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Basement Dehumidifiers

Basements are often sources of excess humidity. If you use your basement as living space, or if you store anything of value in it, keeping moisture at the proper level is important.

Moisture and Mildew
Because basements are located below ground level, they are in contact with moisture from the earth. Although some homes have adequate vapor and water barriers installed outside their foundations, many older homes are not protected from moisture that can create mildew, causing damage to furniture, carpets, photos, and other valuable possessions. A comfortable moisture level is also conducive to good health. Protection against excess humidity entails the simple installation of a basement dehumidifier.

How do they work?
Dehumidifiers usually use heat pumps (similar to those found in air conditioners) to remove moisture from the air without cooling it. Protection against excess humidity entails the simple installation of a basement dehumidifier.

A heat pump dehumidifier has a fan to draw indoor air over a heat exchange coil at very cold temperatures. The water in the air condenses over the coil and is drained in water form. A second heat exchange coil reheats the air and releases it into the room.

Choosing a home dehumidifier can be a tedious ordeal since there are so many types and sizes available. The type of humidifier you choose will depend on your home’s specific needs. A professional can help determine which dehumidifier best suits your residence.

A large dehumidifier removes moisture faster than a small one, but also consumes more electricity. Moreover, when it starts, it requires more energy than during any other time in its cycle. Consequently, using a large dehumidifier for a shorter period of time will not consume less energy. A small unit is often recommended.

Deciding when to turn on your basement dehumidifier will depend on the local climate. Because dehumidifiers function poorly at lower temperatures, it is not recommended to use them when the temperature is cold. In addition, the risk of freezing the coils increases as the temperature decreases.

During the cold months, when you heat your basement, the warm air and moisture rise to the upper levels of your home, thereby lowering the humidity in the basement. Cold regions require less dehumidifier use than warm ones, where a dehumidifier is often used all year-round.

Proper maintenance is key to the optimum function of your home dehumidifier.

  • Clean the internal filters frequently - as a rule of thumb, every two weeks.
  • Check the coils at least once every season to make sure they are free of dirt and dust.
  • If your unit has a removable front cover with a foam filter inside, clean it regularly as dust and dirt can insulate the coils from the room air, decreasing the efficiency of the dehumidifier.

In addition, dirt in a dehumidifier can dampen and possibly freeze. Freezing creates the most damage because it will force your dehumidifier to run continuously without actually dehumidifying the air (the equivalent of leaving your refrigerator door open all day).

Poorly-maintained basement dehumidifiers have a shorter lifespan and consume unnecessary energy. Furthermore, because condensation emits heat, a dehumidifier acts as a heat source. This process is advantageous in Spring and Fall, when basements tend to be cool. However, in the middle of summer, it will work to your disadvantage. So be sure to choose the dehumidifier best suited for your needs and maintain it properly.


This article was written by Herb Mansfield:
Herb Mansfield is a master plumber in the province of Quebec, Canada. He has over 35 years experience in the plumbing field. He is now lending his expertise to the Sump Pump Info website.


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