Excess moisture in the air indoors can be a problem as it can cause numerous health problems, decrease comfort and leave a ‘musty’ smell in the air. It also results in mold, which is both unsightly and, depending on the type of mold, extremely dangerous to human health.
Since a dehumidifier reduces excess humidity, investing in one seems a wise choice if you find that you home often has damp conditions. But can it kill mold? The short answer is that, NO dehumidifiers can’t actually kill mold, but have a critical part to play in mold prevention. Let us find out why.
Some homeowners suffer from the opposite effect, namely that there isn’t as much humidity in the home, which can make the air very arid and dry. These people usually opt to get a humidifier and air purifier combo unit that can help add extra moisture to the home, but in this case we’re looking at how a dehumidifer can do the opposite and stop mold from growing in damp homes.
Mold is a type of fungus that grows on the type of material typically found around the house, such as food, clothes, wood, drywall and carpet. Mold requires the right combination of environmental conditions to germinate and grow, including oxygen, an absence of sunlight and the correct temperature. However, the biggest contributor to the formation and spread of mold is excess moisture. This is the reason mold is usually found in damp, dark corners of rooms.
While most types of mold are harmless, some kinds of mold release mycotoxins, which are extremely harmful to humans as they cause respiratory problems and other serious health conditions. These harmful mold appears as black mod, although not all black mold is toxic. Consequently, it is important to ensure that mold doesn’t grow in your home, especially if you have vulnerable people such as children, asthmatics and sick people in your house.
Dehumidifiers are units, usually portable, that work by filtering the air in the room, trapping the excess moisture and passing the drier air through. Since the biggest reason for the germination and spread of mold is moisture, removing it from the air will prevent mold spores from germinating. Consequently, dehumidifiers have an important role to play in preventing the spread of mold. However, it is important to note that dehumidifiers will not remove the mold that has already formed in your house. Therefore, dehumidifiers will not kill mold, but will help to prevent it from forming and growing in your home.
While using a dehumidifier will help stop the spread of mold, you will need to take steps remove the mold that you already have. If your home has a lot of mold or you suspect that the mold is toxic, due to the symptoms that you or other householders have developed, do not attempt to remove it yourself. Instead, you should get the services of an experienced professional. However, if the area with mold is relatively small, you can remove it yourself by scrubbing it using bleach or vinegar. As a safety precaution, wear a face mark when you removing the mold to prevent inhaling the spores and thoroughly wash your clothes and tools once you are done.
Bear in mind that high humidity is just one source of the moisture that mold thrives on. Wetness as a result of other reasons can also cause mold to grow. For example, mold can form on wet clothes, so it is important to make sure that clothes dry as soon as possible after being washed. Broken water pipes and other water leaks can also lead to mold formations on walls. In colder weather, water condensation can also cause mold. If there is a large amount of mold in a particular room, it is important to investigate and find out what is what is causing the excess dampness that is leading to the mold. Apart from using a dehumidifier, fixing water leaks and taking steps to prevent water condensation are important aspects in mold prevention.
Dehumidifiers are valuable additions to homes because you can enjoy numerous benefits besides stopping the spread of mold in your house. Apart from mold, dust mites and mildew also thrive in damp environments, affecting those with allergies, asthma and respiratory ailments. Having drier air will significantly enhance comfort and also help to preserve your furniture as humidity can cause wood to rot.
If you or others in your household suffer from Mold related allergies, then it’s highly recommended you buy a good air purifier for mold and mildew to go along with your dehumidifier to provide extra help in the fight against this airborne pathogen that can wreak havoc on your respiratory system.
In order to use a dehumidifier effectively, ensure that you choose one with the right capacity for your rooms. While 25-40 pint dehumidifiers are sufficient for small rooms, medium sized rooms will be better served by 40-60 pint ones. For larger rooms, you should have dehumidifiers with a capacity in excess of 60 pints. There are also specialized dehumidifiers that can be used in basements and garages.
As dehumidifiers can consume a lot of electricity, you should try buying the most efficient model you can, preferably something that is Energy Star rated. Other useful features you should look for include being able to set the desired humidity level and an auto shut-off function where the dehumidifier switches off once the desired humidity is reached. As mold forms when humidity is in excess of 60%, you should aim for a level of between 30% and 50%. Don’t let the humidity in the room drop below 30% as you may then face other problems, such as dry skin, chapped lips and your furniture beginning to warp.
You can ensure that your unit operates efficiently by cleaning the filter regularly and keeping it away from dust and dirt. Machines with top mounted filters are easier to maintain. Units with drainage hoses that send the collected water to a nearby drain will free you from having to regularly empty to dehumidifier yourself. Optimal placement will help your dehumidifier to operate effectively. Avoid placing it near walls, curtains and furniture so that it can circulate air more effectively, especially if it doesn’t have a top mounted air filter. Ideally there should be 6 to 12 inches of space around the unit. Doors and windows should be kept closed when the unit is operating. Try to use the dehumidifier only when you most need it, for example after you have taken a shower or finished laundering clothes.
Given the potentially toxic properties of mold and the other harmful side effects associated with dampness, you must take prompt steps to address the issue if you find excess moisture in your home. Having a dehumidifier will help you to control the spread of mold and also provide many other benefits and is well worth considering if you live in a humid environment.
This article was written by Julia Montague – check out her author bio here