Are dehumidifiers dangerous?
Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
The long cold months in the UK encourage the British to block up air bricks and gaps under doors to stop drafts in the house. However, this strategy also traps moisture, leading to excessive condensation on the windows. Condensation leads to mould and rotting wood, all of which are health hazards.
Dehumidifiers reduce this risk by removing moisture from the air in the house. It would be tragic if the introduction of dehumidifiers created more danger than the risks they were intended to eliminate, but don’t worry. There is nothing intrinsically dangerous about dehumidifiers.
Your house contains many potentially dangerous appliances. Anything that operates with flames or electricity can potentially kill you. According to research by the Home Channel News and the London Fire Brigade, your tumble dryer, lawnmower, microwave, fridge and freezer are the most dangerous appliances in your home. Accidents with cookers and any gas appliances are also frequent. The UK’s Health and Safety Executive has issued warnings about mobile gas-powered heaters and carbon monoxide from gas-fired boilers and central heating systems can also kill. The dehumidifier is the least of your worries.
Like any electrical appliance, a dehumidifier can become dangerous is the wiring becomes frayed. Exposed wires can cause a spark that may start a fire in your home. This is the same danger presented by any electric appliance like your TV or DVD player. If an accident causes the power lead of your dehumidifier to become damaged, get an electrician to replace it. In 2009 LG had to recall all its Goldstar and Comfort-aire dehumidifiers because some of their wiring shorted and caused fires.
One danger encompassed by dehumidifiers lies in its close relationship to fridges and freezers. Older dehumidifiers use Freon gas running through pipes to attract the water in the air through a process of condensation. This gas can be dangerous if released from the dehumidifier’s sealed pipe system. A hard knock might crack the pipes and release the Freon. However, manufacturers realize that the Freon should not be allowed to escape and make a though job of encasing the pipes to make sure they can take a lot of damage before they break.
The UK government banned the use of Freon in all new appliances in the UK in 2001 and 2004 (depending on the size of the appliance). If your dehumidifier was made after that, you will not have any danger from Freon gases. As long as you keep your new dehumidifier well maintained, it will not cause you harm.
- About Dehumidifiers: Health benefits
- BBC News: Safety experts call for new guidelines on appliances
- Carbon Monoxide Kills: Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Consumer Product Safety Commission: Home Fires Prompt Dehumidifier Recall Reannouncement from LG Electronics
- Sylvane: Air Conditioners, Dehumidifiers, and R-410A Refrigerant
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images