If you own a dehumidifier, chances are that you’ve left it running too long at least once or twice. But is this dangerous? Are there health risks to leaving a dehumidifier running all day? Is it safe or necessary to have a dehumidifier running 24/7? We’ll find out below.
Why You Might Want to Run Your Dehumidifier All Day
There are several benefits to using a dehumidifier, and the positives may make you want to leave it running all the time. Before we discuss why this may or may not be a good idea, let’s discuss why running a dehumidifier for at least 12 hours a day to manage excess humidity in your home is a good idea.
Ease Respiratory Problems
Conditions like asthma and bronchitis can be aggravated by high humidity, so removing that water vapor can ease uncomfortable symptoms. Plus, mold and mildew growth caused by humid air can lead to breathing issues and other respiratory conditions like pneumonia.
Relieve Allergy Symptoms
If you have allergies, musty air can cause issues for you. Humid air can lead to reduced air quality. Allergens like dust mites and mold can cause issues for many people, including sinus pain, eye irritation, and more. While we don’t commonly think of our indoor air quality being filled with allergens, it can in fact carry all the same hazards as outdoor air.
Since standard compressor dehumidifiers cool the air as it passes through the coils and refrigerant, it can help relieve heat stress, reduce sweating and dehydration, and improve your mood to have the dehumidifier running all the time.
How Long Should I Run My Dehumidifier?
The golden rule is that a dehumidifier should run for 12 hours per day. This is enough time for it to clear the space of excess moisture and reach your desired humidity level, but it won’t overburden the components. Plus, the noise level won’t disturb you while you sleep. Since proper RH levels, or Relative Humidity levels, are between 40% and 50%, your machine should run long enough to cycle through all of the air in your space at least once. If your machine has a slower extraction rate, it is okay to leave it running longer to reach healthy levels of humidity.
What Happens if You Run a Dehumidifier Too Long?
There are some consequences to leaving a dehumidifier running too long. The first is to your electric bill. Though the cost may be low, your dehumidifier costs you money every hour that it runs. If you have the machine running when you don’t need it to reduce moisture, you’re losing money every extra minute that it is on.
The main consequence of running your dehumidifier all day is air that is too dry. Dry air can wreak all kinds of havoc in your home and on your health. The most common consequences of dry air are:
- Eye irritation
- Dry skin
- Asthma/bronchitis flare ups
- Sore or itchy throat
- Increased risk of cold or flu
- Increased risk of infection
You can also cause damage to the inner components if your dehumidifier is left working when it doesn’t need to be operating. Doing so can result in costly repairs or a shorter lifespan of the machine.
What If My Dehumidifier Has a Humidistat?
The benefit of using a dehumidifier with a humidistat or hygrometer is that it won’t run constantly. Instead, it will shut off by itself when the humidity level drops to or below your desired setting. Since the most dangerous part of leaving your dehumidifier running constantly is air that becomes too dry, this feature allows you to leave your dehumidifier turned on all the time – it just won’t always be running.
Can I Leave a Dehumidifier Running Unattended?
In general, a dehumidifier is safe to leave unattended. They don’t draw too much energy, and the quality standards ensure that an electrical fire are highly unlikely. That said, you can reduce risk even more by investing in a dehumidifier that has an auto-shutoff function so that the machine will turn off in case of a power surge or other hazard.
Plus, your dehumidifier can only be left unattended for so long if you must drain the reservoir manually. If it fills up, it may shut off or it may begin leaking, which can lead to all sorts of other issues. If you use a drainage hose, this is not a concern.
How to Make it Safer to Run Your Dehumidifier All Day
There are a few things you can do to make running a dehumidifier safer all around. The first is to read your user’s manual thoroughly before starting to use the machine. This will prevent fire hazards due to user error or manufacturer error since you’ll fully understand your appliance.
Second, prioritize continuous draining methods to ensure you won’t face leaks if the water reservoir fills up when you’re not around. If you don’t have a floor drain you can use, dehumidifiers with a pump can reach a higher drain area like a sink. To use dehumidifiers consistently without fear, using a drain hose is necessary. As an added bonus, it’s more convenient for you.
Another option is to use a desiccant dehumidifier instead of a compressor dehumidifier. These dehumidifiers don’t use refrigerated coils but instead soak in the water from humid air through the desiccant which acts like a sponge. They are also much safer in cooler areas like basements compared to compressor units, and they can handle the same high humidity levels.
An energy star rated dehumidifier will also make your average costs lower if you need to run the dehumidifier for longer periods during the warm season.