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When to Use a Dehumidifier in Your Home

How do you know when to use a dehumidifier in your home? Learn about optimal humidity levels for home comfort, your health, and protecting your home from high humidity.

May 1, 2024

We’re all familiar with the feeling of walking into a wall of humidity when we step outside on a muggy summer day. Not a good feeling. High humidity can leave you feeling uncomfortable and sticky. While you can’t do much about high humidity outdoors, you don’t have to suffer with it inside your home.

In this article, we will cover

  • Understanding Humidity Levels
  • Signs You Need a Dehumidifier
  • How a Dehumidifier Works
  • When You Should Use a Dehumidifier
  • Trane’s Whole Home Dehumidifiers

Keep reading to understand what high humidity is and the dangers it can pose to your health and your home, as well as how a dehumidifier can provide a solution.

Understanding Humidity Levels

Humidity is the level of moisture in the air. Indoor humidity levels affect your comfort level and should be maintained within a recommended range to prevent problems. The best humidity level for your home is a subjective number, according to the  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),. the best indoor humidity ranges between 30-50%. 

The best humidity level for the home in winter to keep your home warm and cozy is somewhere between 30% and 40%, In summer, between 40-50% should be comfortable. 

What is considered high humidity?

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, Heating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) says indoor humidity above 60% is considered high. But for comfort, when the humidity level rises above 55% you can start to feel sticky and uncomfortable. If it rises above 60%, you may start to suffer from health issues and see physical evidence of high humidity.

Signs You Need a Dehumidifier

The signs you need a dehumidifier are the signs of high humidity. They include:

  • Feeling sticky and clammy even when the AC is running
  • Asthma and allergy symptoms
  • Musty odors
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Excessive condensation on the inside of windows and walls
  • Mold and mildew growth
  • And more

You can see and feel some of the signs of high humidity in your home. However, it’s important to know that high humidity can trigger allergy symptoms and asthma attacks. A big reason for that? Dust mites and other pests thrive in a high-humidity environment.

Using a dehumidifier can help improve your comfort level, improve indoor air quality (IAQ), and reduce the other problems associated with high humidity.

How Does a Dehumidifier Work?

A dehumidifier’s job is to remove excess moisture in the air. Portable units and whole-house units work in much the same way. The dehumidifier draws warm, moist air into the unit. The air passes over a refrigerant coil, which condenses the air, removing moisture drop by drop. The unit then sends the drier air back into circulation.

In a portable unit, the water collects in a bucket or reservoir which you have to empty periodically. With a whole-house dehumidifier, the water pulled from the air goes into a drain line and exits your home.

A whole-house dehumidifier is generally less expensive to run, more efficient, and easier to maintain - no dumping buckets of water!

When Should You Use a Dehumidifier?

You should use a dehumidifier any time the humidity level in your home reaches 55% or above. 

There are some one-time issues where a portable dehumidifier can be a good solution. This can include drying out a room after a pipe bursts or drying out after basement flooding.

For our purposes, we will discuss when using a whole-house dehumidifier might be a better solution. These are situations where there is a long-standing issue with high humidity in more than one room.

Examples include:

  • You live in an area where there is high humidity for most of the year.
  • If you have high humidity in multiple rooms or on multiple floors.
  • You have a single-stage air conditioner/heat pump.
  • You have a high-performance home with tight or foam insulation
  • You’re seeing signs of damage from high humidity

Should I use a dehumidifier in summer or winter?

While summer may be when to run a dehumidifier for most people, if you live in one of the most humid states or most humid cities, you may need to run a dehumidifier in the winter as well. Air is generally less humid in colder temperatures, but if you have mild weather in the winter and high humidity, run the dehumidifier for comfort.

With a whole-house dehumidifier, you don’t have to worry about checking the humidity level in your home. The HVAC system monitors humidity levels and will run the dehumidifier whenever humidity rises beyond a set level. In general, the unit will run more in the summer, especially if you have a single-stage air conditioner that struggles with dehumidifying the air.

Should you run a dehumidifier all the time?

If you’re using a portable unit to resolve a one-time issue, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Many units shut off automatically when the water reservoir is full anyway.

Whole-house dehumidifiers are designed to run continuously or to run on demand. The controls within the unit will optimize run time to deliver precise humidity control to the home. Compared to typical portable units, whole-home units provide much greater capacity to remove moisture from the home. Whole-home systems are much more powerful and efficient.

Trane’s Whole-Home Dehumidifiers with Optional Ventilation

As an industry leader in home comfort, Trane offers whole-home dehumidifiers with optional ventilation to provide high humidity control for homes across the country. Some key features of these units include:

  • Suitable for homes up to 3,000 sq. ft.
  • Removes up to 120 pints from the air per day
  • Fresh air ventilation options
  • MERV 13 air filtration for improved indoor air quality
  • High-performing and efficient
  • May be added to an existing HVAC system or used as a standalone unit
  • Smart home connectivity for remote control with the Trane Home App

The best way to know if a whole-home dehumidifier is the right solution for your home is to consult with an HVAC professional. 

Fix the Cause of High Humidity

It’s important to note that you need to get to the root cause of high humidity and fix the problem if you can.

This could include:

  • Fixing a leaky pipe
  • Basement waterproofing
  • Improving ventilation

Of course, you can’t fix the weather. But by adding a whole-house dehumidifier, you can increase your comfort level year-round,

Contact Your Local Trane Comfort Specialist

Do you live where the air is humid all year long? Does your air conditioner struggle to dehumidify your home in the summer? Installing a whole-house dehumidifier might be the solution.  Contact your local Trane Comfort Specialist for a personalized consultation. 

When you choose Trane for your HVAC and humidity control needs, you get energy-efficient, quality equipment backed by some of the best warranties in the industry.

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