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What is a Dehumidifier and How Does it Work?

What is a dehumidifier and how does it work?

Those in humid regions such as Pennsylvania are no strangers to the sticky, wet presence of humidity. It can even permeate the air in our homes. The humidity levels inside can be made worse by condensation created from cooking or doing laundry too. This can lead to discomfort, reduced air quality, and a higher risk of mold. 

Dehumidifiers set out to remove excess moisture from the air in a home.

What is a Dehumidifier? 

Dehumidifiers are a popular appliance many people in humid regions have in their homes. Just as the name implies, it reduces the humidity levels in a living space. Essentially, it takes in air, separates out the moisture, and blows it out again. This cycle continues as the air picks up excess moisture.  

How Do They Work? 

There are two main methods a dehumidifier removes moisture from the air: through absorption or through refrigeration. Let’s break down how each of these works. 


This method involves using a water-holding medium to absorb moisture from the air. Later, this material is ringed out to remove any collected water. 

A Step-By-Step Look at the Process 

  1. Moist air is collected through a duct. 
  2. This air is then introduced to a rotating wheel of the water-holding medium. Moisture is absorbed as the air is continuously drawn in by a fan. 
  3. The dehumidified air is cycled back into the room by a blower. 
  4. Hot air is blown past the moisture-absorbing wheel to dry it out. 
  5. Hot air used to dry the wheel and any remaining moisture is blown out through an exhaust duct.   


This type of dehumidifier borrows technology from refrigerators and air conditioners. It uses cold mechanisms to remove moisture from the air. 

A Step-By-Step Look at the Process 

  1. The moist air enters the machine through a grille. 
  2. As a fan draws the air in, it passes through freezing cold pipes. These pipes are filled with a coolant solution similar to what you would find in an AC or refrigerator. As the pipes cool down the air, the water turns from a vapor back into a liquid. This liquid will then drip from the pipes into a collection basin below. 
  3. Next, the moisture-free air passes through hot pipes to warm back up to its original temperature. This air is then sent back into the room through another grille. 
  4. When the basin that collects the liquid water fills up, the machine will turn off and indicate it’s time to empty out its collection basin. 

Reasons to Have a Dehumidifier 

Unchecked humidity levels can wreak havoc on your home. From your health to your personal belongings, you can run into a lot of issues if you let unchecked moisture run rampant. Here are some of the reasons to invest in a dehumidifier. 

Prevent Mold

Mold thrives off moisture. If you live in an area with naturally high humidity, a dehumidifier can help combat potential mold outbreaks. If you get the humidity levels in your home under control, you’re less likely to see mold crop up on your clothes, furniture, and old storage cardboard boxes. Be sure to put your dehumidifier in high-moisture areas such as the basement, kitchen, or bathroom. 

Protect Electronics

Electronics aren’t built to withstand high humidity levels. That’s why you’ll often see silica packets included with new electronics when you first remove them from their packaging. Dehumidifiers can prevent rust or short circuits from occurring in your phones, computers, cameras, and more.

Increase Air Quality and Environment 

Dehumidifiers can efficiently reduce mold and dust in your home. They can also help deter cockroaches, silverfish, and spiders from taking up residence in your dwelling. 

Better For Your Health  

Increased air quality can lead to better health. Dehumidifiers may cut down symptoms associated with allergies such as wheezing, sneezing, eye irritation, and more. They can also alleviate symptoms associated with asthma. 

Helps Cool Air Faster 

Less moisture in the air can make for more efficient temperature regulation. The heavy, dense feeling of humidity can make a room feel a lot hotter. A dehumidifier will help level out humidity levels so the air will feel lighter and cooler. This can help you cut back on your AC usage.

Be Sure Your HVAC is Doing Its Part 

Dehumidifiers and your HVAC system work in tandem to assure the climate in your home is ideal. If you feel that your heating and cooling system isn’t running as optimally as it could be, give WM Buffington a call! We specialize in HVAC service, repair, and installation in the Central Pennsylvania area. 

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