Forgive me readers for I have broken my trend.
It has be two weeks since my last posting instead of my normal 5 -7 days. But I’ve been trapped under a huge mass of humidity. Furthermore, the relentless wet weather we’ve been having has led me to have inappropriate thoughts of moving to Utah. Fortunately, given my huge aversion to canyons, I’m not likely to follow through with this impulse.
Seriously, the unusually wet weather has left me in a weakened state of mind and body, if not in spirit. Not only is the weather affecting my knee joints, which are noisier than ever, but managing the moisture load in my home has become yet another daily task I must do – like walking the dog and cleaning out the litter box.
I purchased a portable dehumidifier this spring thinking it would get us through the shoulder seasons when the outdoor temperature is too cool for the air conditioner to operate enough to dehumidify the air—primarily spring and early fall. I anticipated being able to retire the dehumidifier by the end of June, when surely our usual 90-degree days and drought summer conditions would kick in. Now it’s the middle of July and that still hasn’t happened and the 70-pint dehumidifier I bought has been running pretty much non-stop since the day I first plugged it in. I hate consuming that energy, but I also hate waking up to 68% humidity in my home. Cool nights keep the air conditioning from coming on while the rain we’ve had keeps moisture accumulating inside the home while we sleep. It’s a bad combination for indoor comfort, especially in the morning.
That’s what we’ve been facing here in North Carolina, where Raleigh has reported only two days over 90-degrees this year. Compare that to 39 days in 2012 and 51 days in 2011. At the same time, cumulative rainfall in the Raleigh-Durham area has be over 19-inches since April 15, which is a whopping 9-inches above average!
25+ Gallons of Moisture A Day!
I’m fairly astounded by the amount of moisture the dehumidifier is pulling out of the air in my home – over 25 gallons in less than a 24-hour period. I do not have it connected to a drain by a hose, so I actually have to manually empty the 70-pint bucket at least three times a day. If I actually got up in the middle of the night to empty the bucket I’m sure my totals would exceed 30-gallons. When the bucket fills up, an internal float shuts the unit off, so the bucket doesn’t overflow. It’s not exactly an ideal solution but as I mentioned, I hadn’t expected to need it quite this long. As it is, I’m managing to keep the humidity in my home in the low 50’s with the dehumidifier and limited operation of my air conditioning system.
All this hands-on dehumidification has taught me a few lessons – and created some additional questions. First, I was hesitant to purchase a larger dehumidification unit because of the price jump between a 70-pint unit and anything higher. I researched a lot of consumer opinions on the web before I decided to purchase a 70-pint unit for $250.00. My main concern was that I would get a few years operation out of it before it went caput. Portable dehumidifiers are notorious for not lasting very long. I wonder now if I’d been better off with a larger unit that would occasionally turn off. But higher capacity units tend to have more bells and whistles than I thought I needed for my seasonal requirements and they also cost a lot more.
If we had a floor drain we could operate this unit continuously without my having to empty it three times a day since it does have a hose attachment feature. Unfortunately, we don’t have a location that would allow the unit to drain by gravity. Other more expensive units offer the convenience of a built-in pump to push the water through a hose and into a sink drain. The unit we have is pretty rudimentary with a fan, cooling coil, washable filter, and a built-in drain bucket. But, according to the reviews I read, it has a decent track record for longevity. So that’s what I chose, since there’s almost someone in the home to dump the bucket.
That brings up another dilemma which I’ve yet to solve. What should I do with all that water? I hate pouring it down the drain, and occasionally I do lug it out to water some plants on the porch. But, given all the rainfall we’re having, we hardly need the extra irrigation for our predominantly drought resistant plantings.
I’d love to hear what other homeowners in waterlogged parts of the country are doing to maintain reasonable indoor humidity in their homes. Like I said, I know my solution is imperfect but it was a compromise based on lifestyle, budget, and our intermittent needs. Your solution for seasonal indoor humidity may have broader appeal. Either way, I’d like to hear about it!
P.S. I can’t really blame the weather for my week-late post. That had more to do with kids, work, and vacation. But the part about my knees is completely true.