How Do You Dehumidify A Finished Basement?

A basement can be used as an expansion of your living space. Since it’s located underground, the moisture migrates through the foundation. This may cause structural damage and health problems. As you descend through the stairs, you’ll feel the earthy and chilly sensation. 

Generally, a finished basement should have a relative humidity (RH) of 30-50%. To adjust the levels, you should add a dehumidifier to the house.

This brings us to the question, what are the signs that you need a dehumidifier? If you see mold spores on the walls, you should do something about the humidity level. Water stains on the ceiling is also a good indicator of high humidity. 

So, how do you dehumidify a finished basement? Before you place a dehumidifier in your basement, you should consider how big it is, the capacity of the unit, and the average level of humidity. The best units contain a HEPA filter that can help to absorb the mold spores. But before you power on the appliance, you should measure the relative humidity with a hygrometer.

Next, plug the dehumidifier in a grounded outlet but don’t allow the cord to become pinched. The moist air is sucked through the grille and the electric fan draws the air inward. It then passes through the cold pipes.

Once the air cools, the moisture drips off the pipes into the collecting tray. Now that the air is free from moisture, it passes over the compressor and warms back up. As the collecting tray fills up, the plastic float of the machine rises. 

If you’re using an automatic unit, you can set the amount of humidity you desire. Allow it to run through cycles. Be on the lookout as you may have to empty most of the water in the first few hours. Once the tank is full, an electric switch turns off the fan which shows the machine needs emptying. 

If you have problems draining your unit, use a drain hose. Twine will help secure the hose in the faucet. You may have to monitor the water level in the tank for the next few days or weeks.

But since the basement is not an area that’s always occupied, you should choose a unit with automatic draining. Some models come with a floor drain or sump pump to help you empty the reservoir automatically. The idea is to bring down RH to an appropriate level. Remove the appliance filter once a month to ensure it runs smoothly.

A basement that is 500 square feet requires a unit that can remove 1.5 to 1.7 gallons of water every day. For a 2-liter water tank, you should empty every 5-6 hours. To prevent your unit from icing up, you should move it to a warmer place. 

If you realize the basement is cold but it still develops high humidity, run the heater for a few hours. This will make it easier to control RH. If you notice mold even after taking the above measures, use hydrogen peroxide.

Pay attention to dust as it can stop the unit from functioning properly. Every machine comes with instructions manual, so make sure you check the best practices. 

Where to place the dehumidifier in your finished basement?

If you live in a mild humid condition, you should place the unit in a central location. When there’s too much moisture in the room, your dehumidifier may have to work harder than it should.

To ensure air flows freely, you should close the doors and the windows. Other than that, you should allow 10-12 inches of space around the unit. When identifying where to place your appliance, you must read the product specifications.

For instance, any unit with top-mounted air discharge should be put against the wall. And if you have closets in your basement, you may have to use several units.

Should you run your dehumidifier in the basement during winter?

It will depend on the humidity level. If the relative humidity is above 50%, it may be wise to run the device. However, if the temperatures drop above the ideal level you may want to turn it off.

The basement should stay above 60 degrees F, although some models are designed for 40-50 degree temperatures. Generally, you won’t need a dehumidifier in cold weather. All properties vary in terms of dampness.

Since there’s no guideline on how long you should run your unit, you should measure the RH levels. If your basement is carpeted, you may have serious humidity problems. It’s worth mentioning that a carpet is the perfect breeding ground for mold.

Dust may also settle on the carpet fiber creating an environment for mildew to grow. You may want to consider installing tile or vinyl flooring. 

Tips to get the most out of your basement dehumidifier

Dampness is not only attractive but can also affect the value of your home. A dehumidifier can help to monitor the room’s relative humidity reducing the chance of mold developing.

To start with, you should empty it regularly. This will help the unit work efficiently. Secondly, think about the walls, windows, and furniture. You should place your dehumidifier at the center of the basement to ensure all the moisture is removed from the air.

But before you switch on a dehumidifier, you should vacuum first. This will prevent the appliance from spreading the dust particles. If you have allergies, choose a unit that has a dust filter. 

Another important tip is that you must get the humidity right. Aim for a relative humidity of 30-50%. This will protect valuable items like classic cars, guitars, etc. Finally, make sure the unit you use has frost control.

This will stop the dehumidifier from freezing up in case the basement gets too cold. But the best way to deal with humidity is to find out where the moisture is coming from.

Check whether the foundation of the building is sealed from outside. And if the basement is made of concrete, you should seal the interior. 

Final thoughts

When relative humidity is above 40%, it can cause separated wood floors and cracked ceilings. Unless you seal all the spots, your basement will still have moisture issues.

Before you use a dehumidifier, you should provide good airflow.

Of course, you must place the dehumidifier in a location where it can expel dry air quickly. Because the basement is a lived-in area of your house, you can use part of it for storage.

Make sure you put all the items in biodegradable boxes. And if you have problems using the unit, consult a professional to address your moisture concerns.