As summer heat begins to fade, air conditioners are being turned down and prepped for idle months ahead. But just because the air conditioner loses its appeal during the fall and winter, don’t assume your dehumidifier will follow suit. While the two appliances are closely related, they are different devices serving different needs.

It’s safe to say most people know the main job of an air conditioner: cooling down an area. But fewer people know exactly how an air conditioner works.

Liquid coolant moves across the evaporator, where it is turned to a gas as it absorbs heat from the air. The gas coolant is then compressed and moved to a condenser, which changes it back into a liquid and removes the acquired heat. An expansion device brings the liquid back into the evaporator, where the process begins again.

Whereas an air conditioner removes heat from the air, a dehumidifier removes moisture. However, the dehumidification process begins in a similar way. Dehumidifiers work by using a fan to bring environmental air over the dehumidifier’s cooled coils. Condensation (just like on a cold can of soda on a hot day) then forms on the coils and is directed into the dehumidifier’s reservoir. Remaining air is then warmed and returned to the room.

While humidity is most closely associated with summer heat, it’s important to stay on top of it all year round. Excess moisture can cause structural problems as water can rot wood framing and provide a breeding ground for mold and pests. A dehumidifier will help to remove this moisture and aid in preventing future problems.

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