Is a Whole-Home Dehumidifier Right for Me?

Is a Whole-Home Dehumidifier Right for Me?
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Aprilaire
Dehumidifier

Is a Whole-Home Dehumidifier Right for Me?

04-19-2020
Arne Jacobsen

I have been in heating and air conditioning trade for 44 years. In that time, I have installed, serviced, designed ductwork, sold, and sized thousands of residential heating and cooling systems.

Are you concerned about having excess moisture in your basement or home? Are there musty smells in your basement? Do your allergies act up when the indoor humidity levels rise?

High moisture levels create perfect conditions for mold growth, allergens, musty odors, and mildew which can lead to unhealthy air in your home.

A properly sized Whole House Dehumidifier can be a beneficial product to control harmful high humidity issues and at the same time saving you money in the operation of your old portable dehumidifier.

Items that are affected by high humidity levels in our homes.

  • Health
  • Comfort
  • Preservation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Installation types

Can a Dehumidifier Improve Your Health?

Whole-house dehumidifiers can reduce dust mite growth and prevalence of mold and other contaminants that can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms.

Dust Mites are tiny insect like-pests that live in house dust. This dust gets embedded in carpets, mattresses, bedding, and upholstered furniture. The dust mites themselves are not the trigger for the allergy, but rather the fecal matter they might leave behind.

Dust Mites eat dead human skin flakes and pet dander. The other thing they need to survive is water. They don’t drink water like we do but absorb moisture into their bodies.

The moisture content levels must be at 50% relative humidity or above for them to survive. When the dehumidifier operates it lowers humidity levels in the home below what dust mites need to survive.

Another allergen that can cause unhealthy environments in our homes is mold.

Mold or mold Spores can enter into our homes through any opening that goes outside. These can be doors or windows. The musty smell is created by the growth of the mold.

As the mold spores circulate throughout our homes, they are looking for places to live. They especially thrive in areas where there is excessive moisture.

We can help control this growth with the installation of a Whole House Dehumidifier and lowering the moisture levels below the 50% relative humidity range.

What are some ways to better our comfort levels?

Whole-house dehumidifiers remove moisture all year long in some parts of the country and during the summer months in other parts of the country to help the existing air conditioner control the humidity better.

Excess humidity levels of 50% or more in our homes can make us feel clammy and warmer than it is. By lowering the humidity level, ideally between 35%-45% RH (Relative Humidity), we can feel more comfortable at a higher temperature.

In my case, (see Arne’s Story below) we were able to turn the thermostat up during the cooling cycle a few degrees because of lower RH and felt as comfortable as the lower thermostat setting.

Again, this also saves us on air conditioner operating costs by cutting down the run time of the air conditioner.

How Can We Improve the Preservation of Our Home and Possessions?

Whole-house dehumidifiers can help protect our home and possessions. Items like woodwork, drywall, home furnishings, musical instruments, and books to name a few can be preserved with controlled humidity levels.

Anything made of wood can be affected by moisture. Whether there is excessive humidity or it’s too dry, wood is hygroscopic, which means it will change its shape based on the relative humidity amount around it.

The wood will expand with high moisture levels and shrink with very low moisture levels. This process can make joints between two pieces of wood separate. Not so good for that old acoustic guitar hanging on your wall.

These items can be very expensive to replace if they become damaged by extreme humidity levels. The investment in a Whole House Dehumidifier is an investment in your home’s protection and longevity.

Guitars Hanging on Wall

Can We Reduce Our Energy Bills by Better Energy Efficiency?

Whole-house dehumidifiers cost less to operate than undersized portable units. You can experience energy savings up to $100.00 or more depending on where in the country you live, and the daily run time needed.

The whole house dehumidifier can also decrease the cost to operate your whole house air conditioner system. One of the functions of an air conditioner is to also remove humidity.

By using the dehumidifier along with the air conditioner, the air conditioner’s run time can be lowered making it more efficient by saving on the electricity the air conditioner uses. It also allows the air conditioner to extend its life expectancy.

What Are the Different Dehumidifier Installation Types?

There are 2 main types of installation for the Whole House Dehumidifier.

Ducted to Existing Heating and Cooling Ductwork Method

The preferred method would be to duct a dehumidifier into the existing heating and cooling system’s ductwork.

This method would be for installs where the furnace or air handling equipment is installed in the basement, attic, or crawl space. The air inlets and outlets of the dehumidifier would be directly ducted to the ductwork of those pieces of equipment.  

This method would be the most efficient way to remove the high humidity levels throughout the home. If this would go to a basement location, a tee in the ductwork would be needed for the basement humidity removal. This type of installation typically has the higher cost of the initial install, ~$2700.00 and up.

Stand Alone Method

The other method of install would be the free-standing installation. This is the type that I have in my house and it works for me. This is basically a non-ducted install. One of the advantages of this install is that if the homeowner ever moves, they can unplug the unit from the electric receptacle and take it with them. This cannot be done with the ducted unit since it is permanently attached to the heating and cooling system as a fixture. The other feature is that it is the least costly way of installation. ~$2100.00

To fit your needs and lifestyle, you can control your dehumidifier using the onboard control panel, a remote dehumidifier control, or a digital thermostat.

Personal Experience

I would like to share my personal experience with the dehumidifiers in my house. In previous years I have had portable dehumidifiers in my homes. They seemed to work ok, but they ran all the time.

Then towards the middle of last year, I attended a training course on Whole House Dehumidifiers. Since I have been in the HVAC trade for the last 44 years, I always attended any training sessions that are available to me.

I understood the principles of how a dehumidifier removes moisture from its surrounding area. But this one was a little different.

It could be ducted into my existing heating and cooling ductwork system or standalone without any ductwork and still be able to remove moisture in my basement and the whole house living area. Here lies my concern. My old portable dehumidifiers never seemed to keep the humidity levels low in the living areas when my air conditioner didn’t run as much during the latter part of the cooling season.

As a salesperson, I always think it’s very helpful to experience the products that we offer. We had a loaner model that we could try out and I did. I hooked it up as a stand-alone install to see how it worked. I was quite amazed how fast condensate water was draining out and later that evening how much lower my relative humidity level was in the living area as compared to before with the portable one.

It only took a day and a half to decide to purchase the Whole House Dehumidifier for me. Since the install, we have noticed fewer allergy issues, better comfort level, a decrease in our electric bill, and fewer spider webs. What do spider webs have anything to do with it! Did I say that dust mites are a favorite food of spiders? No dust mites (less moisture) no food for spiders.

What’s Next?

High moisture levels in your home can affect your Health, Comfort level, Preservation of your home and possessions, and Energy Efficiency of your air conditioner operation.

The installation of a Whole House Dehumidifier can help improve these conditions.

At Fire & Ice Heating & Air Conditioning, our professional experts can consult you on a Whole House Dehumidifier and installation type that is best for you and home.

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