We all know the function of a dehumidifier; it removes excess moisture out of the air. I understand quite well why people relate this function to wood drying. But can you use a dehumidifier to dry out wood?
Yes. In fact, a wood kiln applies the concept of a dehumidifier to dry lumber; it employs a controlled dehumidification process. It has a fan(s) that circulates and directs the airflow inside the room while a dehumidifier strips out the moisture. That means you can use a dehumidifier to dry out wood but, you have to set it upright for it to work.
As you can tell, there is a lot involved when you decide to use a dehumidifier to dry out the wood. In this post, I will take you through things to consider when drying out wood using a dehumidifier, help you build a DIY wood kiln, and shed some light on how long you should wait for the wood to dry. So, let’s jump right in!
How Does Dehumidifier Help Dry Out Wood
A dehumidifier ensures you live comfortably in your home and also keeps the air humidity checked. This helps prevent allergies, asthma, mold, and mildew growth by talking away excess moisture, the main ingredient. You can apply the same principle in drying out the wood. But to understand how this will work, it’d be best to know how a dehumidifier works.
How Does a Dehumidifier work
A dehumidifier is an electric device designed to strip excess humidity from the air and condense it into the water before draining it away into a bucket or out through a drain.
The machine comes with a fan that it uses to pull in the air inside the case. Inside the case are two evaporator coils hidden inside a series of aluminum fins. Inside the evaporator coils is a refrigerant that is circulated through the copper coils by a compressor.
The mechanics of the dehumidifier allows the first evaporator coil to get super cold (freezing point). When the fan pulls air through it, moisture is condensed to water that drains down the fins to a drain pan.
The fan then pulls the dry air through the second coil, where it’s reheated to room temperature. The process is repeated until the ideal humidity is achieved. The unit will continue to run until it gets the humidity level to the set range in the thermostat.
How Does a Dehumidifier Kiln Work
A dehumidifier kiln is like a cage where you store your wood and leave them to quick-dry with controlled dehumidification.
It’s crucial that you kiln dry wet wood before using it in your home to remove moisture to ensure the wood doesn’t shrink and create gaps or create other problems.
A dehumidifier kiln is similar to your home when you’re using a dehumidifier, only that you’re not drying wood but air.
Inside a kiln, the wood is sticker stacked to allow dry air to pass through each wood on both sides. The creation of moisture imbalance in the atmosphere provides excellent conditions for the moisture in the wood to escape to try and fill the space.
Normally, the wood is placed so that a fan forces dried air through to the wood and passes through the spaces left after stacking before the dehumidifier takes in the wet air and dries it. The process is repeated until the ideal wood moisture is achieved, usually 10%.
So, How Do You Use Your Dehumidifier to Dry Out Wood?
You will need to build yourself a DIY dehumidifier kiln when you can control the dehumidification, airflow, and temperature.
What do you need?
- You need a spacious insulated room to handle the amount and size of wood you want to dry. The insulation makes sure heat isn’t lost to the outside, and the air circulation works properly. You can even build a small cage or enclosure using plywood and insulate it to create a DIY wood kiln.
- You also need some stickers or spacers (of equal heights) that you’ll use to stack the lumber for drying. It helps level the wood while also exposing both sides for easy drying.
- You also need a dehumidifier ideal for the room size. You want to make sure it’s powerful enough to dry air inside the room and also be capable of removing moisture out of the wood. So, you’re free to oversize it.
- The next thing you need is a fan to help circulate the air through the lumber to dry it. With the wood sticker stacked, the air has to be distributed to make sure it touches both sides of the wood. That way, the air will strip out the moisture before the dehumidifier condenses it.
- There is one last thing you will need, a moisture meter. This will tell you when the wood is dry, around 6-19% depending on where it’s to be used.
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With everything ready, it’s time to set up your new dehumidifier kiln. Where do you start?
- Place two or three wood skids of the same height at the center of the room, leaving equal open spaces on both ends.
- Place the first row of the wood lumber on top.
- With the first row set, place the wood sticker or spaces evenly distributed with a gap of 24-inches apart.
- Place the second row of the lumber and place another row of two or three skids. It’s not a must you use the skids; you can continue with the stickers.
- Repeat this until all your wood is sticker stacked.
- Place the dehumidifier on one end of the room and the fan on the opposite side of the room in such a way that the fan will blow air through the stacked wood onto the dehumidifier for drying.
- Find a way for both appliances to get an uninterrupted power supply.
How Long Does a Dehumidifier Take to Dry Wood?
Since a dehumidifier isn’t designed to dry wood but room air, it might take longer than a normal wool kiln would take. Usually, how long the wood take in a dehumidifier wood kiln will depend with;
1. Type of wood you’re drying
The type of wood, its species, and the density of your wood will determine how long it takes to dry. For example, cedar will dry in half the time of pine. The type of wood you’re drying can affect how long it takes to dry. For instance, cedar dries out twice as fast as the pine does.
2. Size of the lumber
The larger the lumber, the longer it takes to dry them out. Larger pieces of wood can retain more moisture and need a higher dehumidifying power if you’re trying to dry them in a shorter period. You might want to consider building two separate drying chambers instead of one big area for bigger pieces of wood.
3. The power of your dehumidifier
How powerful your dehumidifier is also determined by how long it would take. Some units that produce lower humidity levels won’t remove as much water from the air as those at high outputs, creating warping problems.
Also, when drying wood in a dehumidifier, you should set the dehumidifier at its lowest temperature to avoid drying the wood too fast, leading to cracking and warping on your lumber.
Can I use a heater inside my DIY wood kiln?
You can but only during the cold months. The heater can supplement the lost heat, but you want to set it at the lowest setting. If you leave it at high settings for an extended period, the wood can dry too fast and start cracking.