Do I Need a Humidifier or Dehumidifier in Basement?

A humidifier and a dehumidifier are two common appliances used by many people worldwide for two separate reasons. A humidifier adds moisture to dry air, while a dehumidifier strips moisture from a dump air. So, do you need a humidifier or a dehumidifier in your basement?

With most basements suffering from dampness, it means you need a dehumidifier to help control the moisture level and balance the relative humidity. However, if you live in the basement (rare cases) and the air feels dry, you will need a humidifier. So, if you want to reduce dampness, get a dehumidifier – if you want to make dry air moister, use a humidifier.

As you can tell, this topic requires a deeper discussion. Thankfully, that’s what I have prepared. This post explains the differences between a humidifier and a dehumidifier, their best applications, and recommends the best for the basement. So, be sure to read it to the end.

Humidifier or Dehumidifier; Which One Should You Use In A Basement?

It’s not once or twice I have seen people get confused when choosing between these two devices. The fact is, the two appliances have opposite functionalities. One adds moisture to the air to make it humid, while the other removes moisture to make it less humid. So, I get why it is easy to get confused.

I don’t want to make the discussion around the topic lengthy, so I will try to explain it quickly in this post. So let’s look at how these devices work and what their function is in our lives. What are they used for?

What is a humidifier, and when do you need to use it?

A humidifier is an electronic device that, using a fan, puts moisture into the air. This is used during winter because of dryness; it helps avoid skin crack and increases sleep quality.

Humidifiers are also good for people with colds, sinus problems, or sore throat; they help you breathe easier. Also, if your baby is having respiratory problems, the humidifier will most likely help them too.

Another great use for this appliance would be in your office. If you work in offices where there is low humidity, then this product will help. Humidifiers generally come with settings that allow users to control how much moisture they want in the air. Plenty of models can do more than one thing, like warm up the air and humidify it simultaneously.

Although humidifiers are pretty efficient in making the air moister, leaving for too long will cause higher humidity levels. When you do not use your humidifier, make sure to turn it off. It is recommended to clean out your humidifier every week.

This product eliminates static electricity, helps keep wooden furniture from drying out, and prevents cracking, so it keeps rooms dust-free. These units are also very quiet when they run. This means that the noise won’t disrupt sleep or work activities. They can be put in any house room, but living rooms would probably be ideal because more furniture than bedrooms could get damaged by moisture buildup.

What is a dehumidifier, and when do you need to use it?

A dehumidifier is an electrical appliance used to reduce the humidity of the air surrounding it. Using dehumidifiers can improve many environmental conditions like cigar storage, wine storage, safe gun storage, basement storage, and even bedroom closets. Dehumidifiers reduce the moisture in the air and prevent things from rusting.

If you’re looking to protect your valuables from mold and moisture, then you should use a dehumidifier. You can place it in your closets or even the basement if there are any signs of humidity within the house. Dehumidifiers also help protect antiques, wood furniture, and musical instruments like guitars commonly affected by humidity.

Dehumidifiers typically remove between 20% and 50 % of the moisture present in a given space over a while, depending on:

  • The total amount of water vapor present (which depends on the temperature, the air velocity, and the humidity level);
  • The relative humidity of the air in which it is operating; and,
  • Its capacity per day.

It usually takes between 5 to 24 hours for a dehumidifier to bring down the moisture in a room. Since most modern dehumidifiers have digital controls, they can be set up to run automatically when necessary and also shut down automatically when they reach their preset limits.

Dehumidifiers should not be left unattended all night as this might lower your home’s temperature by more than 3°C. This should only be done if you use an auto function that switches the unit off when moisture is reduced to a specific level.

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Humidifier or Dehumidifier for Your Basement

From the descriptions above, a humidifier is a humidity-increasing device mainly used in bedrooms and living areas to prevent problems like cold, sinus problems, sore throat, and other respiratory issues caused by dry air.

And since the main problem that raises the question of whether you need a humidifier or a dehumidifier in your basement is mostly moisture, a humidifier is not the appliance you need.

Basements are usually wet and are mostly the source of high humidity in any home with a basement. If the moisture level is left uncontrolled, it can lead to mold and mildew growth.

So, in that regard, what you need is a dehumidifier to remove the moisture and not a humidifier that will worsen the condition.

Dehumidifiers help control dampness in the basement by removing large amounts of water vapor in a short time. If you want to avoid having your possessions exposed to dampness, then you should use an automatic dehumidifier for your basement.

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Why Are Basements Always Damp

Basements are often damp, musty spaces that can be uncomfortable to live in. However, many people don’t realize the cause of their basement’s moisture problems and how they can prevent them from ruining their home or affecting their health. If you’re concerned about your own basement’s humidity levels, read on to learn more about the causes of excessive moisture in basements and what you can do to deal with it.

1) Water Penetration through Walls and Floors

One of the most common causes of excessive moisture in a basement is water penetration through walls and floors. This often occurs when rainwater seeps through cracks in the foundation walls, windowsills, drain openings, or doorways.

In some cases, problems with roof drainage can also result in major issues if it leads to standing water on your basement floor.

As you might have guessed, this water then has no choice but to soak into whatever type of flooring material you have down there. Often, a combination of factors intensifies the problem until you have a serious humidity issue in your house.

Some basements that have concrete slabs may be below grade level while still being subject to outdoor elements. The concrete then acts as a sponge, absorbing water whenever it rains and making the basement spaces feel damp at all times of the year.

2) Installing Humidity Control Systems

Humidifiers are often used in basements for aesthetic reasons because some people don’t like dry environments, while others prefer lower humidity levels than those found outdoors during winter.

However, if you have excessive moisture issues in your basement, installing a dehumidification system is typically necessary so that your home’s air isn’t constantly humid.

As an added benefit, these systems also help control dust mites and mold, which can cause serious health problems when present in large quantities.

3) Problems with Grout or Sealant

Moisture can easily travel through grout and sealant joints in your basement walls and floor. If you notice the dampness on the other side of a wall, try applying a waterproofing product to these areas first before taking any further steps.

Ensure the unoccupied sections of your basement are always kept dry since humidity tends to travel along pipes and electrical wires.

Also, keep moisture out with vapor barriers that prevent rainwater from seeping into basements or crawlspaces.

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What You Can Do To Deal with Basement Dampness

Humidity won’t solve itself; it’s up to you to deal with excess moisture properly if you want your house to be healthy and free of mold and mildew.

The best way to do this is by taking preventative measures like installing dehumidification systems and humidity control systems. Still, you should also repair leaky windows and doors as soon as possible.

Remember that concrete floors can’t be painted, so if you have a basement with an unfinished flooring material, sealing it before the moisture has time to soak in is the best way to prevent problems from developing over time.

What are the signs you need a dehumidifier in your basement?

If you do not dehumidify your basement, you may experience damp floors and walls (which can lead to mold), rusting on metal appliances (refrigerators, furnaces) that are left in moist conditions for too long. Here are six signs you need to dehumidify your basement:

  • There are damp spots or water stains on the basement floor.
  • Musty smell coming from the basement.
  • Mold is growing on your basement walls (and maybe even inside your basement).
  • Condensation forms on windows or walls, which indicates that your window seals aren’t working properly
  • Your furnace or electric appliances rust easily.
  • There are problems with rot or mold on lumber stored in your basement.

Pro tip: To prevent your basement from becoming damp and moldy, you need to check them for humidity at least twice a month. If your basement is below ground level or has less than four inches of gravel surrounding it, you’ll definitely want a dehumidifier in this area.

Related Questions

If I have a dehumidifier, where should I put it in the basement?

Answer: If the area in your basement is less than 400 square feet, you can put it in the middle. If your basement is larger than 400 square feet, you should divide it into areas that are approximately 200 square feet and place the dehumidifier in the center of each area.

How often should you run the dehumidifier in the basement?

During the early spring, summer, and fall months, it is recommended that your dehumidifier runs for 24 hours a day. However, when the temperature drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit outside (and stays that way for three consecutive days), you’ll want to turn off the dehumidifier. This is because if the temperature outside is below 55 degrees, the air in your basement won’t be able to cool off enough, and the dehumidifier will use up more electricity than it needs.

About the author

Sharif Hasan

I am Sharif a data-driven marketer by profession and run The Spruce Air. I am very interested in keeping good-quality air inside of my home. Besides, I love to share my air-related knowledge through my website.

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