If placed correctly, a basement dehumidifier can benefit not only the basement but also the rest of your house. But it’s important to place it correctly for maximum benefits, as we’ll discuss below.
Reduced dampness lowers the risk of mold and mildew growth in your space. This protects your furniture and house structure from damage. Dehumidifiers can also eliminate unpleasant odors and improve the air quality in a basement with a musty smell. In addition, a less humid environment in the home helps dry clothes faster, preserve stored food, protect electronic equipment, and save important documents.
It’s important to note that dehumidifiers come in different sizes and with different features you may need. Choosing the best dehumidifier for your basement and choosing the perfect dehumidifier placement depend on multiple factors. We discuss each of them below to help you maximize its performance.
Do you need a basement dehumidifier?
Being located mostly underground, basements tend to be cold, damp, and dark. (Note: don’t mix up a basement and crawl space. We’ll get into the difference between the two shortly.)
When moist air from the upper level comes into contact with the cold basement walls and floors, condensation occurs. Basement dampness can also be traced to hidden plumbing leaks or a defective drainage system.
A dehumidifier reduces dampness in the basement and helps maintain a comfortable humidity level throughout the entire home. Some common signs of excess moisture and humidity in the basement are the following:
- water stains on ceilings and walls
- peeling or flaking of paint or wallpaper
- condensation on windows or metallic surfaces in the room
- damp and humid air
- a musty or moldy odor
- mold or mildew growth in furnitures or wall corners
- rot and decay of wood
If you notice any of these symptoms, it may be a good idea to place a dehumidifier in your basement.
Best dehumidifier placement in the basement
Before deciding where to place a dehumidifier in basement applications, make sure to think through the following factors:
To find the best place to put a dehumidifier, it’s important to know exactly what is/are the main source of excess moisture and high humidity in your basement. A dehumidifier won’t be enough to solve the problem if, for example, you have an interior water leak or cracks in your foundation.
Rain or groundwater that seeps into the soil can also flow to the basement due to poor grading. Without properly functioning gutters and downspouts, rainwater will be directed towards your foundation instead of away. If you have any of these problems, consult an expert so you can plan the best course of action.
If you wash and dry your laundry in the basement without proper ventilation, this can also raise the humidity. Cooking and taking a shower as well as the exterior humid air during summer months can be a cause of high humidity. In any case, you must track down the main source before you operate a dehumidifier in your basement. This way you can be sure you’re looking for the right solution.
You need to know the measurements of your basement to ensure that your dehumidifier has adequate capacity to effectively dehumidify the whole area. One ideal placement would be in the center for maximum coverage. Although, if you use the basement as a living space, having a big and loud appliance in the midst of your living space can be a hassle, so most people find it more convenient to place the dehumidifier in one corner or side of the area. Because warm moist air tends to rise in relation to other air, placing the dehumidifier at a higher elevation in your basement space is ideal if possible.
No matter where you place the dehumidifier, it’s important to maintain airflow so the unit can function properly. Make sure that the air isn’t blocked from the intake and exhaust grilles. Clear the area from any obstacle and avoid the corners as much as possible. It is recommended to keep the unit at least 6-8 inches away from walls or furniture to allow for breathing room. If possible, install a fan to help circulate air.
Electricity and Drainage
Whichever type of dehumidifier you use, it will result in condensate stored in an internal reservoir or drained through a hose or motor pump. Remember that a dehumidifier is an electrical appliance and water around electricity can be dangerous. To be safe, place the unit as far away as you can from electrical outlets or cords. Note that you have to plug the dehumidifier directly into a wall socket.
If you’re using the tank to collect water, you may need to empty it frequently. You want the unit in a place you can easily access with the least risk for spilling. If you’re using a drain hose, place the dehumidifier as close to the drain as possible in case of a leak. For a pump that is draining water into the basement window or sink, always take note of the height limit in which you can position the hose. You may also want to keep your dehumidifier easily accessible for regular cleaning and maintenance.
Basement vs Crawl Space
A basement is simply a part of the house that’s at least 8 feet below ground level. Depending on whether it’s finished or unfinished, a basement can serve as a storage area, laundry room, or an extension of your living space. Basements also provide protection against dangerous weather conditions.
A crawl space, on the other hand, is a hollow area 1 foot to 3 feet under the first level of the house. It can be used as storage or for easy access to electric and HVAC ductwork. Crawl spaces are often open, but they can be sealed and insulated to maintain indoor humidity and air quality.
Factors to consider when choosing a crawl space/basement dehumidifier
This is the amount of moisture that your dehumidifier can remove from the air in 24 hours. You need to consider the size of the room and the amount of moisture in order to find the right capacity. If your basement is extremely damp, even though small in size, you want a powerful dehumidifier.
The area of your basement plays a huge role in how efficient your dehumidifier will be. Standard 30- to 50-pint units have coverage areas between 1,000 to 3,000 square feet in size. Portable models can cover anywhere from 150 to 500 square feet. Commercial grade dehumidifiers can go up to 8,000 square feet. Depending on the area, height, and orientation of your basement, there is a dehumidifier that’s just right for you.
Low temperature setting
Most modern dehumidifiers have the auto defrost function to prevent frost build-up inside the machine when the temperature reaches near freezing point. The unit defrosts automatically to melt the ice, and starts back up again. If your basement gets particularly cold, look for a dehumidifier specially designed for this purpose.
A built-in humidistat makes it extra convenient to keep track of the relative humidity in your basement. The dehumidifier will stop automatically when the target humidity is reached, thus reducing your energy consumption.
To minimize the costs, you may want a compact dehumidifier that you can use in different parts of your house. Most modern dehumidifiers are built with wheels and a handle for easy movement. If your basement moisture issue isn’t that severe, a mini model may be enough.
Other Useful Features
Features like auto shutoff and auto restart are added for your convenience. If you’re using the internal tank, the dehumidifier will turn off automatically once the tank is full. You can also find indicators for when the tank is full or when you need to wash the filter. Most top-rated dehumidifiers have these features and more.
Investing in a good dehumidifier for the basement ultimately helps you save money by minimizing house maintenance repairs and reducing possible health hazards caused by a damp environment.
A dehumidifier in the basement is also great for minimal noise output. For optimum performance, research the best basement dehumidifier based on your specific needs, and pay attention to choosing the most ideal location based on the factors above. If put in the wrong place, a dehumidifier can become an electrical hazard or not work as effectively as it would if placed correctly.