Keeping your basement free of moisture can be one of the most challenging tasks for any homeowner. There are several factors that can affect the relative humidity of your basement, including but not limited to climate, construction, geographical location, and what appliances you keep down there. Ask any homeowner which room is bringing the value of their home down, and they’ll likely say the basement.
Thankfully, reducing the amount of moisture in your basement can be an easy fix. Depending on the source of moisture creeping into your underground room, here are eight ways you can dehumidify your basement.
1. Get a dehumidifier
- 1. Get a dehumidifier
- 2. Use desiccant containers/packets to absorb moisture
- 3. Use a concrete sealant
- 4. Improve air flow in your basement
- 5. Keep your washing machine, dryer, and laundry out of the basement
- 6. Evaporate moisture
- 7. Check for and cover any air leaks
- 8. Redirect downspouts away from your basement
- Final Remarks
Like your home needs a humidifier during cold, dry months, your basement would benefit from a dehumidifier when spring and summer come along.
Dehumidifiers work by suctioning in warm, water-logged air, passing it along the exterior of a cool rod which then drips water droplets into a waiting basin or through an exit hose. Many dehumidifier models can condense dozens many gallons of water on a daily basis, effectively keeping moisture from latching onto your basement walls and floors and encouraging mold growth.
2. Use desiccant containers/packets to absorb moisture
Desiccant packets are those things you get when you purchase new shoes and new electronics. These packets – the ones with the DO NOT EAT warning written all over them – absorb moisture from its surroundings, prevent moisture damage and mold growth.
Desiccant packets are inexpensive, extremely portable, and won’t freeze during the winter. However, they require constant replacing and aren’t extremely efficient at absorbing moisture in large rooms. If you want to go the desiccant route, be sure to get larger packets and/or multiple packets for bigger rooms.
3. Use a concrete sealant
High relative humidity levels in the basement aren’t just caused by airborne water particles. Moisture can seep through concrete walls and floors. The older your concrete, the higher the likelihood that water will poke its way through cracks and crevices in your concrete. If left untreated, mold growth can grow at a rapid pace, and it’ll be even harder to remove since a lot of it is growing under or within your concrete floors and walls.
To prevent moisture from passing through concrete, use a concrete sealant. There are even paint-and-sealant combos of practically any color to match with the color scheme you have going on in your basement. Some sealants are for floors or walls exclusively, while others can be used on any concrete surface. Read the label and instructions carefully before applying the sealant.
4. Improve air flow in your basement
If the air in your basement is constantly in motion, airborne water particles have a lower risk of gathering and increasing in size. The most basic way of improving air circulation is by checking your vents to see whether they’re working at an optimal level.
Another cost-effective way of improving air flow is by running a fan in your basement for hours on end. There are even window fans that get placed in an open window and move air from your basement to the outdoors. If you get a window fan, ensure that you’re placing it in the right direction – air should blow toward the outside, not in – otherwise you’ll end up introducing more moisture to your basement.
5. Keep your washing machine, dryer, and laundry out of the basement
This really is a no-brainer. One of the most effective ways to introduce more moisture to an already humid room is by bringing in wet clothes or appliances that use copious amounts of water. Dryers are especially bad since they produce water vapor which is harder to remove without the right tools.
If possible, take your washing machine and dryer to another place in your home that’s more accessible by fresh air and ventilation. Hang your clothes outdoors to dry when the sun is shining. These small steps can help you reduce the amount of moisture buildup in your basement dramatically.
6. Evaporate moisture
This is probably the simplest way of reducing the relative humidity in your basement, but it is potentially the most dangerous. Drying your basement involves using a space heater to increase the temperature of your room. The point of using a space heater is to add more heat to the room, bringing water vapor to its boiling point, turning it from airborne water to wisps of vapor. Space heaters can cause your basement to become unbearable to stay in, but if left unattended, a fallen space heater can spark a fire that engulfs your home in flames.
Another alternative is by using a wood stove in your basement. This means bringing dry logs to your basement and setting it on fire. You need to exercise extreme caution when opting to use a wood stove since the slightest ember can spark a house fire. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
7. Check for and cover any air leaks
The most accessible point in your home for air to seep in is the meeting point between your home’s foundation and its flooring. Any unseen leaks in along this meeting point will let water seep in through your basement, and it becomes especially bad after a bad rainstorm. Air leaks can also be found along windows, and other access points to the outside directly from your basement.
The easiest solution to prevent water from entering through these air leaks is by using a silicone sealant or weather stripping. However, this prevents future water from coming in, not dealing with existing moisture patches in your basement so you’ll still need to dehumidify the room afterward properly.
8. Redirect downspouts away from your basement
We’ve already established that water can enter your basement via cracks and leaks. Another thing to pay attention to is the direction in which your downspouts get rid of rainwater. The downspouts should always be pointed away from any part of your home and ideally toward a sidewalk drainage system.
If you find that your gutters are directing all rainwater toward your basement, make a point to yell at your contractor about what a poor job he or she did before redirecting your gutters and downspouts.
Depending on just how bad the relative humidity is in your basement, you may need to apply more than one of these solutions. It’s important to understand the state of your basement and whether it requires a light repair job or a total makeover. Remember that reducing the humidity in your basement and keeping it that way can actually increase the value of your home. Not to mention it’s a lot easier to clean and maintain when your basement isn’t blasting you in the face with hot, humid air.