Three Things to Look for When Buying a Dehumidifier

The easiest way to keep basements, cellars and storage rooms dry.

Woman changing dehumidifier.
Keep things drier...with a dehumidifier.Getty Images

Whether you’ve had a leak that can’t be fixed until the room has dried out or you have a long-term issue with damp, a dehumidifier can help keep your home dry, sanitary and smelling fresh.

Honeywell, White TP50WK Energy Star Dehumidifier for Medium Basement & Living Room up to 3000 sq. ft with Anti-Spill Design & Filter Change Alert
More efficient than standard models, this removes up to 30 pints of moisture every 24 hours, and comes with a digital humidistat to sense when it’s required.Honeywell

We’re not saying that size is everything, it’s just that when it comes to dehumidifiers, it kind of is. Although maybe capacity is a better word. Basically, if you’ve got a large room you want a dehumidifier that can remove a large volume of water, otherwise it’s like trying to bail out an ocean liner with a teacup—it’s going to take a while, and you might find the water comes in faster than you can bail it out. So, measure your space, and buy accordingly. Quick point: the Department of Energy changed its testing protocol in 2019. Dehumidifiers used to be tested to see how much water they could remove in 24 hours at 80°F and 60% relative humidity. Now they’re tested at 65°F and 60% relative humidity, which means that a machine that was certified to remove 70 pints in 2012, would only get a 50 pint rating in 2019, so make sure you’re comparing ratings from the same year for like-for-like comparisons.

Waykar 40 Pint Dehumidifier for Home and Basements in Spaces up to 2000 Sq Ft,Auto or Manual Drain
With 6.56 ft drainage hose as well as a built-in tank that automatically shuts off when full and lights up to prompt you to empty it, this compact machine is ideal for cozy spaces.Waykar

So you’ve figured out what capacity dehumidifier you need, now you just have to figure out where all the water goes. Some will have an internal tank that fills up and requires emptying—make sure you check that the one you’re buying has an auto shutoff mode for when the tank is full, and ideally an audio alert as well as a flashing light. Others may have a hose that you can feed directly into a sink or drain so they can keep running continuously. If you do want one with a drain hose, check the length of the hose before you buy and ensure that you have enough length to reach your drainage point.

Honeywell Large SqFt Design & Filter Change Alert, TP70WKN, White TP70WK 70 Pint Energy Star Dehumidifier for Basement & Large Room Up to 4000 Sq Ft. with Anti-Spill Design
Comes with hose and tank drainage options, digital humidistat and a washable filtration system that alerts you when it needs attention.Honeywell

Despite all this talk of dehumidifiers pulling pints of moisture, what they’re really doing is sucking in the damp air, and while the moisture in the air condenses to form the water that collects in the tank, the filter becomes the repository for dust, bacteria, mildew, mold and more. So in order to keep your dehumidifier functioning at maximum efficiency, the filter needs to be cleaned regularly. If you’re likely to forget this crucial point, look for a machine that has an alert that will prompt you to clean the filter when it needs doing.

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