A healthy and comfortable living environment are primary considerations for many tenants and should be mutual goals for every developer, contractor, and owner. Unfortunately, maintaining comfort while providing healthy ventilation can be a difficult task to juggle. Especially since housing requirements have become more energy efficient, requiring tighter envelopes as well as ventilation that introduces outside air indoors, which allows humid air from outside a direct route indoors (ENERGY STAR® Multifamily New Construction Program).
As energy and ventilation requirements become stricter, reports of mold growth in apartments have increased, leading to property damage, health problems and litigation.
Uncoincidentally, as energy and ventilation requirements become stricter, reports of mold growth in apartments have increased, leading to property damage, health problems and litigation. After extensive research and years of hands-on field experience, Brian Smith, Multi-family Residential General Contractor and Developer, discovered the solution to eliminating mold growth in his own apartments and in the multi-family housing projects he builds. Simply put, he learned the formula:
Elevated Relative Humidity (RH) = MOLD Growth.
“Remove moisture, prevent mold. It isn’t rocket-science. It’s simply taking the time to find the cause of a problem to understand the solution.” explains IDS owner, Brain Smith at a Virginia Conference hosted by the VDHA. “As the General Contractor and Developer of apartment complexes in several southeastern states, I was tired of being pulled into litigation, mold meetings, and people pointing the finger at me. As a builder I knew I built my buildings correctly. As a developer mold remediation and tenant replacement costs were adding up.” The key is finding a SOLUTION…to prevent mold growth before it begins to grow and spread throughout your apartment.
The key is finding a SOLUTION… to prevent mold growth before it begins to grow and spread throughout your apartment.
With the knowledge and understanding of what causes indoor mold growth, he began searching for the best way to remove excess moisture in apartments. At the time he began his research in 2010, the options for dehumidification were limited to portable dehumidifiers or whole house dehumidifiers. Although both options are capable of removing moisture from the air, they were not dependable solutions for apartments or spaces under 1,500 sq. ft.
At their core dehumidifiers are designed to pull in and cool down air, to condense and collect the moisture. As simple as it may sound, controlling humidity in multifamily housing has been a daunting task. Tenants find a long list of things to complain about using portable dehumidifiers including their noise levels, cost to run, nuisance of having to empty reservoir tank, they take up valuable floor space, as well as the extra heat they add to a room. The most important factor to consider is tenant behavior; tenants can’t be relied upon to properly maintain a portable dehumidifier, typically they are unaware of their benefits and only think of them as an inconvenience that will raise their utility bill.
7 Reasons Portable Dehumidifiers Do Not Work for Apartments
- TENANT DEPENDANT – tenant oversees operation of unit
- LOUD – make loud and disruptive noise
- COST – too expensive to run
- RESERVOIR – tank must be manually emptied
- EYE SOAR – takes up floor space creating a tripping hazard
- HOT AIR – releases hot air back in the apartment
- OVERSIZED – pulls more than needed from a space; higher energy consumption
Limitations of Plastic Portable Dehumidifiers
Portable dehumidifiers are intended for use in smaller spaces where direct drainage isn’t an option, such as a bedroom or closet and are too small in both size and capacity to dehumidify more than a single room. These stand-alone dehumidifiers typically include a bucket to collect the condensed moisture and are designed to be moved from room to room depending on where high humidity is a problem. Generally, portable units are made of plastic and overtime the heavy internal components (compressor, fan motor) can break free from the housing. Due to the inexpensive cost of these standalone units, replacement parts are often not available, also keep in mind that the plastic casing is not meant to be disassembled for repairs.
Capacity at Saturation
Most portable dehumidifiers advertise their moisture removal capacity at extreme saturation conditions 90% Relative Humidity (RH) and 90°F, which is highly unlikely for a typical home. The standard for testing the effectiveness of a dehumidifier is at average conditions, 60% RH and 80°F, the standard by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM)1. This means portable dehumidifiers offer much less moisture removal than stated in typical conditions. “As a rule of thumb, a dehumidifier can extract about half as much moisture a day in AHAM conditions as it can in saturation conditions”. 1
Portable dehumidifiers are designed to pull moisture from the air that condenses over coils and collects in an internal reservoir bucket. There are some standalone dehumidifiers that offer a continuous drain option. These units pull moisture and pump out the condensate through a drain hole which is typically connected to a hose. Although this sounds like an appealing feature, these pumps do not initiate until the reservoir bucket is full and shuts off while tank is still at 50% capacity, leaving standing water in the bucket. The most important thing to understand about mold is that it needs moisture to survive, the standing water left behind by the pump is the perfect breeding ground for mold spores to thrive. Keep in mind, unless a portable dehumidifier is emptied multiple times a day, they are counter-productive to mold prevention. A tankless dehumidification system, such as the IW25-4, includes a drain hose to automatically remove collected condensation, there is no need to empty and clean reservoir tank.
Unless a portable dehumidifier is emptied multiple times a day, they are counter-productive to mold prevention.
Dependable Moisture Control
Understanding the limitations of dehumidifiers available, Brian Smith, designed and manufactured a dehumidification system for the multi-family industry. Through his research he discovered that indoor humidity is affected by residents daily habits and lifestyles. Some tenants are reluctant to run ac, while others prefer to hang dry clothing, even cooking all contribute to the amount of moisture in the air. It was imperative for the design to be tamper-proof in order to release responsibility from residents. This way property owners, and tenants can rest assured knowing the dehumidifier is automatically pulling excess moisture to keep relative humidity below 60%. The nuisances associated with portable dehumidifiers were revised to accommodate tenants preferences and the innovative IW25 became a reality. The IW25 dehumidification system can easily install directly in or on wall, runs quietly in the background, and continuously drains without having to empty a reservoir tank.
“I’m most thankful for the little machine that is helping us breathe better.”
Eliminating excess moisture from the air will improve the indoor air quality, and comfort for residents. “My dehumidifier was installed Feb 3. Today is Feb. 14 and I feel so much better and I cough far less than I once was. Prior to installing the dehumidifier I was coughing constantly. I can tell there has been a huge improvement. I smile every time I hear the machine come on (it isn’t loud at all). While the counter tops, and appliances look nice, I’m most thankful for the little machine that is helping us breathe better.” -satisfied tenant residing in the Southeast.
Tamper-Proof and Tankless Dehumidification
The sleek IW25-4 is a tankless dehumidification system designed specifically for apartments up 1,500 square feet, pulling up to 29 pints of moisture from even the dampest and darkest corners. The tankless system can be setup to drain automatically into a hub drain or the optional internal condensate pump (integrates directly into the IW25-4). The IW25-4 dehumidification system consistently eliminates excess moisture without tenant participation, protecting your property and reputation.
The versatile IW25-4 IN Wall or ON Wall dehumidifier puts control back in your hands keeping RH below 60%. Confidently maintain indoor moisture levels, improve comfort, and protect the longevity of your property with the upgraded IW25-4, which includes an extended 5-year warranty on parts and labor.
Learn why mold is a growing problem in apartments.