Reasons to Have a Dehumidifier in Your Basement in Winter
People in Greater Charlotte, NC often associate the winter months with dry air. This may lead to the mistaken assumption that a home doesn’t need a dehumidifier in the basement during those cooler months. There are several scenarios, though, where a dehumidifier is either outright necessary or at least helpful. We’ll look at what a good humidity level is, then explore some scenarios where your basement might benefit from dehumidifying during the winter.
What Is a Proper Humidity Level?
The relative humidity level in a space needs to be below 60% to prevent mold growth. If the level is above that percentage, then the basement needs to have a dehumidifier running. A level between 30% and 50% is useful if you’re worried about stored items, especially wooden ones. A technician can check the humidity level in your basement to see if it is tolerable.
Mold growth in a basement can cause or contribute to health problems. The mold often gets into the air that flows through the HVAC system through vents in the basement. It then circulates throughout the house. In the best-case scenario, you might notice increased irritation and cold-like symptoms. The worst-case scenario may lead to an overt health condition like asthma. This is especially true in the winter months when you’re not airing the house out as often.
If someone in your household has an existing respiratory health concern, it’s wise to consider basement dehumidification even if nothing seems to be wrong. An abundance of caution can prevent health issues from developing.
Spaces that have heightened humidity levels often experience condensation. This is particularly true during the winter months. When warm air from the basement comes into contact with cold windows, the net effect is that the window acts as a condenser. Water droplets will form on the inside of the window. In very cold weather, the effect might even trigger ice formation.
Condensation is one of the strongest signs that the basement is humid. Worse, the condensation is likely permeating other parts of the house. For example, the humid air may waft into the floors and damage them over time.
People Who Frequently Use the Basement
Some folks rarely use their basements. Others spend a lot of time in these spaces. Many people set up offices, exercise rooms or workshops in their houses’ basements. Human activity in the basement significantly increases the air exchange between that area and the rest of the house. Consequently, the basement is more likely to experience high humidity. Keeping a dehumidifier in the basement is a good precautionary step. Also, it can improve the comfort level of the people who are using the basement.
Lots of people use their homes’ basements as laundry rooms. Even if the laundry system has excellent ventilation, some of the evaporative moisture from each washing and drying cycle is going to get into the basement. Winter can amplify this effect, especially if your basement’s walls are cold. If you keep a washer and/or dryer in the basement, it’s a good idea to set up a dehumidifier.
Visible water leaks can occur in basements. Particularly during storms, the water can permeate through the basement walls and end up producing humidity. Bear in mind that there might not be pools of water. Instead, there may be sections of the wall that just look damper than the rest do.
This can be a sneaky problem if you don’t visit your basement on a regular basis. You might not be present when the basement appears wet. However, you can look for signs of a wet basement. For example, the walls may have stain rings from minerals that were left behind by the water. Also, salt from the water can collect on the walls after the water evaporates.
Even if you have a plan to fix the leaks, the winter months probably aren’t the time to execute it. A technician can install a dehumidifier to buy time until you can tackle the issue.
Notably, these kinds of problems can be tough to remediate in older homes. Many of the best fixes involve sealing the basement off. While a contractor might help you seal the walls from the outside, the underside may be impossible to protect. The best treatment may be to address the symptoms by adding a dehumidifier.
Storing Valuable Items
A basement can be a great place to store valuable belongings that aren’t currently in use. However, using the basement as storage is only feasible if the relative humidity level is low. This is particularly true with items that are made of potentially absorbent materials.
Wooden furniture, for example, is especially notorious for absorbing moist air. If you’re going to keep a wooden table in your basement, it’s a good idea to protect your investment by setting up a dehumidification system. Similar problems may affect leather, electronics and high-quality fabrics. If you don’t want your valuables to end up somewhere between musty and moldy, a dehumidifier will be your best friend.
Dehumidification becomes even more important if you keep food or drink in the basement. Lots of people keep spare freezers in their basements so they can take advantage of bulk buying, for example. You don’t want to keep your purchased food in a moist area.
People often look at the corrosion in a basement and assume it comes from the water lines. If a locale has high chlorination levels, for example, this can cause fittings to corrode. However, people often overlook how moist air can cause corrosion. For example, your water heater’s tank might develop rusty surface spots because of high humidity. Especially if you’ve ruled out other possible problems, it may be time to consider whether a dehumidifier will remedy the issue.
Moist air requires more heat per unit to warm or cool than dry air does. Your basement usually hosts the main air intake for your home’s system. If you’re struggling to improve the efficiency of the HVAC system in your house, you might want to set up a dehumidifier to dry the air. This may make a noticeable difference in your winter heating bills.
Preventing Foundation Damage
Your home’s foundation protects the rest of the structure. Is anything protecting the foundation, though? The biggest threat to most foundations is moisture. If water stays inside the foundation walls, especially during the winter months, it will expand and contract. This is how cracks form in older buildings. A small investment in a dehumidifier can prevent much more expensive problems.
Dehumidifying a basement can prevent thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Fortunately, our team at Integrity Heating & Cooling has the training and resources needed to keep your home’s basement dry and comfortable. We employ certified technicians who also can handle humidification and HVAC projects.
Call our company today, and we’ll help you to identify the right solution for the problem.