It’s a common question on many homeowners’ minds: “Will a dehumidifier solve my mold problem?“
The answer, as with most things in life, is complicated.
So, let’s consider whether you can use a dehumidifier to combat mold-related issues and, if so, what you should keep in mind throughout the process.
This article will also cover the pros and cons of using a dehumidifier, how effective the device is at preventing mold growth, and what to do if mold there’s in your home.
Will a Dehumidifier Protect You Against Mold?
A dehumidifier can help protect you against mold, especially if you get the right-size device for your space. However, it will not solve the problem entirely. You might see mold in your attic, sink drains, and windowsills even if you have a running dehumidifier.
What Is a Dehumidifier and What Does It Do?
A dehumidifier is an appliance that removes moisture from the air, which can help reduce mold growth in your home because it thrives in humid environments.
Dehumidifiers come in all shapes and sizes, from small, residential-sized units to more extensive, industrial-sized units. They work by drawing in air from your home and passing it over a cooling coil. This process allows water in the air to condense on the coil, which is then collected in a reservoir.
You will have to empty the device after it has collected a certain amount of water. However, some dehumidifiers have a built-in pump that automatically discharges the reservoir to the nearest drain. This feature allows for hands-free operation.
We like to think of a dehumidifier as a distant cousin of the air conditioner. Both devices remove moisture from the air; however, an air conditioner also cools it, while a dehumidifier only removes humidity.
Still, that does not mean that an air conditioner is better than a dehumidifier at reducing mold growth—they both have pros and cons regarding mold prevention.
The Pros of Using a Dehumidifier To Control Mold
Some of the advantages of using a dehumidifier to control mold include:
Reduced Mold Growth
The most obvious benefit of using a dehumidifier is that it can help reduce mold growth in your home. We’re not saying that it will eliminate 100% of it, but it can help reduce its growth rate.
This characteristic is especially true if you live in a humid climate or have a lot of moisture in your home for some other reason. For example, if you have a leaky roof or an overly damp basement, using a dehumidifier can help to dry out the air and slow down mold growth.
Dehumidifiers Are Intuitive To Use
Another pro of using a dehumidifier to control mold is that these devices are easy to use. You don’t need special skills or knowledge to operate one—just plug it in and turn it on.
However, there are some settings you will want to adjust to get the most out of your dehumidifier. For example, you might want to set your desired humidity level so the device can turn off when it achieves it. This will save you a lot in energy bills, especially if you have several units running in your home.
You can usually find settings instructions in the manual with your device. If not, a quick Google search should give you the answer.
Dehumidifiers Are Relatively Inexpensive
Dehumidifiers are also relatively inexpensive, especially compared to other mold prevention methods. You can usually find a decent unit for under $200.
Of course, the price will vary depending on the size and features of the model. However, even the most expensive dehumidifiers are still cheaper than air conditioners.
Prevention of Musty Odors
People in Florida and other humid states know this all too well. You open your closet and are hit with a musty smell. This odor is because mold and mildew love damp environments, and closed closet space is the perfect place for them to grow.
Dehumidifiers can help to prevent this by reducing the humidity in your home and preventing mold growth, which will also help to eliminate musty odors in your storage spaces.
We’re yet to see a scientific study that proves this, but we can tell you from personal experience that using a dehumidifier has helped to reduce the musty smell in our homes.
Dehumidifiers Minimize Condensation
If you live in a humid climate, you know how annoying it is to have water droplets form on your windows. Not only is it unsightly, but it can also lead to mold growth if the condensation is not cleaned up quickly.
Dehumidifiers can help to reduce window condensation by lowering the humidity level in your home. This will also help to reduce the risk of mold growth.
Severe condensation can also cause structural damage to your home. The water can seep into cracks and crevices, causing wood rot—and that’s a far worse issue to deal with than mold growth.
Here’s the thing—most pests thrive in humid environments. This is because they need moisture to endure and survive long periods without food and water.
Removing most moisture and condensation from your home will make the space far less attractive to pests. As a result, you will see fewer spiders, ants, cockroaches, and other creepy crawlies in your home.
We’re not saying that getting a dehumidifier will magically make all pests disappear. However, we are saying it can steer them away.
The Cons of Using a Dehumidifier To Control Mold
However, this approach comes with its own set of drawbacks.
Some of the most prominent downsides include:
Potentially Noisy Operation
The main downside of using a dehumidifier to control mold is that it can be pretty loud, which is particularly true for older models that don’t have noise-reduction technology. The noise can be quite annoying if you’re trying to sleep or watch TV.
Even if you have newer models, you’ll still need several units to cover your home. Running multiple units can get quite expensive, and the noise can be overwhelming. It’s also worth noting that the noise level depends on the model’s size. The larger the dehumidifier, the louder it will be.
Dehumidifiers Can Make Your Home Hot
Dehumidifiers also tend to get quite warm in the summer because they are electronic devices with moving parts. The heat they generate can make your home quite hot, especially if you have several units running simultaneously.
If you live in a humid climate, this can be pretty frustrating as it defeats the purpose of using a dehumidifier in the first place. You’ll swap one problem (humidity) for another (heat).
Routine Emptying is Required
Another downside of dehumidifiers is that you must empty the water tank regularly, which can be quite a hassle, especially if you have several units.
Remember that the larger the unit, the more water it will remove from the air, meaning you’ll need to empty the tanks less often.
However, some dehumidifiers come with a hose attachment, so you can drain the water directly into a sink or drain. This feature can be pretty convenient, but it does require some additional setup.
Dehumidifiers can sometimes be quite expensive to run, mainly because they rely on electricity. If you have several units running simultaneously, your electricity bill will increase quite a bit.
The cost of running the dehumidifiers can sometimes outweigh the benefits—especially true if you live in an area with a combination of hot and humid summers.
The Dangers of Mold Exposure
Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of dehumidifiers, let’s talk about the dangers of mold exposure.
Mold is a fungus that can grow in damp or humid environments. It is often found in homes with leaks, flooding, or high humidity.
Mold exposure can cause a variety of health problems, including:
- Allergic reactions – mold can cause sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes. In some cases, it can also cause difficulty breathing.
- Asthma – mold exposure can trigger asthma attacks in susceptible people and is particularly dangerous for children.
- Infections – some types of mold can cause skin infections; others can cause lung infections.
If you’re exposed to mold, it’s essential to get away from the source as soon as possible. You should also contact a professional to assess the situation.
The issue is that mold is not always noticeable. It can sometimes be hidden in walls or under floorboards. A professional can identify the problem and determine the best course of action.
However, it’s crucial to know that some expert-recommended solutions are not cheap. For example, you may need to have your house professionally cleaned or even gutted.
This consideration is why it’s so important to prevent mold growth in the first place. And this is where dehumidifiers come in.
How To Prevent Persistent Mold Growth in Your Home
Let’s say you have already listened to our advice and installed dehumidifiers—that’s great!
However, you still have some mold under the sink and attic. What should you do?
Here are a few tips:
- Inspect your home for leaks and repair them as soon as possible – leaks can allow moisture to collect in hidden areas, creating the perfect environment for mold to grow.
- Keep your gutters clean and free of debris — clogged gutters can cause water backup and eventually lead to leaks in your external walls.
- Use an exhaust fan in the kitchen and bathroom – this will help remove moisture from these rooms, typically the most humid areas of the house.
- Run the dehumidifier regularly, especially during humid months – you may even want to consider running it continuously if you live in a particularly humid climate.
- Empty the water tank regularly and clean the filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions – routine emptying will help the dehumidifier run more efficiently.
Following these tips will help you keep mold at bay and protect your family from its harmful effects.
When To Call the Professionals
Even if you take all necessary precautions, mold can still find its way into your home. If this happens, it’s essential to call a professional as soon as possible.
Here are some situations where you should call a mold remediation expert:
- You have a large amount of mold growth – this includes mold visible to the naked eye and mold hidden behind walls or under floors.
- You have a musty smell in your home – this often indicates hidden mold growth.
- You or someone in your family is experiencing health problems that may be related to mold exposure – symptoms include allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, and skin or lung infections.
- You are unsure how to remove the mold safely – mold remediation is a complex process that might require expert intervention.
If you are in any of these situations, don’t hesitate to call a mold remediation expert. They will be able to safely and effectively remove the mold from your home and help you get your life back to normal.
However, there’s a slight problem – a good dehumidification expert can be expensive. You’re looking at a few thousand dollars, at least.
But remember, the cost of mold remediation is nothing compared to the cost of health problems caused by exposure to mold. So, don’t hesitate to call a professional if you face a mold-related issue.
That is just about everything you need to know about using dehumidifiers to prevent mold growth in your home. Following the tips in this article, you can keep your home mold-free and protect your family from its harmful effects.
We suggest contacting a professional if you seem to have difficulty getting rid of mold in your living space. They will be able to help you identify the source of the problem and recommend the best course of action.
Best of luck!
- EPA: What Is the Difference Between Mold and Mildew?
- PuroClean: Does a Humidifier Kill Mold?
- Oransi: Dehumidifiers and Mold
- All Dry Us: Will a Dehumidifier Kill Mold?
- National Library of Medicine: Respiratory and Allergic Health Effects of Dampness, Mold, and Dampness-Related Agents: A Review of the Epidemiologic Evidence