Small dehumidifiers are useful for preventing mold in small areas, like bathrooms and laundry rooms. The humidity in such rooms may be significantly higher than in other parts of the house, because of the way these rooms are used. Even though the spaces are small, it's still important to avoid mold in those areas if you can. Therefore you may need a small-sized dehumidifier for those rooms.
If you need to reduce humidity throughout the home, a whole house dehumidifier that is integrated into your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system may be easier and more cost effective than putting a smaller dehumidifier in each room or on each floor.
But maybe you don't need to reduce humidity throughout the home. Maybe you only have high levels of humidity in certain rooms, like bathrooms or laundry rooms. Maybe you've had trouble with mold in just one area of the home. Maybe one member of the family has asthma or some other respiratory problem and finds breathing easier with the humidity reduced in his or her bedroom at night. Sometimes you only need to reduce the humidity in one room or one relatively small area of the home and in that case, there's no point investing in the cost of a whole house dehumidifier.
Besides, you don't want to end up with the relative humidity too low in other areas of the home. While high levels of humidity can contribute to many problems, including mold growth, low humidity isn't good, either. You need to maintain a happy medium in your home, generally between 30 and 60 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
If you've ever emerged from a long hot shower to find the bathroom full of steam, the mirror fogged over, and the walls damp to the touch, you understand how high the relative humidity can be in a bathroom. Ventilation in bathrooms is often poor as well, creating a virtual sauna every time you bathe. Warm, moist areas like this are prefect for mold.
Reducing humidity in bathrooms can be difficult, although using the exhaust fan when showering can help. Small dehumidifiers may be necessary in order to prevent mold in bathrooms, especially those that don't have exhaust fans. Here is more information on bathroom dehumidifiers.
Relative humidity in laundry rooms can be nearly as high as in bathrooms, especially if the clothes dryer is not vented properly. An improperly vented drying not only leads to mold in the laundry room, it can be truly dangerous. If your dryer is powered by propane or natural gas, the carbon monoxide level in your home can build up to hazardous levels when using your dryer. If you're concerned that the dryer may not be vented properly, have it checked and repaired if necessary before using your dryer again.
If you hang some damp items to dry in the laundry room, that increases the relative humidity. Opening a window if you have one in the laundry room can increase air circulation and decrease humidity, as can turning on a fan in the laundry room. Hanging clothes outside on a clothesline to dry is another option that will lower humidity in the laundry room.
Your garage may get pretty hot and humid in the summer months. Garages are not usually air conditioned even when the rest of the house is, which makes sense because people rarely spend much time in their garages. However, you don't want mold growing in your garage, even if you don't spend much time there. You may need a small dehumidifier in the garage to prevent mold growth.
Of course, there are numerous other areas in which you may need small dehumidifiers, such as a small basement or attic, a workshop or shed, a seldom-used bedroom, or any other room in which the relative humidity is too high. A small dehumidifier may be useful in rooms in which you keep antiques, rare books, or valuable collectibles that need to be stored with specific levels of humidity in order to prevent damage. Owners of exotic pets such as some reptiles and birds may also want to use a small dehumidifier in pet areas to maintain the constant humidity levels necessary to protect the delicate health of these animals.
When we talk about dehumidifier sizes, we are referring to how much moisture the device can remove from the surrounding air in a 24 hour period, not the physical dimensions of the device. In general, though, dehumidifiers removing less moisture over a 24 hour period will be smaller in size and weigh less than those removing more moisture.
A small dehumidifier might remove 8 ounces (1/2 pint) of water from the air in 24 hours, while a large dehumidifier might remove 90 pints or more in that time period. If you need a point of reference, there are eight pints in one gallon.
The size you will need depends on the size of the area in which you will use your dehumidifier and on how damp that area typically is. An area measuring 500 square feet or less will usually only need a small dehumidifier, although you might need a slightly larger one for very damp areas like basements. For a sizing chart for larger areas, follow the link.
Our favorite small-sized dehumidifier is the Eva-dry Edv-1100 Electric Petite Dehumidifier. It is highly rated by homeowners because it effectively decreases humidity and is easy to install (place it where you want it and plug it in) and use (empty the water bucket when it is full). Most of the Eva-dry models carry the Energy Star rating, which means you'll save money on energy costs. To learn more and read reviews from other homeowners using the Eva-dry Edv-1100 Dehumidifier, just follow the links.
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EPA: Ten things to know about mold