What is an air dehumidifier?

This article discusses how an air dehumidifier works. We discuss how an air dehumidifier helps, thereby helping to improve the health of the occupants.

What is an air dehumidifier?

Have you ever wondered why your nasal passage feels irritated while breathing, or why mold and mildew growing in certain areas of your house.

These are all caused due to variation in the humidity levels of your indoor environment. Humidity is measured in terms of relative humidity (RH).

An optimal range of RH is between 30% to 50%. Anything above this promotes the growth of unwanted microorganisms such as bacteria and mold, while anything below this can make the air dry and cause irritation to the skin and respiratory passage.

Usually, climate helps to regulate humidity levels both outdoors as well as indoors. However, in certain seasons, the humidity levels may deviate considerably from the optimal range. 

In situations where the RH levels rise above the optimal limit, dehumidifiers come in handy. A dehumidifier takes moisture out of the air when it is too humid.

How dehumidifiers work

Dehumidifiers dry out the air. This is essential in certain seasons such as summer and spring, when the ambient humidity levels rise up to 60%.

There are mainly four different types of dehumidifiers, which include:

  • Refrigerative
  • Electronic
  • Desiccant
  • Ionic

A refrigerative dehumidifier operates by using a fan to suck warm air currents into its coils. Warm air condenses when it passes through the machine’s chilled coils, leaving condensation inside the dehumidifier.

As the condensation gathers, one droplet of water at a time, it falls into a dehumidifier-connected storage tank. 

Through the opposite side of the machine, cooler, drier air is sent back into your house. It is also the most commonly available type of dehumidifier.

The other common type of dehumidifier is a desiccant dehumidifier. This is a considerably more powerful dehumidifier, however it’s mostly used in commercial storage for medicines, food, and chemicals. 

It can lower humidity levels by 45 percent to 1%, however it does so by relying on thermal energy (natural gas or steam) rather than electrical outlets. 

Desiccant dehumidifiers employ chemical attraction instead of condensation to reduce humidity levels.

An air dehumidifier should be able to reduce the humidity in the air to 30 to 50 percent relative humidity. Many dehumidifiers come with a metre that monitors the relative humidity in the area where they’re installed, and you may adjust the humidity to the desired percentage.

How dehumidifiers help

Humidity control

Another excellent advantage of using a dehumidifier is that it may help regulate moisture and condensation, which can help protect the structural integrity of your home.

If one observes dampness or excess moisture accumulating along the inside of your windows, this might indicate that one’s home is too humid. 

If excess moisture in one’s house is retained, it can lead to the degradation of one’s property over time. This is due to the fact that wood may absorb water, which can result in mould and rotting, as well as softening and loss of strength.

Mold and mildew

Mold and mildew are easily spreadable and are produced by excess moisture in the air. Mold may enter and develop beneath the surfaces of your home products, whereas mildew can be visible growing on surfaces. 

They may grow on a variety of surfaces, including windows, pipes, ceiling tiles, wood, paper, carpet, upholstery, and even wallpaper and drywall.

Mold and mildew may be difficult to eradicate, therefore decreasing moisture in the air is critical to preventing their growth. 

A dehumidifier is a device that removes excess moisture from the air to lower moisture levels. Dehumidifiers may help prevent mould and mildew growth and enhance the indoor air quality of your area by doing so.


A dehumidifier can also help to minimise or eliminate smells by absorbing excess moisture from the air and restoring humidity levels. Wet weather or excess moisture in the air are the primary causes of odour. 

Condensation and musty scents can occur when damp air comes into touch with chilly surfaces near or around your house. Mold and mildew development are frequently responsible for this musty odour.

It is possible to create a comfortable and breathable atmosphere by keeping a healthy indoor humidity level. Other variables that might cause musty odours in or around your house should be considered as well.


Dust mites, pollen, animal or pet dander, mould, and mildew are all common spring allergy triggers. 

Mold and mildew grow in humid environments and can cause sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, dryness, congestion, watery eyes, and irritation in your eyes, nose, or throat, among other allergy symptoms.

A dehumidifier can help minimise dust and other allergy triggers in the air by lowering humidity levels. This results in the creation of healthy indoor air in your house.

Reduces energy consumption

Another advantage of a dehumidifier is that it may help you save money on electricity by making your air conditioner run more effectively. 

When deciding between a dehumidifier and an air conditioner, keep in mind that the air conditioner’s primary function is to chill the air, with moisture removal as a bonus. 

Because a dehumidifier’s sole purpose is to remove moisture from the air, it means your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature, reducing energy consumption and cooling system wear and tear.

Humidifiers aren’t meant to chill the air; instead, they’re meant to remove moisture. You may, however, buy an air conditioner/humidifier hybrids (typically portable devices) that can do both jobs.

If you’re looking for a new air conditioner, you may choose between central air conditioning, window units, or ductless air conditioners.

Prevents damage of household items

Dehumidifiers also safeguard important items such as musical instruments, pictures, books, and so on.

Mold, fungus, rot, dust mites, and other moisture damage to your personal possessions may all be prevented by using a dehumidifier in your house. This can help protect, maintain, and extend the life of one’s valuable belongings.

Reduces respiratory ailments

Certain respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis, and so on are triggered in  high humidity conditions. This is because of the rise in the number of mold spores and dust mites.

Dehumidifiers create conditions which help to reduce the proliferation of mites and mold spores, thereby reducing the risk of respiratory ailments.

Furthermore, air with excessive levels of moisture is hard to breathe. Moist air has a characteristic “heavy feeling” when inhaled. Therefore, air dehumidifiers help to keep the air comfortable to breathe. 

Side effects of dehumidifiers

Air dehumidifiers can also have side effects on the health of the user. Some of these are:

  • Dehumidifiers help to dry out the air. A dehumidifier may not be necessary if you live in a dry climate (such as a desert or high-altitude location) or heat your house with gas or electricity.
  • When the air is excessively dry, conditions like pneumonia might get worse.
  • If your house gets dry, your skin and hair may be harmed as well. Eczema (atopic dermatitis) sufferers may be more susceptible to flare-ups in a dry atmosphere.
  • When using a dehumidifier, you may need to be extra cautious about remaining hydrated.
  • A dehumidifier may also cause more damage than good if you have a dry cough or a congested nose.

When do you need an air dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers are most effective in wet locations, such as basements. The following are signs that you should buy a dehumidifier:

  • Year after year, anybody in the house suffers from a protracted allergy season.
  • You’ve recently moved, and your allergies appear to be worsening or flaring up more frequently than before.
  • In a part of your house where you spend a lot of time, there’s a continuous wet odour.
  • After a big rainstorm, water leaks into your area.
  • When you enter your house, you sense humid air, indicating that you can see water vapour in the air.
  • Dust mite allergies affect everyone in the house.
  • You’ve seen an increase in pests including spiders, cockroaches, moths, and silverfish.
  • Even after being properly washed, your garments have a damp or mouldy odour.
  • Coughing and a runny nose are chronic signs of a respiratory disease.


Air dehumidifiers help to lower the humidity level in the indoor environment. This is crucial in order to prevent the growth of mold and mildew, as well as prevent the air from feeling heavy.

This is especially helpful in areas with a humid climate, such as coasts, as well as in high humidity seasons, such as summer and spring.

Furthermore, an air dehumidifier helps in certain cases such as prevention of allergies, removal of odors, reduction in energy consumption, improving respiratory health, and much more.

However, there are certain side effects associated with air dehumidifiers, such as exacerbation of diseases such as pneumonia and eczema, affecting hydration, and so on.

Therefore, when considering whether you need an air dehumidifier, there are certain parameters to consider, such as the climate of the area you live in, any pre-existing health issues, and so on.


Should I also buy an air purifier?

Yes, you should also buy an air purifier. These devices help to remove the pollutants and odors present in the ambient air, thereby making the room less stuffy.

HEPA filters with an activated carbon filter as well as a germicidal UV light chamber are the best option for getting rid of the stale air smell in a relatively short amount of time.

However, it is important to note that air purifiers should not be used in high humidity conditions, as humid air is heavier than normal air, which causes overworking of the air purifier, thereby decreasing its efficiency.

Another reason for doing so is that the mold spores entrapped within the filters can start proliferating in there itself, which in turn can exacerbate the air quality.

Will an air dehumidifier get rid of the musty smell in the basement?

Air dehumidifiers do not get rid of the musty smell in the basement. However, these devices keep in check the sources that cause musty smell in the basement.

Basement areas are defined as enclosures placed directly under the building. These rooms are usually built below ground level, so they are prone to leakage problems, and usually lack adequate ventilation and heat. 

These factors play a major role in increasing the relative humidity of the room, which favours the growth of mold and mildews. 

This is where air dehumidifiers come in the picture, as they help dry out the air. These devices, as the name suggests, lower the humidity of the indoor environment, therefore keeping the air dry and hampering the growth of mold.

Other FAQs about Air Dehumidifiers that you may be interested in.

Will a dehumidifier get rid of the musty smell in basement

Will a dehumidifier help a stuffy room?


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