RTS Environmental Services, Inc.

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Does my home really need a Dehumidifier? What should I buy?

Dehumidifiers are critical for the health of your home, particularly if you have a basement that is sub grade.

Humidity is what contributes to mold growth! It only takes 60% relative humidity to grow a very common mold called Penicillium/Aspergillus.

Combined with dusts, humidity can wreak havoc on building materials like floor joists, subfloor plywood, drywall, studs, and bottom plates, and especially your most prized possessions!

Dehumidifiers act like an insurance policy for your basement. They reduce harmful humidity that can damage building materials.

Humidity moves into your home constantly due to atmospheric vapor pressure.

Every Home With A Basement Should Have One

Ok, so you are now convinced. So what kind should you buy?

Top things you need in a dehu:

  • Drains itself automatically via gravity or a pump
  • Has a sufficiently sized evaporator coil to keep up with moisture vapor that enters your home due to atmospheric conditions
  • Has adequate filtration capability to reduce dust and keep up the life of the evaporator coil
  • Reliability to perform for years to come and a good warranty

There are different types of dehumidifiers. Here is a quick rundown from least to most:

Less than $100. This is an example of a small-style dehumidifier. It doesn’t do anything and you should not buy it.
$250-350. This is an example of a consumer grade dehumidifier. It has a moderate capacity appropriate for spaces less than 500 sq. ft. This particular model has a pump built in making for easy emptying. In our experience these models will run performantly for about 3 years before needing replacement.
$1,000-1,200. This is an example of a large capacity residential use dehumidifier. These generally gravity drain and require a separate condensation pump ($100). These require professional installation and can handle a 500-1000 sq. ft. area. These are excellent choices for larger basements or crawl spaces. In our experience these models will run performantly for about 6-10 years before needing replacement.
This is an example of a commercial grade LGR dehumidifier. These provide powerful performance for disaster scenarios but are generally not an appropriate thing to install. They can dry out materials very quickly.

Our recommendation for purchase is always to go for more capacity than you might need, simply because this reduces the overall load of the dehumidifier and makes for better reliability over the long run.

If you have a basement that is 700 sq. ft. in size then you may be able to get away with the middle tier consumer grade unit. But understand that if the dehumidifier has to operate longer to keep up with the additional square footage, then you will likely need to replace the unit sooner than later.

Sometimes basements are fragmented into different rooms and spaces that encompass different air volumes, often separated by doors. A good example of this is if in a single family home you have an unfinished utility room in the basement that is closed by a door and an interior wall to the finished side of the basement. Although they may be less than 1,000 sq. ft. combined, they are different air volumes. This is why it is important to sometimes have 2 units for each space. Or alternatively to utilize the HVAC system to pull return air in and condition this air from the finished space, allowing the dehumidifier to operate in the unfinished utility space.

Some people ask us about electricity usage of these units. Most dehumidifiers only consume between .5 and .9 kwh depending on their usage. This is a very low cost in comparison to mold remediation, which for a 1,000 sq. ft. basement can cost tens of thousands of dollars including rebuild!

If you need assistance with deciding on the right size, model, and installation method we can help provide this as a service for your Maryland home.

Our installation services typically run $200 for the mid tier unit and $600-800 for the large capacity unit depending on location, electrical, and drain requirements.