Humidity is the leading cause of mold growth in the basement. Mold and mildew flourish when the relative humidity level is above 80%; therefore, all basements—finished or unfinished—should be kept at or below 50% relative humidity. I have seen where regular vents are installed in the basement to exhaust the moist air with no makeup air. Just sucking the air out of the basement will not maintain the proper humidity levels in the basement. When you pull air out of a basement, it pulls makeup air in either through the exterior or from the upper levels of the house. On a hot and humid day, the air from the house and the outside air will have a high moisture content thus introducing more moisture into the basement through the makeup air.
There are signs that you need a Dehumidifier:
• Window and door condensation.
• Mold spots on ceiling and walls.
• Musty smell of odor
• Recurring spring runoff dampness
However, instead of the cooling action being directed into a closed box, a dehumidifier is designed to blow warm moist room air over these cold coils. The moisture in the room air condenses on the coils to become liquid water. The water then drips into a drip collection pan, or to a drain. The room air, now freed of much of its moisture, returns to the room slightly warmer than it was.
Dehumidifiers are controlled by a device known as a humidistat. This is an adjustable rotary switch which detects moisture in the room’s air. It automatically turns the dehumidifier on or off as it is needed, based on the setting you choose. If you wish, you can set the dehumidifier to the maximum setting for continuous operation.
The condensed drips go into a pan that will need to be dumped when it is full, in the warmer months this can be several times a day depending on the moisture level in the basement. I recommend making your dehumidifier be self-draining. This can be done by installing a hose to it and running to a drain, set the humidity level and you are good.
If you do not have a floor drain there are a couple solutions:
- Installing a condensate pump that will pump the water to sewer system
- Place the unit on a shelf high enough to drain into a sink
- You could also drain it into a 5-gallon bucket, so you don’t have to dump as often
The purpose of this cleaning is two-fold. First, dust and dirt can insulate the coils from the room air, decreasing the efficiency of the dehumidifier. Secondly, this same dirt will get damp and possibly freeze. Freezing is the most damaging thing that can happen to your dehumidifier because it will run continuously but not dehumidify the air.
Remember that every basement in this area needs a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from air, improving the usefulness of basements by controlling the dampness and the potential damage to your home and possessions. So, unless you prefer to use your basement mostly for growing mushrooms and designer mildew, there should be a dehumidifier in your future!