By Guest Blogger, David
Using A Dehumidifier To Prevent Mold Growth In Your Home
Mold and mildew are two things you do not want growing inside your home. However, the conditions that can lead to their development are easy to control – if you know how.
In this article we will go over all you need to know to combat mold and mildew growth in your home.
What Causes Mold and Mildew?
Moisture is the main culprit. When the moisture content or humidity in your home is high, it can lead to condensation. Condensation often forms on interior walls and windows. It is a good idea to try to minimize condensation in your home; otherwise, if left untreated, it can develop into mold and mildew.
The conditions have to be right in order for mold and mildew to form. Without high humidity, condensation cannot develop. This means that if you control the moist air within your living space, you can control the buildup of mold and mildew.
What Problems Can Be Caused By Mold And Mildew?
There are two main categories of damage that can result from mold and mildew. They can have an impact on the health of those breathing the air, and too much moisture can also result in damage to a home. This is why it is important to have proper humidity levels indoors.
Because mold spores are so small and that they travel through the air, they pose a health threat. Breathing in these tiny airborne particles can irritate respiratory systems. In other words, problems with eyes, nose, throat and lungscan result from breathing mold spores.
Too much moisture is damaging to the structural integrity of a home. The condensation that forms on walls and windows can weaken drywall, cause wallpaper to peel and create stains that are hard to remove. Wood furniture and framing can warp out of shape, and corrosion can form on metal in humid conditions.
What Are The Ways To Prevent Mold And Mildew?
There are several ways to control the humidity conditions inside your home. All of them are simple to do and require just slight adjustments to how we are already doing things in the home. For more details, we will break it down by room to make it easier to understand.
1. Around Your Home
- In hot, humid climates use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to reduce air moisture
- Use a hygrometer to monitor humidity which should be below 60% indoors
- Add insulation to cold surfaces to reduce condensation build up
- If you find a wet area, dry it for up to 48 hours to eliminate mold growth
- Waterproof your home to keep extra moisture from entering
- Have your heating/cooling system inspected to ensure it is operating properly
- Use fans and open doors to increase air circulation and move furniture away from walls.
2. In The Kitchen
- Remove moisture when cooking or washing dishes by using exhaust fans
- Monitor all sources of water for leaks and repair when required
- Keep refrigerator drip pans empty at all times to remove excess moisture.
3. In The Basement
- Cover dirt floors in crawlspaces with plastic to form a moisture barrier
- Use fans and vents to the outside to keep air circulating
- Use a dehumidifier to control the moisture level at all times
- Inspect your basement floor for leaks and repair if required
- Monitor that landscaping outside does not channel water towards your home, but rather directs it away.
4. In The Laundry Room
- Have washing machines/clothes dryers vented to the outside
- Always keep the vent clear of lint or other debris to ensure it operates properly
- Do not leave damp clothing in a laundry basket or in the dryer.
5. In The Bathroom
- Use exhaust fans to move moist air out of the room following showers or baths
- Refrain from using wall-to-wall carpeting and opt for matts or rugs instead
- Monitor tubs, basins and showers for leaks and have them repaired when necessary
- Move moist air out of the room by opening a window during a shower
- Do not leave damp towels on the floor.
What Are The Different Types of Dehumidifiers?
There are three main types of dehumidifiers grouped according to the technology used to regulate humidity. It is important to understand each in order to choose the best type for use in your home.
Here is a review of the different dehumidifier technologies available.
A compressor dehumidifier uses technology that is similar to that of an air conditioner. The main difference is that air from the room is blown over a cold coil by a fan. The water in the air condenses on the coil and drips into a collection container that can be removed and emptied.
This allows for humidity to be removed from the room air and then disposed of. It is a very effective way to pull high volumes of moisture from the air but compressor units use more energy than the other styles of dehumidifiers. Some older units can also be noisy when in operation.
2. Desiccant and Salt Based
A desiccant is a substance that can easily absorb water. Salt and silica gel are commonly used in dehumidifiers to absorb air moisture. The difference between salt and silica gel units is that the silica gel can be ‘recharged’ by heating it. It can be reused as a result.
The salt units require regular refills of salt as it will slowly dissolve in water. This type of dehumidifier is completely silent when being used. However, they will require attention for ‘recharging’ or refilling and are not suitable for use in large rooms.
This type of dehumidifier tends to be smaller in size with several models specifically designed to be portable. They use a fan to draw air in and a Peltier element to create the cold surface that the water condenses on. The condensed water drips into a removable collection container.
These models are quieter as they do not contain a condenser so near silent operation is possible with just the fan noticeable during operation. Electronic dehumidifiers use energy in order to function and are most effective in smaller areas such as a room, crawlspace or attic.
How To Choose The Correct Size Dehumidifier
Dampness is damaging in places where clothing and books can be stored. The most effective type of dehumidifier for wardrobes, drawers and cupboards is a desiccant style. These are small so they can fit into tiny locations and can be recharged frequently when needed.
A compact or small dehumidifier style is effective in removing small amounts of moisture. These can pull out between approximately 1 to 30 pints of moisture per day. There are also styles specifically designed for garage or shed use and come equipped with defrost settings.
For complete home humidity control there are whole home dehumidifier designs that can remove between 70 to 100 pints of water per day from the air. These are the most powerful and largest of the dehumidifiers available. A whole home unit will also consume higher amounts of energy.
The conditions that promote mold and mildew development and growth can be controlled. If you have health concerns or live in a humid climate that is conducive to mold growth, it is wise to take control of the humidity by using one or many of the methods described above.
Try to keep the humidity level below 60% indoors and it will be better for you and your home.
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