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Dehumidifier Guide

Dehumidifier Benefits

There are many benefits to using a dehumidifier to decrease the moisture in your home environment. A dehumidifier can help do the following:

  • Aid in preventing dust mites, mildew and mold to relieve allergies and asthma
  • Remove a sticky feeling from a damp basement or crawl space
  • Alleviate creaking floors
  • Help end frequent condensation on windows and mirrors

How Dehumidifiers Work & Styles

How Dehumidifiers Work

First, the unit pulls air in through a vent, and then forces it over cool coils to condense the moisture. Dry air is then expelled back out into your home, and the moisture drips through the coils to a receptacle that will need to be emptied occasionally. Some units may also include a drain feature for use by a floor-level drain or sink.

Dehumidifier Styles

Portable Dehumidifiers

Portable Dehumidifiers are typically smaller than other designs and are self-contained to allow for movement wherever they are needed. Because of this, they typically work best in small- to medium-sized rooms. See our chart on dehumidifier capacity to find the best humidifier for you.

Whole Home Dehumidifiers

Whole Home Dehumidifiers are usually larger but are not always self-contained. The size and weight of larger whole home dehumidifiers can limit their portability. However, larger models usually have the capacity to dehumidify multiple rooms. See our chart on dehumidifier capacity to find the best humidifier for you.

Dehumidifier Capacity

The capacity of a dehumidifier unit is measured in the amount of moisture extracted per 24 hours. (Usually in pints.) The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) recommends choosing a dehumidifier based on size and conditions as follows:

Condition prior to dehumidifying
500 sq. ft.
1,000 sq. ft.
1,500 sq. ft.
2,000 sq. ft.
2,500 sq. ft.
Moderately damp with musty odors in humid weather
10 pints
14 pints
18 pints
22 pints
26 pints
Very damp with odors and damp spots, always feels wet
12 pints
17 pints
22 pints
27 pints
32 pints
Wet with sweating walls or seepage, feels and smells wet
14 pints
20 pints
26 pints
32 pints
38 pints
Extremely wet with wet floors and high-load conditions
16 pints
23 pints
30 pints
37 pints
44 pints

Source: Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers

Dehumidifier Features to Consider

  • Auto Humidistat: This feature automatically turns the unit on and off to maintain a pre-selected humidity level and save energy by shutting off once that level is reached.
  • Automatic Shutoff: Another feature to save you energy and give you peace of mind, auto shutoff turns the dehumidifier off when the tank is full. This is often a standard feature found on many dehumidifiers.
  • Auto Reset: Automatically turns the unit back on after a power outage. This feature is especially handy when continually using a dehumidifier while away from home.
  • Timers: A handy feature to allow you to set the dehumidifier to turn on and off at certain times of day, saving you time and energy costs.
  • Remote Control: A dehumidifier with a remote allows you to adjust the settings from the couch or across the room for convenience.
  • Internal Pump: A unit with an internal pump usually features a hose you can run out a window or to a sink drain so you can enjoy continuous use without worrying about emptying a full tank.
  • Direct Drain: A connection that allows you to drain water through a hose into a floor-level drain so you can enjoy continuous use without emptying a tank.
  • Signal Light: This light indicates when the water tank is full.
  • Washable Air Filter: An air filter helps to keep your air clean and free from dust and other impurities. Choosing a design with a washable and easily removable filter will make dehumidifier maintenance a breeze.
  • Filter Indicator: This light signals when the filter needs to be changed.
  • Multi-Speed Fan: This handy feature allows you to change the fan speed depending on the time of day, amount of moisture in the air, or the room you're using the unit in. Choosing a dehumidifier with a multi-speed fan also allows you to save energy and control noise.
  • Energy Star Rated Designs: Choosing an Energy Star rated dehumidifier helps ensure an energy-efficient unit, saving you money.
  • Auto Defrost: Automatically turns the unit off when frost begins to form on the coils. This feature helps to keep the unit from wasting energy when frost prevents proper operation.
  • Casters: This feature is often standard on most portable units. Casters make it even easier to move your portable dehumidifier anywhere you want.

Use, Safety & Maintenance


  • Follow the instructions in your owner's manual to set up the direct drain hose or internal pump
  • Set the humidity level to the highest setting to stabilize the room's humidity
  • After a couple of cycles, change the setting to any humidity level you choose


  • Plug the unit in to an appropriate ground fault circuit interrupter outlet. (This is a water-resistant outlet normally found near a sink or shower.)
  • Never remove the third prong on an plug
  • Keep the unit at least 6" away from walls or furniture so air can circulate freely


  • Follow the instructions in your owner's manual for cleaning and filter changes
  • Check and clean the air filter regularly to maintain optimal performance
  • Clean the coils and tank often to keep the unit working properly
  • Always unplug the unit before any cleaning or maintenance
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