When to Use a Dehumidifier

Knowing when to use a dehumidifier will help you maintain your indoor air quality without skipping a beat. It might seem like all you need to do is plug it in and turn it on, but using a dehumidifier is actually a bit more complicated than that.

Not to worry, though. The following guide will provide you with all the information you need, including the benefits of a dehumidifier, how to choose the best dehumidifier, and how to use a dehumidifier correctly.

By the time you’re done, you’ll feel like an expert and you’ll be able to keep your home’s humidity in perfect balance.


What is a dehumidifier and how does it work? The concept is pretty simple. A dehumidifier removes excess moisture from your home.

It works by using a fan to draw the moist air in your home into a set of refrigerated coils. As the air cools down, it releases moisture in the form of condensation, which is left in a storage tank located inside the dehumidifier. The machine then releases the drier air back into your home.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it’s best to keep indoor humidity below 60% all year round.

Ideally, you’ll want to maintain a range of 30% to 50%. This will help prevent mold growth and may discourage certain pests, like dust mites and cockroaches, from taking up residence inside.


There are many reasons the humidity in your home may be higher than the ideal level. Using common appliances like your clothes dryer or stove can release humidity into your home, as can taking hot showers, mopping floors, and cleaning carpets. If you use a humidifier or have a steam radiator, this can lead to higher-than-average humidity as well.

In most cases, your HVAC system will do a good job of regulating your indoor humidity. However, if you’re behind on maintenance, you may notice that your air conditioner can’t keep up. This is one of the most common causes of humidity problems.


One of the most common signs of high humidity is condensation on your windows. You may also notice that your home feels sticky or stuffy or has a musty smell. Other common signs of a humidity problem include:

  • Mold or mildew growth
  • Pest problems
  • Rotting wood
  • Watermarks on walls or ceilings
  • Increased allergy problems

Humidity makes your house feel warmer, so if you have the sense that your air conditioner isn’t working as it should, it’s possible that excess humidity is the issue. In this case, using a dehumidifier should make your home feel more comfortable and may relieve some stress from your HVAC system.

Ideally, you’ll want to address humidity issues before these problems arise. As soon as you notice one of these issues, it’s important to check to see if there’s an obvious cause – like plumbing problems or windows and doors that aren’t sealed properly. If so, you’ll want to fix them as soon as possible.

If there’s no clear issue, then using a dehumidifier is usually your best option. For optimal performance, plan to use it for 12 hours a day, as this will give it time to remove enough moisture from the air without also racking up your energy usage.


The best dehumidifiers will have a moisture gauge built-in. This will allow you to monitor your moisture levels and make adjustments as needed.

Depending on the size of your home and the seriousness of your humidity problems, you may want a whole-house dehumidifier rather than a portable model.

Whole-house systems are integrated into your HVAC system. They’re often more accurate, have a higher capacity, and require very little maintenance. However, these systems do require time and money to install.

A portable dehumidifier, on the other hand, is far less expensive and can be set up in just a couple of minutes. In areas where humidity is a serious problem, homeowners may find that they need a whole-house system and a portable unit for extra backup during peak months.


There are different sizes available, so make sure you check the capacity and choose one that’s large enough for the room in question. Dehumidifiers are measured in pint capacity, which refers to the size of their reservoir.

For a small room, you’ll want a dehumidifier with a capacity of 25-40 pints. Midsized rooms do well with a 40-59 pint capacity dehumidifier, while for larger rooms, you’ll want one that can hold 60 pints or more.

If you plan to use your dehumidifier in your crawlspace, basement, or garage, consider a dehumidifier that’s specially made for these conditions.


There are many budget-friendly dehumidifiers on the market today. Choosing a larger capacity and a well-known brand may cost you a bit more upfront, but is often a good investment, as it will give you the best long-term results.

However, if cost is an issue, you’re better off getting a dehumidifier you can afford now rather than putting off the purchase until you have more money. The damage extra moisture can do while you wait could end up costing you a lot more in the long run.


If you’re buying a stand-alone dehumidifier, you’ll want one that you can easily move from room to room if needed.

Most come standard with carrying handles and wheels, but it’s a good idea to check before you buy, as these really are “must-have” features.

Energy Efficiency

Lastly, you’ll want to purchase a unit with an Energy Star rating if you can. This ensures the unit meets strict guidelines and will run efficiently, creating a minimal impact on your energy costs. Again, this may cost a bit more upfront but will result in long-term savings.


Controlling the humidity in your home is critical! If you think you might need a dehumidifier, don’t wait. They’re relatively inexpensive and easy to set up, so do yourself a favor and take this important step.

Now is also a great time to perform your annual HVAC system maintenance. This will help ensure that everything is running as it should and will assist in keeping your humidity issues under control.

Want to leave this important task to the pros? The experts at Briggs HVAC are here to help! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.