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Dehumidifiers have long been relied on to keep moisture levels constant in a residential, commercial or industrial space, and they perform this role well. But why is it important to maintain moisture levels, and which dehumidifier is right for a given area? The vast number of applications that dehumidifiers offer is impressive, and extends beyond concerns regarding comfort, though they are ideal at producing a comfortable space. They are also relied on to help repair water damage and protect valuable machinery.

The Many Jobs of a Dehumidifier

In general, dehumidifiers come in two forms – residential and commercial/industrial. Residential dehumidifiers are smaller and less expensive, while commercial dehumidifiers are larger and more durable. But at their core, both residential and commercial dehumidifiers operate using the same kind of technology. The real difference is between condensation and desiccant dehumidifiers.

  1. Condensation dehumidifiers – Condensation dehumidifiers have been around longer and are still represented to a greater degree. They operate by pulling in warmer, humid air and running the air over a set of cooling coils. When the air comes in contact with these coils, its temperature drops, as well as its ability to hold onto moisture (warmer air is capable of higher levels of humidity). Water vapor condenses onto the coils as a result and is collected for removal. The dry air is pumped back into the room, and the process starts again. Condensation dehumidifiers are more efficient at higher temperatures and they maintain humidity levels well.
  2. Desiccant dehumidifiers – Desiccant dehumidifiers do not operate using a temperature gradient. Instead, they are designed with a rotary disk that is impregnated with highly absorptive materials like silica gel. Silica gel, like any other desiccant, is filled with millions of microscopic cavities that attract moisture using a vapor pressure gradient. In other words, water vapor is effectively “pushed” into the desiccant. Desiccant dehumidifiers will not freeze and are more economical when operating at lower dew points.

That’s the technology, but what can that technology do? There are several applications of a dehumidifier, and they include:

  1. Improving comfort – Perhaps the most popular reason for installing dehumidifiers is to make a space feel more comfortable. Higher levels of relative humidity make air feel heavier, which can make breathing and temperature regulating more difficult. Dehumidifiers are, of course, ideal for controlling relative humidity, which dries the air and makes a room, or even an entire house or commercial property, feel more comfortable.
  2. Protecting sensitive equipment – In industrial settings, like manufacturing or packaging facilities, there is a great deal of equipment that must be protected from all sorts of environmental stressors. Chief among these stressors is moisture, as industrial equipment is designed with sensitive electronics. When moisture infiltrates industrial equipment, it can clog the equipment up and make it stick, a problem known as moisture regaining. Moisture can also condense on the electronics themselves, increasing the chances of a short occurring. Finally, moisture speeds up corrosion processes and can degrade materials that are sensitive to water. Industrial dehumidifiers, which are capable of removing hundreds of pints of water from the air every day, are designed to maintain humidity levels in a large facility. The presence of a dehumidifier will ensure extended performance of equipment and less downtime.
  3. Repairing water damage – Commercially, dehumidifiers play a role in water damage restoration processes. Restoration firms are often tasked with drying out a waterlogged home or business that has been wracked by floods, sewage backflows or burst plumbing. In these settings, time is of the essence, as mold can begin growing in water damaged properties within 48 hours, and once it takes root, it can be extremely difficult to remove. Commercial dehumidifiers, in tandem with air movers and heat injectors, are relied on to quickly pick up a lot of ambient water vapor and vent it to the outside. Several are typically needed for badly damaged buildings, but they can typically get the job done within a few days.

Dehumidifiers are a key element of any building maintenance plan, and can be scaled up or down for a property of any size or purpose. Modern dehumidifiers run quietly, are efficient and rarely require maintenance, making them a dependable workhorse for any application.

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