Many parents are unknowingly putting their children at risk by allowing them to play in areas of the home where mildew may be present. Being noisy, overly energetic creatures children are often relegated to the basement.
Many a weary mother thinks of the basement playroom as the next best thing to a nanny. But, by doing this you may be placing them in the part of the home that is the dampest. You wouldn’t work in a mildewed office, so why expect your children to play where mold lives.
What to do
Therefore, if you find the basement damp a dehumidifier may be an inexpensive solution to this problem. A dehumidifier is somewhat of a crossbreed. It is a mixture of a refrigerator and an air conditioner.
It is designed to do only one thing – remove moisture from the air. No other appliance can do this as well. It is similar to an air conditioner because both will remove moisture from the room air. But while an air conditioner cools the room, a dehumidifier will actually add heat the room as it works.
So at those times of the year when the room feels damp but the room temperature is already cool, the dehumidifier becomes king. It is somewhat of a niche product. But, for anyone with a damp room or basement it can be an appliance worth its weight in gold.
Symptoms of excess humidity
Too much moisture in a room can leave the air feeling uncomfortable. It can even cause wood to swell and crack, harming any furniture, tables, or wooden items. Irreplaceable family treasures such as stored clothing, photograph albums, pictures, and books can be permanently damaged. Walls and floors (including carpets) can take on too much moisture. Even metal is affected – primarily by rusting prematurely.
Without a dehumidifier there is an increased possibility of mold and mildew building up on the walls. Both have been linked to the increased incidence of asthma, especially in children. Adding a dehumidifier to the home may help your children in later years.
They do require some work on your part. That is, you have to empty the water collection bucket. Make sure the one you obtain has a light to indicate when the bucket is full. It is easy to forget that at certain times of the year this may have to be done every few days. The indicator light quickly reminds you.
Also make sure it comes with a spigot at the bottom of the drain pan. This is a threaded nozzle at the rear of the machine that empties into the water bucket. Some models have a hose connection attached to the water bucket itself – this works just as well. It allows a drain hose (an old piece of a lawn hose) to be attached. This eliminates the need for the bucket. It will drain the water into the hose, which can be directed into a floor drain.
While most people leave them on the floor, some consumers install the dehumidifier above a sink to allow for easy draining. The over the sink method works but limits their usage to one area. Also regular maintenance such as cleaning the filter becomes difficult. Simply leaving the dehumidifier on the floor is usually more convenient. Plus it allows it to be quickly moved to others rooms, if required.
With a lawn hose added for draining, the distance between dehumidifier and drain hole becomes virtually unlimited. Remember water will always flow downhill. Therefore if the drain hole is lower than the drain spigot on the dehumidifier the water will run down the hose.
If unsure of spigot to floor drain levels, pour water into the dehumidifier end of hose while slowly raising hose into the air. Keep raising hose until water drains out the lower end. (This may take a couple of tries because the hose must be full of water for it to work).
The level at which the water runs out is how high above floor level the dehumidifier end of the hose must be raised to ensure proper drainage. Once done the dehumidifier becomes fully automatic. You should never have to empty the machine again.
A dehumidifier will not operate efficiently if the room temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Below this temperature the cooling coils will begin to frost up and very little moisture will be removed from the air. This usually occurs at the same time of year as you begin to feel the need to turn on the furnace. Some de-humidifiers even have a sensor to turn them off when the room temperature is too low.
If the amount of water being removed by the dehumidifier drops off suddenly, suspect the room temperature. If this slowing of water production seems to occur earlier in the season than last year, then also suspect a dirty filter or a dehumidifier that requires maintenance.
As an aside to the above advantages of the dehumidifier there is one other. Free distilled water. That water you are emptying from the dehumidifier is valuable. All the time the machine operates you have access to an unlimited supply of distilled water. Some people have a hose attached to the outlet of the dehumidifier drain. This way it drains into a clean pan or bottle which they put to use later.
Distilled water can be used in items such as the steam iron, or other appliances that require de-mineralized water. Others use it for watering household plants. So don’t buy distilled water for the house when you can get it for free.