A typical humidifier can remove between 10 to 20 liters of water each day. Though some larger devices might be able to remove 50 liters.

Dehumidifier Water Tank
Moisture taken out of the air is collected in a water tank (if not set up to be continuous draining using a drain pipe)

Other Ways To Remove Humidity From Your House

While dehumidifiers are a good option, there are a few other ways that you can lower the moisture levels in your house.

First, you might want to use plants. As they grow, they will absorb the water from the air. Another option is to change your carpets. These can capture and store moisture.

You can also consider changing the way your house is designed. For example, you can add some more windows. This will improve the ventilation in the home, stopping moisture from getting trapped inside the building. You can also add in some more exhaust fans in the bathroom. This will remove the excess moisture.

Finally, you can adjust the way that you use water. For example, you might want to take shorter showers. Also, using colder water will produce less steam, lowering humidity levels.

While these can be a good way of managing the problem, they are unlikely to eliminate it entirely.

Because of this, if you have high humidity levels, it is best to purchase a dehumidifier.

Does A Dehumidifier Put Moisture In The Air Or Take It Out?

If you have a high humidity level in your home, it’s important to take steps to lower it. This will stop fungus spores from propagating and damaging your property and your health.

The best way to control humidity is by using a dehumidifier as it actively removes moisture from air in a home.

Further Reading

Does A Dehumidifier Make A Room Warmer Or Cooler?

Can A Dehumidifier Stop Condensation?

Can A Dehumidifier Prevent Mold?

Can A Dehumidifier Eliminate Odor?