Basement floors are built over soil, with 100% Relative Humidity (RH) and varying temperatures throughout the year. If the finishing of the basement isn’t planned and built correctly, in a short period of time the basement can not only feel cold, but it can become damp and smell musty.
For health reasons and for the safety of your belongings and your home, it’s important to continually measure RH levels in the basement. This is best achieved by using a Hygrometer – an inexpensive and portable device that measures atmospheric humidity and temperature in the room (available at stores for about $20).
Should your Hygrometer indicate an RH reading higher than 50%, a dehumidifier is recommended. “A car may come with dozens of warning and safety issues but a basement does not, and these safety issues are often overlooked until water damage occurs”.
When home owners convert their unfinished basement into a functional area of their home, they concentrate on the fancy finishes and not too much on prevention and monitoring.
This is why I’ve formulated some smart basement recommendations, which include having a means of measuring RH, and controlling it. Having a dehumidifier is a must. Here are some signs you may have moisture issues in the basement and need a dehumidifier:
Condensation on windows
Mold spots or mildew on ceiling or corners of walls
Water stain marks
Moisture bugs, such as Silverfish, Centipedes, Earwigs, Clothes Moths and Sow Bugs (which may be a normal occurance in basements but tend to increase in atmospheres with higher humidity levels)
RH readings higher than 50%
Because energy standards have improved and new technologies developed, most newer dehumidifier makes test between 55 to 67 decibels – that’s between the sound of traffic passing by and loud conversation.
In terms of energy consumption, most models test very good for energy efficiency, so try to invest in a newer model rather than buying a used one online.
Dehumidifier capacity depends upon the size of basement, dampness level, amount of contents stored, and amount of dividing walls.
Typically a 50 pint dehumidifier (up to 1800 sq. ft. capacity) can work quite well in a 1,000 sq. ft. basement, as it will dry the space quicker without so much cycling and energy expended.
Look for dehumidifiers with a portable design, washable filter, and auto shut-off features (for when the bucket is full).
If budget permits, select a dehumidifier to which you can attach a hose which can be directed toward a basement drain.
New models usually appear in the market in late spring or early summer, although you will probably find better in-store sales and promotions in the fall or early winter.
Even the best dehumidifier may not completely remove the moisture in your basement. Begin by checking that gutters aren’t clogged and downspouts are directing rainwater at least 3 feet away from your home, and grade property away from your foundation.
Inside the home, be sure to run exhaust fans or open a window after every shower, and always turn kitchen fans on when cooking.