Will a Dehumidifier in the Basement Help the Upstairs?

Dehumidifier in the Basement

Dehumidifiers are excellent at ensuring our homes stay free of mold and preventing water damage. The most common place most use these units is the basement since it’s mostly the source of the excess humidity. And on that note, will a dehumidifier in the basement help the upstairs?

Yes, but it will highly depend on the type, size, and placement of your dehumidifier. Typically, a portable dehumidifier is designed to help the room it’s placed in. But with the right size and proper placement, it can help more than one room. However, you need a whole-house dehumidifier for better dehumidification of your basement and upstairs.

When can a portable dehumidifier in the basement help the upstairs? What makes a whole-house dehumidifier superior in such cases? I will address these and much more in this post. So, be sure to read it to the end.

How to use a portable dehumidifier to dehumidify the basement and upstairs at the same time?

With portable dehumidifiers designed to work in small spaces, it’s difficult for a dehumidifier in the basement to help upstairs. However, you could still make some improvements if the humidity levels are not alarming.

What’s more, if the source of high humidity levels upstairs is the basement, then the dehumidifier in the basement can help with upstairs. How? The unit will control the humidity from the source meaning no moisture will go upstairs.

However, it might not be able to help with the moisture that might have found its way upstairs. That’s where the size of the dehumidifier you’re using comes in.

What size and type of dehumidifier should I use?

To humidify the basement and upstairs at the same time, you need a big capacity unit. You can’t use a small portable dehumidifier for such tasks since it doesn’t have enough capacity or power to handle both areas. In fact, even if you’re using a 20 pint or 30-pint unit but installed downstairs, it will still work best at that place only.

That’s why I recommend going with a whole-house dehumidifier instead. These units offer a good balance between space coverage and capacity, not to mention they are also efficient.

Yes, but only if it’s connected directly to the source. Meaning placing a 20-pint unit under an air conditioner can lead to some positive changes. It also works fine for mildew growth prevention on furniture and walls. But for heavy dehumidification, like in your basement and upstairs, you need more capacity.

So, let’s say you have 30 pints of moisture produced daily; you’ll need at least 50 pints of removal capacity to keep both areas dry. Or maybe 100 pints if there is more moisture created (sauna belt, laundry room). And based on these amounts, you can work with a whole-house dehumidifier or several portable ones using the auxiliary hose that connects them.

Suppose you want to humidify not only the basement but also the kitchen and living room. I recommend getting two portable units OR one whole-house unit with 60/80 pints capacity, respectively.

But remember, the kitchen and living rooms aren’t basements, so they shouldn’t be humidified. They should be around 60% relative humidity level only.

How does dehumidifier placement improve the chances?

And what if I already have a portable dehumidifier, and maybe you do have one, but either it’s too small, can it still help in controlling humidity levels in both places?

Dehumidifiers rely on air circulation as they pull air inside them to dehumidify. When you place your unit in the basement, it will keep circulating the air inside the room until the ideal moisture level is achieved.

So, if you want to dry the basement and upstairs, you can find a spot that will serve the two areas by relying highly on how the air circulation moves between them. Placing the dehumidifier near or on the stairs can ensure it pulls the air from both areas and strips the excess moisture before releasing it out.

That way, you can dehumidify the basement and also help upstairs with a single portable dehumidifier.

What about the Dehumidifier type? Whole-House or Portable Dehumidifiers

Dehumidifiers are designed mainly to dehumidify the room they are placed in. But it also means that if you place your portable dehumidifier in the basement but not on any other floor, it can’t help much with the humidity of other floors. You need to bring it upstairs or use a whole-house unit for better results.

As I have already mentioned, you need a whole-house dehumidifier if you want to get rid of excess humidity on more than one floor of your home. Portable units are ideal only when there is a limited access point to said area, e.g., attic or crawlspace, and you don’t want to install a permanent dehumidifier there.

Let me take you through these two dehumidifier types, look at how they work, and recommend the best that can help the basement and upstairs.

Whole House Dehumidifier

A whole-house dehumidifier is a type that you install out of sight, preferably in the crawl space or in the basement.

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How do they work?

Whole-house dehumidifiers are usually used in large rooms or even an entire basement of a home. They require installation on either water source (plumbing) on the power source (electrical).

A drain is attached to it to remove moisture from the air and release it outside through the condensation process. One advantage that makes whole house units superior to other units is that they come with humidistat that allows users to set the desired humidity level inside their home.

When the level hits this setting, the unit stops running and ceases to release moisture from air until the humidity reaches desired value again. This function supports people who do not want to over-dry their homes, preventing air from becoming too dry.

How big is a Whole House Dehumidifier?

The size of whole house dehumidifiers can vary depending on manufacturer and model, but most have a wide range that falls under medium-large categories.

If you’re looking for a suitable size smaller than what is usually available at your disposal, then you might want to look into portable units.

After all, these are merely bigger versions of portables, so they share many similarities with them and come with extra space and power.

Portable Dehumidifiers

As the name suggests, a portable dehumidifier is a mobile, easily movable type that you can move from room to room depending on your preferences and needs.

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How do they work?

As the name suggests, portable dehumidifiers are small units that can be moved from one place to another, just like regular everyday goods we use in our homes (washing machines, refrigerators).

Portable dehumidifiers don’t require installation because it could be too risky and complicated to install such a device on your own. Most of them operate on electricity through an electrical cord or even batteries for those who want to take their devices with them wherever they go.

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Of course, this means you won’t have to worry about the potential damage caused by water damage and musty smell since there is no need for a drain system this time around. This makes portable units popular among people who live in smaller homes, flats, or even with people planning to move often in the future.

It’s worth noting that most portable dehumidifiers come with a humidistat similar to whole house units, but manufacturers tend not to label it as a needed feature on their products.

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What about the size of the Portable Dehumidifier?

Size-wise is where portables suffer in comparison with whole-house units. For one, they’re usually only suitable for small rooms, mostly under 1500 square feet in size; when you get bigger than this, things can get pretty weird and complicated.

These devices are heavy and heavier when fully loaded. What’s more, they have wires hanging out from them makes moving them around more difficult all around. However, depending on the manufacturer’s model, sizes can vary, but most are designed for medium-sized rooms.

Whole House or Portable: Which one is the best for the basement?

Many people choose to use whole-house units for basements because of how bigger these devices are. They can handle bigger rooms easily and provide more power for sucking up water from the air effectively.

In the case of portable units, they don’t have enough power needed to get rid of water from a room bigger than 150 square feet in size, so this is where whole house units come into play.

It’s safe to say that owning a portable dehumidifier will not help you much if you’re looking to remove humidity from a basement since their max capacity for removing moisture from your home is around 150 cubic feet.

This means that if you want something smaller, then the best option would be to buy a whole-house dehumidifier since these are typically designed for bigger rooms and basements sized around 600 cubic feet.

However, suppose you want to control the humidity from the basement up the stairs. In that case, you will need a more powerful portable dehumidifier capable of covering the basement and the one floor above. Remember that you have to find a spot between the basement and upstairs to allow proper airflow down the basement.

And since this might prove to become an expensive move, I would recommend getting a whole-house dehumidifier. It’s more than capable of controlling the humidity levels in the basement and upstairs with ease. The initial cost might be high considering the unit itself is expensive and require professional installation, but it can be a lifesaver in the long run.

Related Questions:

Question: Do dehumidifiers work in the winter?

Answer: Yes, dehumidifiers work year-round. However, they may not be as beneficial in the fall and winter because of how cold it gets outside (and inside). When temperatures start dropping below 60 degrees Fahrenheit your home will usually become more humid than usual, meaning dehumidifiers won’t work as efficiently. So if you want to use one over the winter, you should check with the manufacturer first to see if there is some antifreeze to prevent freezing and damage your unit’s motor and other parts.

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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