How you install your dehumidifier will affect how efficient it actually is. Location, drainage and proper maintenance are all factors to consider when setting up your new machine. Adjusted correctly, your dehumidifier will remove moisture from the air and prevent costly repairs.

Whether you already own a dehumidifier that doesn’t seem to be working, or you want to cover this installation process, this guide is for you.

1. Choose the right type and location

The most common type of dehumidifiers are the portable types, which are affordable and compact. The advantage of a portable dehumidifier is that it can be easily moved, a great benefit for large homes or temporary dehumidification needs. The downside? They have a limited operating range and can usually only handle a medium-sized room (approximately 250 square feet).

If you have purchased a portable dehumidifier, make sure the room it is in is no larger than what the machine can support. Then place it in the room that needs it the most. Basements are often prone to moisture; other problem areas include sweaty bathrooms and poorly ventilated kitchens.

Consider how noisy your dryer can be, too. Since dehumidifiers use fans to circulate air, think twice before placing one in an area where noise may be uncomfortable. Living rooms, hallways and bedrooms are usually left without a dehumidifier.

If you have damp conditions throughout your house, a portable unit probably won’t be enough. This is especially true if you rely on a central air conditioning (HVAC) system to manage your home climate. A better solution in this scenario is to purchase a whole-home dehumidifier. These units integrate directly into your existing HVAC systems and are powerful enough to handle homes measuring thousands of square feet. However, they require professional installation and are expensive ($1,000 or more).

Connect a drain pipe so that the moisture trap can pump out the water it collects.

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2. Choose your drainage method

Dehumidifiers work by condensing moisture from humid air. They then collect this water in an internal drain pan or reservoir. Some models also have a motorized pump to automatically drain water from the tank. This is a convenient feature and is better than manually emptying the drip tray. However, the big disadvantage is that the moisture trap must be placed near a sink or drain.

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Have your moisture trap either drain into a pipe or directly into a sink.

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If you do choose a model with a motorized pump, connect a water hose to the drain pump opening on the dehumidifier. Then place the other end of the provided drain hose into a sink, drain or drain pipe. Always use the water hose or pipe supplied with your appliance as its length will correspond to the rated pumping distance of your machine.

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Select your target ambient relative humidity. Between 35 and 50 percent is the ideal range.

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3. Set your preferred ambient humidity level

Then it’s time to turn on the dehumidifier. When choosing your desired humidity level, aim for a number between 35 and 50 percent (relative humidity), which is optimal indoor humidity range. Your machine will now work to maintain moisture levels close to this value.

Regular cleaning is key to dehumidifiers performing at their best.

Chris Monroe/CNET

4. Regular maintenance

After installation, be sure to perform regular maintenance on your dehumidifier. Frequent cleaning of the unit will help it function properly. It will also prevent the growth of germs and mold. For a closer look at how to keep your dehumidifier clean, watch this video:

These steps provide general guidelines for installing a portable dehumidifier in your home. Check your model’s owner’s manual if you have specific questions. And if you’re still trying to decide which portable dehumidifier is right for you, get started with our shopping guide.

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