Dehumidifiers are increasingly becoming an everyday appliance for more and more homes. Coupled with an air conditioner in the summertime, they reduce humidity to make a home feel more comfortable. In parts of the country where hot, humid climates are present most of the year, the development of mold and mildew is a real concern. Dehumidifiers are used to hinder the possibility of mold and mildew growth in these areas. (Sometimes they’re even used in the winter to prevent mold in damp basements.) Nonetheless, some people may wonder — are dehumidifiers bad for your health?
Since the development of mold in a home can precipitate severe respiratory problems, many professionals recommend the use of dehumidifiers. Nevertheless, like any other piece of household equipment, they are not without some dangers. Under the wrong conditions, they can become a danger to health instead of improving it. Here are some precautions when using a dehumidifier.
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Choose the right size to do the job
A dehumidifier that is too small for the room or home it’s in will run continuously and be less effective. This means that you may feel as if your dehumidifier is deterring mold growth when actually it is not. Humidity must drop below 50 percent in order to deter mold growth. Your dehumidifier will also wear out faster under such conditions.
Choose your dehumidifier according to the amount of square feet it must cover and the average level of humidity in your home. This is important regardless of why you’re using the dehumidifier — whether it’s to make the home more comfortable or to kill fleas by removing moisture from the air.
Remove existing mold before using a dehumidifier
On the opposite end of the spectrum from wondering “Are dehumidifiers bad for your health?”, some people have the mistaken notion that a dehumidifier will solve all existing mold problems. If your home already has an advanced problem with mold, installing a dehumidifier will not remove it. In fact, a dehumidifier may aggravate the problem further, since the fans of the unit could push the mold into other areas of your home.
While a dehumidifier will probably remove the disagreeable odor, the only way to get rid of advancing mold that is hiding in walls and other spaces is to have a contractor remove it — a more expensive but much more reliable option. If you have any questions about whether the mold is still developing in your home, it’s a good idea to have it tested.
Dehumidifiers need regular maintenance
Just like any other equipment, dehumidifiers need regular maintenance. They contain noxious gases and should be served immediately if a leak is detected.
Units that run constantly generate heat and accumulate moisture. To avoid mold growth on the internal parts, the water collection basin on the unit should be cleaned and disinfected periodically. Change the filter regularly.
Adjust settings accordingly
High humidity in the summer can cause health problems, but so can extremely low humidity in the winter. Dry winter air can cause throat irritations, dry skin and nosebleeds. It can also encourage viruses. The setting of your dehumidifier should be adjusted for variations in seasonal indoor temperature.
Precautions when running the unit
- Don’t open windows when the dehumidifier is running, particularly in the summer. Your unit will have to work harder against increased humidity indoors.
- To avoid the possibility of fire from a heated unit, don’t leave the dehumidifier on when you go out.
Ready to buy a dehumidifier?
Now that you know the answer to the question “Are dehumidifiers bad for your health?”, you may be ready to purchase one for your own home. If so, check out our Best Dehumidifier Reviews to find one that’s right for you.
Generally speaking, if you purchase the right size dehumidifier for your home and observe safety precautions while providing regular maintenance, you should be able to enjoy a much more comfortable indoor environment with no dangers to health. Consult a professional if you are concerned about the development of mold in your home.