As a homeowner, you know there are many factors to consider regarding the maintenance of your home, and if your home has a basement, you also know that basements have their own set of problems apart from other areas of the house. Basements are known for holding moisture, resulting in low air quality and other issues such as mold. Whether or not you have noticed these problems, you may be wondering if it’s necessary to use a dehumidifier in your basement. We’ve done all of the research for you. The rest of this article will answer your question and address other factors related to using a basement dehumidifier.
Although every basement may not require a dehumidifier, it is a good idea to use one in your basement. The answer is not one size fits all; however, it is better to take the necessary preventative measures to ensure the health and safety of your home. Tell-tale factors that indicate your basement needs a dehumidifier include:
- Condensation or dampness
- Mold or mildew growth
- A musty basement smell
Now that we have answered your burning question keep reading as we discuss important factors to consider when using a basement dehumidifier and give more in-depth answers about other questions you may have.
Moisture may creep into your basement after leakage from rain, but if a leak is not the case, the culprit of dampness in your basement may be from condensation. Condensation occurs when moisture from the warm air meets the coolness of surfaces in your basement. Over time condensation can damage the foundation and contribute to the growth of mold and mildew. A dehumidifier works by eliminating extra moisture in the air and is an easy fix to unwanted condensation.
Mold and Mildew
As a result of lingering condensation, mold and mildew can grow and severely affect your home's air quality, which can lead to structural damage and cause various health issues. According to the CDC, these health issues can range in severity for each person, depending on their medical history and the symptoms they experience. They recommend using a dehumidifier (especially in months when humidity rises) and keeping humidity levels as low as possible to help avoid mold growth in your home.
The Basement Health Association suggests measuring humidity levels in your basement regularly; a dehumidifier will help maintain the appropriate levels. Keeping the humidity level at no more than 50% relative humidity will prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
With growing mold and mildew, it’s easy for your basement to develop that unpleasant old basement smell. A dehumidifier will keep your air smelling fresh and dry, making your basement a much more livable space to enjoy in your home.
Even if you are not currently experiencing these problems, basements are easily susceptible to these issues. Using a dehumidifier will prevent imposing health hazards and future moisture and mold damage to your home.
Pros and Cons of a Dehumidifier
When making any decision, one must consider the possible advantages and disadvantages. The cons of using a dehumidifier include an increase in electricity usage (meaning higher bills) and a bit of regular maintenance, such as cleaning and emptying the dehumidifier. However, this price and upkeep can be justified when considering the cost of repairs from potential damages caused by excess humidity.
The pros are significant and include eliminating and preventing allergens, mold, and excess moisture, which will help keep your basement clean and free from the damages caused by condensation.
Will a dehumidifier in the basement help the entire house?
It can, depending on if you choose to use a portable dehumidifier or a whole-house dehumidifier. A portable dehumidifier works by removing moisture from one room, and therefore will not help with the humidity in other rooms of the house.
Although considerably more expensive, whole-house dehumidifiers are a more permanent and effective method of regulating the humidity of your entire home. They efficiently work to improve air quality and reduce humidity levels throughout the whole house.
If you are only experiencing humidity issues in your basement, a portable dehumidifier may be a more reasonable option for you. However, if you find yourself needing a dehumidifier in multiple rooms of your home, a whole-house dehumidifier could be worth the investment.
Do I need a dehumidifier in a finished basement?
Yes, even if your basement is finished, it is still susceptible to moisture and mold growth, so it is important to use a dehumidifier to prevent damages and keep your home in beautiful condition. It is especially necessary if you have a carpeted basement, as mold can flourish even easier on surfaces like carpet.
At this point, you may be convinced that a dehumidifier is the right option for your home, but before we wrap things up, let’s address a couple of additional questions you may have before putting it to use.
Where should a dehumidifier be placed in the basement?
If you decide to get a dehumidifier, the next question is where to place it in your basement. To ensure it is doing its job effectively, choosing the right place is essential. It may be more of a concern if your basement is finished, and you can’t just put it anywhere in the space.
It is best to find an open area on the floor without surrounding objects and near a wall outlet (depending on the model, you may be able to attach it to the wall) and away from a place where water or moisture could easily get in. If possible, it is best to be in an enclosed area, so be sure to keep any doors or windows in the space closed.
Should I run my basement dehumidifier during winter?
This greatly depends on the climate you live in. If the humidity remains above 50% in the winter, you should still run your dehumidifier. Be careful, though, because if temperatures drop too low, the coils could freeze. To prevent this from happening and ensure the dehumidifier is fully effective, maintain your basement at or above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If your humidity levels do not exceed 50% in the winter, a dehumidifier may not be necessary until those levels rise again in the warmer months.
Now that you know the benefits of a basement dehumidifier and what conditions to use it under, you can decide what kind is best for your home. Assess your basement and look for signs that point to high humidity levels, and remember, if you see or smell mold or mildew or feel any dampness on the floors or walls of your basement, it’s time to get a dehumidifier. It’s always best to prevent future problems to your home and health, and a dehumidifier will do the job to keep your basement a safer, more enjoyable (and drier) place to be!
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