Water Leaks and Dehumidifier: How Long Should You Run a Dehumidifier After a Water Leak?

A burst pipe resulting in a water leak and the need for a dehumidifier

Most homeowners fix water leaks and leave things at that. But, did you know that the damage caused by leaks is more than to the pipe, wall, or floor it seeps through? The water promotes fungus, which can be dangerous for you and the home. This is why you need a dehumidifier. But, how long do you run the dehumidifier after a water leak to rid yourself of its dangers?

The period you need to run the dehumidifier after a water leak depends on:

  • The area affected by the leak 
  • Humidity in the air
  • The type of surface comes in contact with the water. 

In smaller rooms, the device can help remove moisture within 3 to 4 hours. It takes longer in bigger rooms. You need to monitor the humidity and check the surface to see if it has dried out, every 2 to 3 hours. 

This article covers the benefits of a dehumidifier after a water leak and the checks you need to perform before turning the device off. So, you know when it has effectively eliminated the dangers of a water leak. 

Why should you use a dehumidifier after a water leak?

Water leaks are dangerous in many ways to your home. The biggest concern is the growth of mold and mildew. Both fungi grow and thrive when water is available, especially when it is stagnant, such as in a bathroom

Mold is damaging to you and your home. It affects your health by releasing pollutants in the air, worsening air quality, and resulting in the following symptoms:

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Eye irritation
  • Headache 
  • Fever

It can trigger severe attacks in individuals with breathing problems, allergies, or asthma. 

When it comes to the home, mold results in structural damage. Once it spreads to the foundation of your home, it weakens it making the home a hazard. 

Water leaks need to be fixed immediately. So, they don’t lead to mold growth. Another way to prevent the chances of mold is by using a dehumidifier in the room with the leak. The device reduces the additional moisture in the air, making it difficult for fungus to grow. It also releases dry air back into the room, which makes the drying process quicker. 

How long should you run the dehumidifier after a water leak?

A dehumidifier running in a room

There are a few factors you should consider when determining how long to run a dehumidifier after a water leak. These are:

  • Affected area: The size of the area affected by the leak should be considered when determining the time to run the dehumidifier. If the area is small, around 10 to 15 square feet (1 to 1.4 meters) you will need to run the device for three to four hours. If bigger, you will need to run the unit for longer. 
  • Humidity level: If the room has high levels of humidity (51% or more) the dehumidifier will take longer to sort out the impact of the water leak due to the presence of additional water vapors in the air. 
  • Damaged surface: Some materials are more water-absorbent than others, for example, wood, carpet, and drywall. If the water is absorbed by such surfaces, you will need to run the dehumidifier for longer to dry them out. 

There is no sure answer to how long you should run the dehumidifier after a water leak. However, we recommend that you check the affected area every two hours to see if it has properly dried out.

The two checks to perform before you turn the dehumidifier off after a water leak

So, you’ve run the dehumidifier for the whole day and are wondering if you can turn it off? Before you do, you should do the following:

  1. Check the humidity of the room: The humidity will tell you the effectiveness of the dehumidifier. The recommended humidity level is between 30 to 50%. A reading higher than that means you leave the device on. 
  2. Check the moisture level on the surface: The surface should be dry, but don’t limit your check to just the outer surface. Look into the cracks in walls and under the carpet to make sure everything is dry before turning the device off. 

Once you’ve concluded these checks, you can turn the dehumidifier off. Let the device cool for about 20 to 30 minutes before turning it on again. 

Here are some questions homeowners commonly ask when using a dehumidifier after a water leak:

How long does it take for fungus to grow after a water leak?

The air contains many pollutants and microorganisms that can become fungus when given a chance. Generally, you can expect mold or mildew to form within 48 hours of a major water leak. 

Is it safe for you to run a dehumidifier all day and night?

Dehumidifiers can run for a long period as long as you take proper care of it. Therefore, empty the tank once full and maintain it regularly. 

How can you tell if the dehumidifier is reducing moisture in the area?

There are two ways you can tell if the dehumidifier reduces moisture levels. The first is by checking the water tank of the device. It should collect water. Next, check the humidity level of the room. It should be lower than when you turned the device on. Give the device at least two hours before you perform the second check. 

Final thoughts

A dehumidifier is a godsend when you want to limit the impact of water leaks. It may not treat the leak but can limit the mold growth and all the health and home hazards that come with it. All you have to determine now is which dehumidifier is best for you!

About the Author Belal

Belal Rizvi enjoys writing about home improvement and do-it-yourself projects. He is an avid learner of the mold removal and dehumidifiers industry and provides insightful information about it to the readers.