In theory, a decent dehumidifier can work hard enough for an average-sized house. But humidity levels can vary from room to room, and basements tend to be the most humid in the home. That’s why a basement dehumidifier is a good investment. In the summer, it keeps humidity levels low in homes with no air conditioning. In the winter, especially in unfinished or poorly insulated basements, it removes the moisture that accumulates as it evaporates into the air. If you dry clothes indoors during the winter, a dehumidifier also takes care of the water that evaporates into the air as your clothes dry.
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The basement is one place in your house that is the most prone to dampness due to a lack of proper ventilation. Damp spaces increase the growth of molds and mildew and can cause serious problems to the structure of the house, not to mention the fact that it can create an unhealthy environment for the residents. This is why a good basement dehumidifier is necessary to control the humidity levels. However, not all dehumidifiers work equally well for this place. Therefore, it is important that you choose your basement dehumidifier carefully.
Why dehumidify your basement?
Basements are partly below ground level, so they tend to be cooler than the rest of the house. Cool air doesn’t hold as much water as warm air, so basements are usually damper than the upper floors. Sometimes groundwater can also enter the basement, especially after heavy snow or rainfall. This is what causes condensation on the windows in colder months, and what sometimes causes unpleasant odors in the basement even when the rest of the house is fine.
Another reason to use a basement dehumidifier is to protect structures in the basement itself. In a damp or wet room, pretty much any material can be damaged by moisture, even steel. Some materials, such as ceramic and fabrics, can be a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and any number of allergens—which can then spread to other rooms as warm air rises from the basement to the upper floors.
Because the condensation process gives off heat, a dehumidifier in the basement can also act as a secondary heat source. This works especially well in spring and fall. High-efficiency models generate less heat for the same amount of work, so opt for them if you want to be able to control temperatures as well.
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What kind of dehumidifier do you need?
If you’re using a whole-house dehumidifier, most experts recommend putting them in the basement. However, since basements tend to be isolated and have higher humidity levels, you may need a dedicated basement dehumidifier. For this purpose, a portable unit is more ideal. Portable dehumidifiers are small, usually knee-high, and have light plastic exteriors. They can be moved from room to room, so you can just pack them up when humidity is down to the recommended 50 or 60 percent.
Some dehumidifiers are designed specifically for basements. The main difference is that they can operate at much lower temperatures (below 65°F), something a less powerful unit cannot do. If you live in a cold area or if your basement is large—or both—this might be a good choice. These units usually come in 50-pint and 70-pint capacities; if you’re not sure, go for the larger model.
Choosing the right basement dehumidifier
Here are a few points that can help you choose the right dehumidifier for your basement.
- Choose a larger dehumidifier. The basement is much wetter than the other rooms of the house. Some experts recommend that you should buy a unit that is capable of covering twice the area of your basement. You will need information about the amount of cubic square feet in your basement. Buying the largest unit possible will ensure that the unit needs less energy to remove the humidity. However, this will depend on the size of your basement. Buying a unit that does not fit the requirements of your basement will only be a waste of your money.
- You can choose between a portable unit and a permanent one. A permanent unit needs to be installed by a contractor whereas a portable one can be just placed in your basement. Portable basement dehumidifiers also are cheaper than the permanent ones and also allow you the option to change one in case you find that it is not big enough for your basement space. However, a portable unit may not be effective if your basement is quite large. So, the choice should depend on the size of your basement.
- Choose a dehumidifier with a drain option. A dehumidifier extracts the moisture from the room to keep it dry and with the drain option the water has a place to get collected. You will, however, need to empty the unit regularly so that the basement dehumidifier does not shut down. This task can be made easy if you have a drain in your basement. All you will need to do is buy a dehumidifier with a hose attachment and the collected water will go down the hose and into the drain.
- Basement dehumidifiers should be installed when the house is built to minimize the chance of mold and mildew gaining a foothold. However, if you already have a house and notice molds growing in secluded areas, you should buy a unit immediately to make sure that the problem does not increase and enter the other rooms of your house.
Keeping your basement free of mold and mildew will prevent that damp, musty smell from penetrating your house – something that can put off potential purchasers in the future.
It is not very difficult to buy a basement dehumidifier. You can easily visit your local store or go online to choose one that is suitable for the size of your basement. If properly maintained, your basement dehumidifier can last for a long time and keep the air in your house free of molds and other contaminants.
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