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Do I Need a Dehumidifier?

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Let’s face it, we are surrounded by water everywhere here in South Florida and I think it’s safe to say that we live in one of the most humid climates on this little blue rock of ours. As I pen this article it is a little after 8 am and the humidity outside is at 81%. For those that don’t live in our area, today is the kind of day that you start sweating just walking from the front door of your house to the car in the driveway.

My bold statement of the day is that air conditioners are not dehumidifiers. Yes, a properly sized air conditioning system in a home or business will do a pretty good job pulling humidity out of the air however, in some cases the ac unit cannot control the humidity to the levels we want.

I’m sure you’ve heard the statement, it’s not the heat it’s the humidity and truer words have never been spoken. Everyone loves Florida in the winter months as we enjoy those 80 degree temperatures and very low humidity levels. You can have the same temperature with 40% humidity versus 80% humidity and it is a totally different feel. In an indoor environment we like to keep humidity levels at 55% or below for the best comfort. If indoor humidity levels starting getting up over 70% for extended periods of time very bad things can happen such as mold growth.

So when do you need a dehumidifier? The first and most common use is when the home is very tightly constructed and near water. In newer homes the building process is getting better and better, thus the homes of today are much more air tight than in years past. This air tightness leads us to needing to bring fresh outside air into our home and of course along with that air comes the humidity. The dehumidifier is brought into play to dry the air out and filter it before we bring it into our environment. The next most common use for our little friend is when the home owner wants to make the home as energy efficient as possible. This often involves sealing all the soffit vents in the home, using a different type of insulation in the attic and then making the attic of the home part of the air conditioned space. When the attic becomes part of the conditioned space humidity tends to stack in the attic and the dehumidifier is a must.

On occasion some people just want a dehumidifier to keep the house itself as dry as possible thus allowing higher settings on the thermostat for the air conditioner and ultimately saving on those utility bills. The one drawback or issue if you will when it comes to installing a dehumidifier to dry out a whole home space is what to do with the hot air the unit produces. We never want the air conditioner and dehumidifier running at the same time so what happens with the hot air the dehumidifier produces is we typically dump it back out into the homes duct system. It is a much lower volume of air than produced by the air conditioner so it does not heat the home up. The complaint that I get is that when the dehumidifier shuts off and the air conditioner turns on you get a couple of seconds of hot air coming out of the vents at start up. You will really only notice it if you happen to be standing under or very near a vent, otherwise adding a dehumidifier to your home’s duct system is a great choice.

Okay friends, family, neighbors and loved ones this concludes this episode of the House Whisperer chronicles; I am off to explore a mold issue in Boynton Beach, until another week rolls off the calendar and I see you again, I was chatting with a friend who said I can be intimidating so after some thought I just stared at him until he apologized.

House Whisperer out!!


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