7 Signs You Need a Dehumidifier

07/21/2016 09:45 am ET Updated Jul 22, 2017

If you have a home that seems to have a dampness problem, it might be time to look for a dehumidifier. When excess moisture is detected in your home, first you should figure out the cause, then take steps to remedy the problem. Here, we'll look at seven signs that indicate you might need a dehumidifier.

1. Mold spots on the ceiling or corners

If you notice mold anywhere in your house, it is generally a sign of excess humidity and time to get the best dehumidifier you can find. Bathrooms can't air out steam and excess humidity, making them prime areas for mold to grow. It can grow on walls, ceilings, or around toilets and showers. For mold to affect your breathing you don't even have to see it -- it just has to be in your house. Try running the fan in your bathroom after each shower and work on keeping your ventilation system clean.

Small mold patches are a problem because they can quickly spread. They usually appear in clusters of small black spots but can also be gray brown or green in color. Mycotoxins, which come from toxic molds, can actually cause respiratory problems, inflammation, and mental impairment.

2. Musty, mildewy smells

Noticing musty odor in a basement or garage signals that you likely have mold or mildew growing. This could be caused by inadequate tile installations or lack of proper ventilation. Also, sealing issues from poor construction may leave a basement wet in areas with high groundwater seepage. If you smell a musty smell, there's mold present, and that is not healthy. So getting a dehumidifier or the best air purifier for mold may be a benefit in this case because it will help with immediately addressing the excess moisture.

To get rid of a mildew smell, you can clean the area and ventilate it with an open window, or use odor absorbers. Just taking an old empty coffee can and some charcoal will work. Put them in the area where mildew seems to be the strongest. It will also absorb moisture in the air, but a dehumidifier will take out the greatest amount of moisture.

3. Spring water run-off

Do you notice that ground water dampness is affecting your home? If you have seen gray water level marks in the basement, a dehumidifier can help with removing excess moisture. Also check with the construction contractor who built your home to find out why the basement is getting water damage. It could be that the house was built on a low plain, leading to too much moisture. Any time a house is built near water, you'll run the risk of having a humidity problem because that water will end up in your house.

4. Condensation

If you notice that your windows start to bead up with water a lot in the winter, this might mean the room has too much moisture. First try to determine where the excess moisture is coming from. Dehumidifiers can get rid of excess moisture and keep the room at a good humidity level. Oddly enough, the areas where you can see excess humidity in your home are less at risk than other areas -- such as the insulation in your attic. Condensation can melt and break down the plaster just like a roof leak when the weather starts to warm up. Water vapor is the culprit here, and the only way to get rid of it is with a dehumidifier.

5. Water damage

Always make sure when you notice water stains that you investigate. There could be leaking pipes in your home. Or, there could be a ventilation problem. Ask an expert to check out your pipe system and make sure everything is secure.

To repair water damage in the home, you can do two things: fix it yourself or call an expert. If you choose to tackle water damage by repainting or repairing drywall on your own, you'll need a take a trip to your local hardware store. If you paint it on your own, use stain-blocking alkyd primers to seal stains before painting, and first remove peeling and damaged paint before you start the job. Drywall can be tough to repair. First you need to figure out how far back to remove it. Then use a utility knife to mark and cut the wall sheathing. Remove insulation in the wall and dry out the interior, and when it's fully dry, you can patch it. Replace insulation with new material and then tape the seams with drywall tape, making sure to apply thin layers of sand between each one.

6. Rotting wood

If you have seen the wood around your home or even inside it, there may be too much moisture in the area. You can quickly replace affected wood and using a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture is another good idea.

Identify any areas of your home where moisture could start to collect, such as window sills or underneath the sink. These are two areas most susceptible to rotting wood. Grab a screwdriver, flashlight, and binoculars to see those troublesome spots and keep in mind that wood shouldn't be soft when you press it.

7. Excessive allergies

Do you find yourself sneezing and coughing a lot? This could be the result of too much bacteria and mold growing because your home's air is too moist. Try getting a dehumidifier to eliminate toxins in the air -- and keep those pesky mold spores from growing.

The great thing about a dehumidifier is that lower humidity levels make sure that dust mites and mold can't thrive in your home. Having lower levels of humidity is also linked to lower air pollution. In the summer, you'll probably notice your allergies getting better because warm summer air is high in humidity -- but in the winter, the furnace will dry air that's already pretty dry. To strike a balance, get a dehumidifier that tracks current temperature and humidity level, so you can determine the ideal amount of moisture for every room in your home. This will help with keeping the right environment to avoid excess allergens from propagating.