Is your home or office suffering from signs of damp or condensation? Find out whether a dehumidifier will help solve the problem and how to prevent further issues.
Why do we need dehumidification?
We know that water damage, construction work, swimming pools and other obvious damp areas all need dehumidification. However, efficient dehumidification isn’t just restricted to these areas.
The outdoor air is never completely dry anywhere in the world, and many of the issues we outlined can affect the humidity levels indoors, too. For example, steam from cooking, our own sweat, bathroom steam, and laundry.
As well as causing damage to the building itself, excess moisture in the air can have damaging effects on your health too. Dehumidifiers are the perfect appliance to help reduce and control the moisture in your home’s air.
Tell-tale signs you may need a dehumidifier
1. You’ve noticed mould spots
These are just what they sound like. Black, brown or green spots on a ceiling or in the corner of a room. Mould only starts growing on a surface once it’s been wet for over 24 hours, so it’s usually a symptom that the building has a problem with damp. If it does, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that one in 18 properties in England suffers from damp of some description.
Your bathroom can be particularly prone to this due to the amount of steam and moisture created in there. Mould can spread quickly and thanks to the mycotoxins which come from moulds, it can cause; respiratory problems, sinus congestion, eye, nose or throat irritation and headaches. Infants, children, pregnant women, elderly people and those with existing respiratory conditions are at a higher risk. So, if you spot it, then it’s a good idea to use a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture levels in the air.
2. Musty smells and mildew
Sometimes you’ll notice a musty smell or mildew (early mould). If so, there is a strong chance there is mould lurking somewhere. Culprits tend to be garages or basements, thanks to groundwater levels or bathrooms, due to a lack of ventilation. Getting a dehumidifier will help reduce the moisture in the air, although it won’t solve the problem long term.
To get rid of a mildew smell, you can clean the area and ventilate it with an open window or use odour absorbers. Put them in the area where mildew seems to be the strongest. As well as getting rid of the smell, it will also absorb moisture in the air, but a dehumidifier will take out the greatest amount of moisture.
3. Rain water
If you’ve noticed water marks on the bottom of your walls, it could be caused by rising damp. This is when water in the ground outside rises up through the bricks of a building. Just like the way water is soaked up by a sponge.
If a building doesn’t have a sufficient damp proof course then water will be soaked up, usually to a height of no more than 1.2m. You can thank gravity for that!
If the damp is affecting a ceiling or the top of a wall, it could be that rain water is sitting on the outside of the building thanks to blocked or damaged guttering. In all these cases, a dehumidifier can help to remove any excess moisture, but the root cause will need to be addressed.
Many of us have probably suffered from condensation in our homes at some point during the winter. It’s cold outside and we’ve got the heating on to keep us nice and toasty. This can create too much moisture inside though. So, if you notice that your windows bead up with water, it might be beneficial to use a dehumidifier.
Dehumidifiers can get rid of excess moisture and keep the room at a good humidity level. Oddly enough, the areas where you can see excess humidity in your home are less at risk than other areas — such as the insulation in your loft. Condensation can melt and break down the plaster just like a roof leak when the weather starts to warm up. Water vapor is the culprit here, and the only way to get rid of it is with a dehumidifier.
5. Water damage
If you suddenly have water dripping through the ceiling, it could mean someone left the bath running or it could be a leaking pipe. If it’s not the first problem, ask a plumber to check the pipe system for problems.
What we’ve learnt so far is that water is the enemy when it comes to mould, so if you’ve had a leak, use a dehumidifier to get rid of the excess moisture. This is also true if you’re unlucky enough to have your property flooded. It can take a long time to dry out a building and a dehumidifier will definitely help.
6. Rotting wood
Moisture is bad for wood. It turns out that dry rot doesn’t exist and if your windowsills or wooden beams are rotting then they will be wet or will have been wet in the past.
Wood rot, can be expensive and very damaging to older properties. So, if you notice it, use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture and speak to an expert for treatment options. Remember, wood shouldn’t be soft when you press it. Windowsills and the wood underneath your sink are two common places for wood rot, so keep your eyes peeled.
How does fungus get into wood though? Tiny wood decaying spores are blown around and settle on the surface before germinating if the temperature is high enough. The resulting mini-fungi penetrate the wood and secrete their enzymes, softening it and making it easier to digest. Under the right conditions they multiply very quickly and before you know it, they’ve smothered the wood.
7. Excessive allergies
If you sneeze and cough a lot, it could be the result of too much bacteria and mould growing in your home. Try getting a dehumidifier because your home might be too moist.
A dehumidifier will reduce the amount of moisture in the air, which lowers humidity levels and stops dust mites and mould from thriving.
Use the dehumidifier too much though and you can face another set of problems. Low humidity causes static electricity, dry skin and hair, increased susceptibility to colds and respiratory illness, and can allow viruses and germs to thrive.
To get things just right, get a dehumidifier that tracks current temperature and humidity levels, so you can maintain the best environment throughout your property. The ideal humidity level for your property is 45%. Under 30% is too dry and over 50% is to humid. All very Goldilocks and the Three Bears!
How do I know which type of dehumidifier to use?
With so many models out there, ranging in price from £10 to £700, take some time to do your homework and get the right one for the job.
Fortunately we’ve written a complete guide on using Dehumidifiers to remove and prevent mould, which can help you determine what type of dehumidifier is suitable for your home.
Once the dehumidifier has worked its magic, how can you prevent further problems with mould?
- Always look out for lying water and fix leaks when you find them.
- Make sure pipes are well insulated.
- Check that gutters and downpipes are clear.
- Use extractor fans in the kitchen when cooking.
- Use the fan, if you have one, in the bathroom during a shower or a bath and make sure fan vents are kept clean.
Here’s a more in-depth article on how to prevent mould in your home.