Wondering what is the ideal Humidity for your Basement? Looking to keep your basement dry but not sure how to do it and if dehumidifiers are worth it?
In this guide you will learn:
- Ideal basement humidity levels for Finished & Unfinished basements in Summer and Winter,
- Common Causes of Basement Humidity Problems,
- How to Get Rid of humidity in Basement without dehumidifier,
- If Dehumidifiers are even worth it for basements.
How To Tell if Your Basement is Too Humid
One obvious way to tell if your basement is humid is if you notice white or grey water level marks in your basement.
This indicates excess moisture and it needs to be removed immediately.
Walk around your home and see if there is any long-term standing water near the walls. This usually means that water is seeping into the basement causing moisture in there.
Should you smell any stale odors in your basement, this could be a sign that there is too much humidity in the room. The odours tend to stem from built up moisture.
Also, if you notice any rotting wood or peeling paint on the walls could mean it’s too humid.
All of these can happen when humidity becomes a problem in your basement.
Ideal Humidity for a Basement
The ideal basement humidity level should be between 30-50%, but that can differ based on your climate and season.
Basements in Summer
When it comes to summer, the outside air is hotter and more humid. So, when that air makes its way into your basement the humidity can jump up to around 60%.
Given this, you need to adjust the levels in the home back down to a comfort level between 30-50% or you could risk getting mold, mildew and bacteria buildup inside.
Basements in Winter
During this time of year, the cold air from outside can make humidity levels in the basement drop.
When this happens, you will want to keep your home humidity levels around 25-40% when outdoor temps are 20 degrees or below.
Low humidity levels can cause health problems such as nosebleeds, dry skin and make you vulnerable to common winter sicknesses.
In Unfinished basements that lack carpeting, etc., be sure to check and see there are no moisture or water problems on the floor.
For example, if there are card cardboard boxes on the floor and there is water present then the boxes could lead to mold problems.
The Humidity level in Unfinished basements should be 30-50% depending on the season.
Just be cautious with what you keep in an unfinished basement and where you store things so not to cause any unwanted issues.
With a finished basement the same thing applies when it comes to keeping the right humidity regardless of the season.
You want to keep the humidity between 30-50%. Since the basement is finished though you won’t have the same issues like lack of carpeting were it not finished.
You still want to make sure that there are no issues like water spots or distinct odors throughout the room that could lead to bigger problems like mildew or mold.
Different types of basements:
- Cellar – relative humidity (RH) for a cellar around 50-70% is considered adequate for humidity, while 60% is ideal. If you’re storing wine you may want to test the humidity with a humidity gauge to make sure it’s at a good level.
- Daylight – this one is pretty typical to other basements in that you want to keep the humidity around 30-50%. This can very though depending on your climate. Just be sure that you check on it like any other basement when it comes to any signs of water damage or possible moisture build up.
- Walk-Out – this type of basement usually has a door to the outside. They also typically have full size windows that open freely. Given this, you want to make sure that the door and windows are insulated properly to keep any unwanted air entering the basement and humidity is in the same 30-50% range.
- Subbasement – this type of basement is underground without any doors or windows. These types of basements you have to dig deep in the ground to create. Most of the time they are left unfinished. Treat this basement as you would the others by making sure no water or moisture accumulates in the room.
- Crawlspace – In crawlspaces it’s important to keep it around 30-60% with an ideal settling of 55%. Moisture is a huge problem, of course, and crawl space humidity can seriously damage your home structure.
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Common Causes of Basement Humidity Problems
There are numerous problems that can come from humidity building up in a basement.
Most basements do attract moisture, but you have to know how to treat the problem correctly.
If the home sits on a slope to where water can find its way into the basement then that can cause a problem.
Eventually, water will build up around the outside walls of the home and settle around the basement causing humidity problems in your basement.
If you fill the areas where it slopes with more earth then eventually it will level out.
2.Defective/missing gutters and downspouts
If you don’t have gutters/downspouts in good condition then water will pour down around the foundation.
Especially if there is a blockage of some sort then rain water will fill up and make its way to the basement.
A way to fix this problem is to add extensions to discharge water at least 4 feet away from the walls and a place one downspout per every 50 linear feet of roof.
3.Improperly designed well walls
These are like a drain right next to the basement walls. If they are not designed properly then water can flow into the basement.
These window wells should be filled from the footing to the window sill with 3/8 to ¾ inch coarse aggregate.
Also, a supplemental drain extension should extend from the footing to the base of the window well to help keep water out.
4.Ineffective drain tile and sump pit
A lot of houses don’t have a subsurface drainage system. This comes from when basements weren’t used as a habitable space.
Sometimes the system doesn’t work for a variety of reasons like a collapsed pipe, clogging of a pipe or broken connection to the sump.
The sump pit usually has a pump to lift the water to the ground surface outside the wall and it can fail at times. Therefore, if water seeps back into the basement the humidity is bound to rise.
If heating ducts are installed beneath a basement floor slab, the drainage system might be left at an inadequate level and then it would start to get standing water.
This water could eventually lead to mildew and mold contamination within the basement.
Make sure the ducts are insulated and at a proper slope for the drainage to flow.
Concrete and concrete block foundations can form cracks over time.
Places where a wall meets a rigid structure like a fireplace could form cracks.
When this happens, repair is most likely necessary to prevent any water from getting through and further water damage happening.
Is It Possible to Keep a Basement Dry Without a Dehumidifier?
Yes, it’s absolutely possible to keep your basement dry without a dehumidifier.
Some things you can try using are plants, open windows, or fans.
Other possible solutions are using desiccants such as baking soda are charcoal. These items can help absorb moisture in a basement and can use to dry out a basement if needed.
With the exception of using a fan, these are also ways to dehumidify a basement without electricity.
Just be sure to ventilate the room as much as possible, fix leaks and improve airflow and you can do without a dehumidifier.
These are all good alternatives to keep your basement dry without a dehumidifier. Since all basements are underground, they are vulnerable areas in your home.
Even finished basements. Moisture can still find ways to get in so it’s best to have some type of dehumidifier in the basement if possible.
How To Get Rid of Humidity in Basement Without a Dehumidifier
A lot of times using a dehumidifier in your basement to get rid of humidity can be fairly expensive and can run up your electric bill. They can even make a home *too dry*.
So, below are some ways to naturally dehumidify your home while removing dampness and moisture from your basement.
- Absorb moisture – calcium chloride placed in problem areas of your basement can see a quick reduction in humidity levels. This powdered chemical can be purchased in most large hardware stores. It naturally absorbs moisture in the air and is relatively cheap.
- Vent your home – probably the simplest and cheapest way to reduce humidity in your basement significantly. Basically, just open windows and doors as much as possible. Maybe put fans around the house or even in the attic to keep the air circulating.
- Remove indoor plants – plants can put out moisture into the air and make humidity levels rise. Given that you will want to move all potted plants outdoors from your basement and replace them with synthetic alternatives indoors to get rid of humidity in your basement.
- Take short showers – bathrooms tend to give off the most humidity in a home. If you have a bathroom in your basement and you are suspecting it causes humidity problems -Try to leave the fan on when you shower and try to make them as short as possible. It will cut down on the moisture in the home.
- Vent dryers – make sure your dryer in basement is getting as much air as possible. Dryers tend to trap moisture which can build up over time. Try even line drying your clothes to avoid any moisture on your clothing.
- Fix leaks – make sure there are no water spots throughout your home or in basement. If there are then this could mean there is leakage in the home somewhere. You want to fix this as soon as possible to avoid any further damage. Any water coming in through the walls or ceiling need to be take care of immediately
- Install a solar air heater – installing one of these is not cheap at all in your basement, but a very effective way of dealing with humidity in your home. With this method air is sucked in from the outdoors, filtered, and then put out into the home. This is a very good way to clear up the humidity in your home. Just keep the cost in mind.
- Dry heat sources – these refer to a wood-burning stove or a fireplace. This type of heating can help clear up any humidity in your basement. These are also good alternatives to saving on heating costs.
- Air conditioner – you can always keep this running to push out the moisture and get rid of the humidity in your basement. If you can find a temperature that is a good comfort level then you can run the AC consistently which will help with clearing out any humidity in the home.
- Desiccant packs/moisture bags – these little packages are filled silica gel and are actually a form of silicon dioxide which absorbs humidity. Place a few of these around your basement to suck out any humidity from air. They will eliminate excess moisture that cause dampness and musty odors. You can put these in your basement or other rooms in your home since they are fairly small.
There are several methods you can use to reduce humidity without a dehumidifier.
Find which one or maybe more than one will work for you and what works best in your basement.
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How to Keep Your Basement Dry in the Future
One of the main reasons for water getting into the basement and not staying dry is typically rainwater or melted snow that hasn’t been directed away from the home.
These are a few tips to keep your basement dry long term.
1.Keep water away
Water tends to get into the basement by seeping along the foundation.
By keeping water away from around the foundation whether it be by gutters or landscaping around the home, this will help keep water out of the basement
2.Seal interior walls and floors
Use waterproof sealant in your basement on the concrete or masonry. Be sure to pour a thick coat to prevent small water leaks.
This isn’t a solution when your basement already has a leak though. This is should be done before the basement has any leaks.
3.Use a dehumidifier
This is still probably the best way to handle humidity in the basement. Just set the dehumidifier at the proper level, around 30-50 % and it will absorb any humidity and purify the air.
Your basement’s size will dictate the size of the dehumidifier you need.
4.Insulate cold water pipes
By doing this you prevent the pipes from sweating. The sweat will cause condensation and form moisture.
Foam insulation is fairly cheap and easy to install and will protect your pipes from dripping all over your basement
The smallest crack or leak in your basement can bring in water.
Be sure to fix these issues as soon as possible before they escalate into a bigger problem.
You can use waterproofing compound for the cracks, if they’re small enough. If they’re too large then clean them out and patch them first.
How to Dry Large amounts of Moisture from Basement Without a Dehumidifier
There are a few steps you can take to remove large amounts of moisture from your basement if you don’t have a dehumidifier.
This will also work well if perhaps your basement was heavily flooded and you need to remove a lot of water.
- First thing is to turn off the electricity. Make sure everything in the basement is disconnected and use flashlights to navigate.
- Rent a powered water pump if you don’t have one. This will be used to pump out the large amounts of water.
- Check and see where the flooding is coming from. Check to see the sump pump is still working. If it is let it collect the rest of the water.
- Remove any items covered in water whether it be carpeting or personal items. This will help clear out the water faster and so you won’t have anything in the way
- Use a wet-vac to suck up the remaining water. Also use a squeegee if you have one to help push the water out more so the wet –vac can get to it or push it down a drain.
- Once you have a majority of the water cleared out, if not all, turn the electricity back on and put some fans in the basement. This will generate air flow and help dry out the room fast. Let the fans run until the basement is completely dry.
- You can also turn up the heat in the home as the warm air will help prevent moisture
Some of these methods can be used to keep a basement dry even if there aren’t large amounts of moisture.
How Effective Are These Solutions When Compared to Dehumidifier?
Overall, when it comes to drying out a basement, it’s always best to use a dehumidifier if you have one.
It’s the quickest way to prevent moist air from accumulating. You can try the above methods as well. Especially if you don’t have a dehumidifier.
Should you experience flooding in your basement, determine what is the best approach to fixing the situation based on things like how severe the flooding is, the size of the basement and if the basement is empty or not.
Either way, a dehumidifier is your best tool to drying out moisture in a basement fast and effectively.
Are Dehumidifiers Worth it for Basements?
To sum it up, In a damp place such as a basement, a dehumidifier can massively help dry out the air and remove moisture.
They can also prevent mold and mildew from forming as well as keep an ideal humidity level in the room.
So when excess humidity forms in a basement and moisture levels rise, a dehumidifier is your best defense against that.
Also, using a dehumidifier can cut down on energy costs with your air conditioning because you won’t have to turn it on as much.
Overall, a dehumidifier can help with air flow in the whole house as well, not just in the basement.
It will give you better air quality and be very beneficial in fighting against the worst conditions that can happen within a basement.
When To Call a Professional
Should your basement get severely flooded then you will definitely want to call a professional company to handle the removal of the water.
They are bound to bring in industrial size dehumidifiers, if there are large amounts of water, to help remove the water and moisture in the room and bring the indoor humidity back to a comfortable level.
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