Dehumidifiers and Mold

There are many reasons to not want mold in your home. Besides the obvious fact that it’s unpleasant to see, smell, and even think about, mold can also cause a variety of health issues. Mold has been connected to respiratory problems, skin irritation, and itchy eyes. It is especially harmful to people with asthma or allergies, and can even lead to insects, dust mites, and other problems in the home.

High levels of humidity and dampness are commonly associated with mold, so if you want to reduce the chances of mold growth in your home, controlling humidity with a dehumidifier is a common strategy. The key is to get the humidity level below 50%. 30%-50% is ideal.

home with dehumidifier

Connection Between Moisture and Mold

Like any life form, mold needs food, proper conditions, and water to survive. For food, mold can consume a wide variety of substances, as long as those substances are organic materials. Leaves and decaying plants, for example, are common foods for mold outside. Inside, mold can get its nutrients from wood, paper, and natural fabrics like cotton, wool, and linen.

For proper conditions, mold generally needs that same temperatures that people find comfortable, although it can survive in colder weather and hot conditions. Anywhere between 50 to 70 degrees is perfect for mold to thrive.

Water is the next element that mold needs to survive, and mold can be incredibly resourceful when it comes to finding it. If there are puddles of water or damp materials, mold can begin to grow. Leaky pipes, seepage from old basement foundations, and wetness from sinks are often a source of mold, but, even if these sources aren’t present, this fungus can find a source of hydration.

If there is high humidity, mold can thrive. If the weather has been humid for a few days to a week, you may notice a moldy smell in your home. When it rains, it’s common to have mold growth starting on walls, floors, and other surfaces.

Mold is able to pull the moisture it needs straight from the air. When humidity is high, there can also be condensation, resulting in liquid water dripping into puddles. This liquid water becomes a source of moisture for mold, leading to significant issues in your home.

Fortunately, you can use a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air, taking away one of mold’s essential resources. There are also steps you can take to clean up mold.


How Do Dehumidifiers Fight Mold?

Dehumidifiers work to reduce the levels of relative humidity in the air. Humidity is simply a measurement of the amount of gaseous water being carried in the air. Relative humidity, which is measured in percentages, is the amount of mold air is carrying compared to the amount it could hold. So if relative humidity is 50%, the air is carrying half its moisture capacity.

A dehumidifier’s job is to remove moisture from the air, and while different appliances use various technologies to achieve this goal, they generally function under a few basic principles. However, you will find three basic types of dehumidifiers: a mechanical, an absorption, or an electronic dehumidifier.

Mechanical dehumidifiers, also known as refrigerative dehumidifiers, use a fairly simple process of pulling damp air over a cold coil, creating condensation. The condensation is allowed to drip off the coil and is then collected in a reservoir or directed to a drain through a hose. The often use the same cooling technologies found in refrigerators, and are likely the most common type of dehumidifier found on the market.

Absorption dehumidifiers use a desiccant to remove water from the air. A desiccant is simply a chemical substance that is able to create dryness in its general vicinity. For dehumidifiers, a the desiccant is often a silica gel. These dehumidifiers pull in air and move it across a rotating desiccant to create dryer conditions in the home.

The third type of dehumidifier is an electronic version. These basically use a heat pump that removes warmth from a surface. Condensation then occurs on the surface, removing water from the air. Although they are quiet, they tend to use a lot of energy. They can, however, be extremely effective for removing moisture from the air.

By removing moisture from the air, dehumidifiers are able to significantly reduce the chances of mold growth in a home. When mold is unable to get the water it needs, it cannot survive, which means it will have a much more difficult time staying alive, and the chances of mold actually expanding and thriving are minimal.


How Effective is a Dehumidifier?

It seems logical that reducing moisture levels in the air would reduce the frequency and severity of mold, but is there any scientific evidence to support this theory?

Turns out there are a few cases that display the connection between dehumidification and a reduction in mold.

A study from the University of Cincinnati sought to discover whether dehumidification, in conjunction with HEPA air purification, could reduce the levels of airborne mold spores in day care centers. The researchers used dehumidification and air filtration equipment on two different day care centers and discovered that the technologies were effective at controlling indoor relative humidity and airborne fungal spores in one of the two facilities. The study indicated (but did not prove) that using dehumidifiers as well as HEPA filtration is a feasible way to reduce airborne mold spores. Researchers even recommended that clinicians “emphasize to their patients the importance of dehumidification and HEPA filtration to improve indoor air quality in the home and workplace.”

Although not a scientific study, a case study from Bry-Air, a manufacturer of commercial dehumidifiers further supports the claim of dehumidification as a mold-fighting technique. In a case-study article, they discussed the needs of Heineken, a brewing company, which required dehumidification throughout their brewing process. They had difficulty with mold growing on walls and in hops-storage areas, due to the fact that brewing requires lots of water, as well as ingredients that provide excellent nutrients for mold. Using desiccant dehumidification, they were able to reduce mold and improve sanitary conditions throughout their brewing process.

Even the Environmental Protection Agency has commented on the importance of controlling humidity and moisture to control mold. According to their website, controlling moisture is important in the fight against mold, and it can help create better conditions for your home.


Other Ways to Control Mold

The best way to control mold in your home is by limiting overall relative humidity and excess moisture. This can be difficult, but with persistence and know-how, it can be done. Besides using a dehumidifier, there are other ways to reduce humidity.

Ventilation is an affordable and effective way to reduce excess moisture in your home. If you have wetness in the house caused by internal sources, such as leaky faucets or basement seepage, open the windows and let the fresh air flow into your home. Use fans to increase ventilation and you will significantly reduce the chances of mold and mildew growth.

You should also consider installing a whole-house fan, which moves air through the home and creates superior ventilation all through your house, or a whole-house dehumidifier.

Consistent cleaning of spills and wetness is also important. If you let spills linger, they can eventually become sources of moisture for mold, so clean any spills or drips as soon as possible. This is especially important in the bathrooms and kitchen, as these areas have the most chances for lingering wetness.


Air Purifiers: Serving a Different Purpose in the Fight Against Mold

Air purifiers can also be an important tool in preventing and eliminating mold, but they serve a different purpose. A dehumidifier makes the external conditions less welcoming to mold; by removing moisture, they reduce the chances of mold growth. An air purifier, however, removes mold spores from the air, making it harder for mold and mildew to create new colonies.

HEPA filters are one of the most important tools for removing mold. These filters can trap some of the smallest particles floating in the air, resulting in purer air throughout your entire home. Some air purifiers also use UV light to control mold. When mold spores are exposed to UV light, they are effectively destroyed, rendering the spores useless. Because the spores are unable to create new colonies, your chances of mold growth are reduced.


Finn HEPA UV Air Purifier

With both HEPA filtration and UV light, the Finn is one of the most effective air purifiers for mold removal. It removes 98% of airborne allergens and particles, and can effectively clean an area measuring 400 square feet. This makes it an ideal unit for bedrooms, as well as small living rooms or offices.


Reduce Your Chances of Mold with an Air Purifier from Oransi

Oransi air purifiers use the latest technologies and innovative designs to create world-class air purification. With quiet motors, efficient filters, and intuitive controls. These purifiers help you achieve excellent air in your home while controlling allergens from dust mites, pets, and other sources.

Contact our staff today to learn how you can enhance your indoor air with an Oransi air purifier.
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