Dehumidifiers Tips

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How quickly should I dry out the flooded areas in my home?

Minor Flooding, Dehumidifiers and Mold

A "minor flood" can be anything from an overflowing toilet to an inch of rainwater in your basement area. Even this amount of water can be enough to invite mold growth if the right procedures aren't followed. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends dehumidifying the flooded areas as quickly as possible, 24 hours or earlier after the incident is optimal. Simply letting fresh air circulate in the damp areas may not be enough.

If you don't already own dehumidifiers, you should purchase one or more and allow the wet areas to be completely dried out. When you are remodeling the damaged areas, be sure to add mold inhibitors to any paints used to give added protection.

What can I do to control mold in frequently damp areas?

Frequent Flooding? Constant Damp?

Air dehumidifiers can be used to control mold growth in areas of the home that are more susceptible to dampness. You should also avoid using carpet and upholstered furniture in these areas, as they will provide breeding grounds for mold. You may not be able to see the mold growing, as many times the contamination happens underneath the carpet and furniture.

Basement dens, lounge areas, and other potentially damp areas are vulnerable to mold unless dehumidifiers are used on a regular basis to control the air. Condensation is a problem in basement areas, but you can fight it by covering pipes and other moisture collecting surfaces with insulation. In addition to running a dehumidifier, it's important to use fans to increase fresh air circulation. These things used together will all go a long way towards preventing mold growth.

How can I keep mold out of my dehumidifier?

Mold In My Dehumidifier?

It's true, without routine maintenance and cleaning of your dehumidifier, the machine itself can grow mold. It's very important to clean the water holding compartment with a diluted bleach solution once a month or so. This will prevent mold from growing there, and getting blown out into the air as the machine operates.

For maximum efficiency you should also clean dirty condenser coils with a vacuum using the brush attachment, and clean the mesh filter using a soap and water solution.

If after cleaning your dehumidifier you find that it is not operating properly, double-check your room temperature. Many manufacturers recommend you operate their products at temperatures higher than 65 degrees for best results.

How can I use a dehumidifier to fight mold?

How to Use a Dehumidifier to Fight Mold

Mold grows best in damp and warm conditions. The air dehumidifier is an excellent tool to help fight mold growth, especially when used in conjunction with two other tools; your air conditioner and a humidity gauge. The humidity gauge does just what the name implies; giving you a reading for how much humidity is in the air. You want to operate your dehumidifier so that your humidity gauge gives a relative humidity reading of between 30 and 50 percent. Mold likes to grow in temperatures between 77 and 86 degrees. Set thermostats to keep the temperatures out of these ranges. With these three tools, you can prevent new mold growth in your home or apartment.

Can mold form in the winter?

Summer Heat Isn't the Only Cause of Mold

Depending on where and how you live, it may be necessary to operate an air dehumidifier in the wintertime to prevent mold. Summer heat isn't the only problem!

Did you know that when heating your home you could create conditions ripe for mold growth? This is because anytime the temperature controlled air in your home contacts a cooler surface such as pipes in the basement, glass windows, mirrors, and other cool surfaces, condensation can form. The warm air of the home, combined with a buildup of condensation can allow mold to grow in bathroom areas, windowsills, basements, and other vulnerable spots. You can control the relative humidity with home dehumidifier, but also run ceiling fans to help prevent condensation on skylights or roof windows. Shorter showers, cooking with lids on your pots, and cracking open your windows slightly can also help prevent moisture buildup.

How does humidity affect my indoor air quality?

Humidity and Indoor Air Quality

High humidity and moisture creates conditions ripe for mold growth. Mold is listed as an environmental hazard by the CDC, and those who are sensitive to mold should be very informed as to how it can enter the home, how it grows, and becomes a problem.

Did you know that mold-sensitive people are advised to avoid wooded areas and piles of cut grass? It's true. In the right conditions, mold can be found everywhere, especially in the home where sources of heat and moisture can go undiscovered until the mold is already growing there. A good dehumidifier can help in these cases, as well as good temperature control in the home. You may need a basement dehumidifier, or a unit for the bathroom, or possibly a larger solution for the whole home, depending on where you live. Wherever you place the unit, be sure to also double check the area for leaks, condensation, and other moisture factors that can be corrected for maximum mold control. You may need to do some repairs!

I rent and have mold problems. Help!

Renting With Mold

Those who rent rather than own their own homes may feel they have no choice but to put up with mold problems, but fortunately that is simply not true. To start, you should take control of your own living space with a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers come in various sizes and power ranges that are appropriate for small apartments or rental spaces. Follow all the recommended mold control guidelines for your living space. Here are some basic tips to follow to help combat mold:

-Replace moldy shower curtains
-Clean mold from surfaces underneath sinks, behind your fridge, etc.
-If you have mold in the carpeted areas of your rental unit, you will need to get in touch with your landlord or building superintendent to fix the problem.
-When reporting mold problems, be sure to report where you encountered the mold, the presence and location of any leaks, high humidity and excessive moisture, and other unusual circumstances that may be contributing to the problem.

What should I do after a flood to prevent mold?

Floods, High Humidity, and Mold

Those who live in the wake of Gulf Coast hurricanes know about mold issues all too well, but those who experience flooding for the first time may not realize the full implications of the flood waters until they have receded and recovery operations are well under way. Flooding, combined with high humidity and heat, means the onset of mold growth. Even something as comparatively minor as a flooded out basement can become a huge health issue due to mold. If you are dealing with flood issues, here are some very important things to consider:

1. Replace all insulation touched by floodwaters. Even if the insulation is only slightly damp, it is a virtual mold incubator.

2. As soon as possible, get the flooded areas of your home and office to a strict climate control situation. Do not allow unrestricted temperature fluctuations if you can help it.

3. Employ dehumidifiers as soon as possible in addition to strict temperature controls.

4. Do not hesitate to completely remove damp wood, carpets, tile, sheetrock, and other potential mold-growth areas. Even a damp drop-ceiling panel should be disposed of right away to prevent mold growth.

Ignoring these mold hotspots will increase your mold issues later on, and could complicate the rebuilding process.

Can a dehumidifier malfunction and contribute to my mold issues or sick building syndrome?

Dehumidifiers and Large Buildings

The American Lung Association recommends the use of dehumidifiers as part of any attempt to remedy sick building syndrome? One important side issue the ALA raises is the importance of routine maintenance on any air control device including the Whirlpool dehumidifiers (or other brands) as part of any aggressive prevention program with regard to sick building syndrome.

When doing your routine maintenance, it's important to check the drainage systems for HVAC and central air systems, as well as dehumidifiers. Should drains become blocked or if drain hoses become bent or kinked, this may cause overflow back into the building, creating the same conditions ripe for mold infestation and other problems. If you purchased new equipment to assist in your efforts to fight sick building syndrome, be sure to ask if routine maintenance by a company rep is included in your warranty.

How can a dehumidifier help me feel cooler?

Dehumidifiers and Air Temperature

Humidity doesn't just contribute to mold growth, it also adds to your discomfort level in the summer time. Many people have learned by accident that a dehumidifier can make 80-degree temperatures feel much cooler simply by removing "oppressive" moisture in the air.

Fortunately, the comfort level setting you'll need to make heat more bearable in the summer months is in the same zone as the humidity levels needed to prevent mold growth. If you keep the home humidity at 50 percent or lower, you will find high heat much less uncomfortable. An air dehumidifier is perfect for those who don't have central air. In other areas where central air is a way of life, you may be just as much in need of the benefits of a dehumidifier because of very humidity in these areas during the summer.

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Patricia Walters-Fischer