Solving High Humidity With A Basement Or Crawl Space Dehumidifier

Heat and humidity created by a relaxing shower is a comfortable experience.  But, if all the rooms in your home were as hot and humid, you might then describe those spaces as muggy or stuffy! Excess moisture in living spaces is downright uncomfortable. Yet, there are a large number of homeowners that experience this every day.

If any of this sounds familiar, ask yourself:

  • Does your home have a finished or unfinished basement?  Both are susceptible to the problems that moisture intrusion can cause.
  • Does your home have an encapsulated crawl space foundation done by a professional? Sealed and exposed crawl space foundations can suffer from moisture intrusion, despite appearance.

Learn more about the type of foundation your home has and why.

When combined with the proper waterproofing systems, a professionally installed dehumidification system can prevent a variety of problems caused by excess moisture in the air. You CAN achieve cleaner, drier air throughout your home!  This article will answer and address the following:

What is a Basement? What is a Crawl Space?

Basements and crawl spaces are at risk of very similar problems when it comes to moisture. Although both are different.

Types-of-Basement-Crawl-Space

Crawl Space

The foundation of a crawl space tends to be a few feet off the ground. The construction is less expensive than that of a basement and is like a slab foundation. Whereas, it uses a poured footing and concrete blocks to create the foundation that will support the walls of the structure.

Vulnerabilities to Moisture

A large drawback to the crawlspace foundation is that it is very prone to moisture if you do not get it closed off effectively. Even with the use of plastic sheeting on the ground, it is still possible for mold and moisture to build.

Basements

In a nutshell, a basement is an empty space under your home that is 8 feet deep (or more) that has a concrete slab at the bottom. Older basement walls used to be built with cement blocks, resulting in structural failures and leaks as they got older.

Modern basements have poured concrete walls to help ease the impact of the common problems related to structural integrity and moisture saturation.

Vulnerabilities to Moisture

Be sure to get your basement hooked up with a sump pump to prevent it from flooding. Battery backups, generators, and water-flow backups are highly recommended to prevent flooding.

The best-case scenario for basement drainage is to provide a natural path for the water to follow, which can be done with either an interior or exterior waterproofing system.

SCHEDULE AN EVALUATION

Our team of professionals will perform a free evaluation on your basement or crawl space and discuss which waterproofing solutions will be the best fit for your family to improve your quality of life and wellbeing of your home.

Signs of High Humidity

 

Chances are, you are reading this today because you have a hunch there is too much humidity in your basement or crawl space. If you haven’t yet found enough evidence to know for sure, take a look at the list below of the top signs of high humidity found in your home.

The Walls

Mold and Mildew Growth on Basement

If you find mold and mildew growth on your walls that returns after being cleaned, this could mean there is excess moisture in the air of your home.

Your walls may feel moist to the touch, and the paint might be cracking or peeling up. Some areas of paint on the walls may even begin to bubble up, filling with water.

The Windows

Mold can grow on your windows and won’t retreat after being cleaned if there is still excess moisture to feed on. Check your windows for frequent condensation or water accumulating in small puddles on your window sills.

Musty Odors & Unpleasant Smells

 
White-Mold-and-Mildew-Dry-Rot-Floor

A musty smell that might remind you of a stale cloth is another known sign of high humidity levels in your home. The high humidity will increase the strength of musty odors from the most regular of sources.

Musty smells in your basement or crawl space is also an indicator of mold or mildew growth, as well as the possible presence of wood rot!

Wood Rot

 

There are several different ways that rot can present as it eats away at your home’s structure. It is very important to know what to look for when working towards implementing a solution. One of the primary ways to identify wood rot is to look at the color of the rot itself. 

For example, wood infected with white rot will cause the wood to appear whiter in color compared to uninfected wood in your basement or crawl space. The same will go for brown rot and other types of rot that can create a black, grey, or even blue hue on the wood’s surface.

Aside from a difference in the color of the wood, a change in its shape is also a good indicator that wood rot is taking its toll. This can be seen in the wood structure of a basement or crawl space when the wood looks soft or profusely cracked. This is otherwise known as soft rot.  

Any sign of rot is a sign of excess humidity levels inside the environment of basements and crawl spaces.

Allergy Like Symptoms

If you are experiencing consistent allergy or cold-like symptoms, it could be from dust mites that thrive on high humidity.

Dust mites can cause aggravating symptoms for people that have asthma. This includes difficulty breathing, tightness of the chest, wheezing during exhaling, and more frequent or stronger bouts of coughing.

The American Lung Association promotes maintaining a humidity level of below 50% to prevent dust mites from growing in your home.

How To Be Sure Humidity is the Cause?

You might be experiencing some of the less obvious signs of high humidity. For example, a buildup of frost or ice on some surfaces in their basements and crawl spaces.  Also, a “damp” feeling in the air and in their clothes as they move around their home.

The most accurate way to check the level of humidity in your home is to measure with a hygrometer! They are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased at your local hardware store for around $10. You will want to see a reading of around 50% to 60% humidity measured from the air.

If levels are greater than 60%, you can know for sure that the humidity has reached excessive amounts.

 

Don’t Overlook The Signs of High Humidity

Don’t overlook the signs of excess moisture.  It is crucial to consider what these indicators could be telling you about. Excess moisture damage to exposed structures will only increase in severity over time.

The presence of white rot on floor joists in your crawl space may appear to be a slight discoloration of the wood. Unfortunately, a chemical reaction may be taking place in the wood, and white rot may be setting in.

The same is true for cracks in basement foundation walls.   This is because a compromise in the wall will grow with time, leading to larger cracks. In some cases, even collapsing the wall!

Some of these signs of excess humidity might seem unnoticeable during drier seasons (ie, winter). They could then become more pronounced or even very obvious during bouts of stormy, wet weather.

Checking problem areas monthly will help you get a feel for what is normal. You will also develop a better sense of what might be linked to a more serious problem. These areas are best addressed sooner than later.

 

What Is Causing the High Humidity in My Home?

High humidity in your basement or crawl space can increase the humidity levels of your entire home.

Due to certain processes like the Stack Effect, the air from your basement or encapsulated crawl space cycles up through your home and escapes from the attic. This means that high amounts of moisture in the air below your home, as well as any mold or mildew, will continuously be brought upward. Your living areas will become filled with this air and any contaminants that exist in it.

Listed below are some of the major reasons basements and crawl spaces can accumulate enough moisture to cause high humidity indoors. Let’s take a look:

Moisture Intrusion From The Ground

Standing-Water-Crawl-Space-High-Humidity

A word of caution for homeowners with crawl spaces that have not been encapsulated or properly maintained: the bare earthen ground contributes to problematic moisture.

When left exposed, moisture from the ground will freely evaporate into your crawl space environment.

This is also possible when a poor quality plastic sheeting is being used on the ground. It takes a thick, high-quality vapor barrier material to seal out moisture. Otherwise, the moisture will permeate the plastic and enter the crawl space.

Crawl Space Vents

For homeowners with vented crawl spaces: the communication between the outside air and crawl space interior alone is enough to create high humidity problems. Once designed to allow for free airflow, crawl space vents kept temperatures down in warmer weather before the normalization of air conditioning units in the early 1950s.

Advances in technology and a major shift in how we regulate our homes have long since changed this process. Sealing off these vents can provide the benefits of a more dry and stable crawl space environment.

Outside Elements

Your crawl space may fill up with water in areas that are particularly prone to lots of heavy rain and frequent flooding. Once this water has accumulated, it can remain there as several inches of standing water underneath your home.

Cracks in the foundation walls can increase the amount of standing water, allowing water to seep in. This usually occurs after enough pressure has built up from the saturated surrounding earth. A host of both interior and exterior drainage options are available for diverting heavy amounts of water in the saturated soil away from the foundation of your home.

Appliances and Plumbing

Other sources that can contribute to moisture intrusion in your basement or crawl space could include appliances and plumbing.

A broken plumbing pipe running across the ceiling can leak grey water onto the ground indefinitely if gone unnoticed. Condensation on these pipes or any appliances in your crawl space, such as HVAC equipment, can further contribute to moisture accumulation.

Additionally, poorly placed downspouts can expel water right next to your foundation. These downspouts are placed about 10 feet away from the home and can pour excessive amounts of water directly onto your foundation walls. This will continue to increase the amount of hydrostatic pressure as the moisture builds up.

Don't Drown, Get That Humidity Down!

Have you ever felt like you’ve had to put a little extra effort into walking through the environment of your home, almost as if “wading” through a heavy amount of moisture in the air?

Relaxing around the house can be made much less relaxing when your clothes feel like they are sticking to your skin. It is difficult still when you are experiencing some of the other discomforts that high humidity levels can cause. Besides discomfort, a damp climate in your home can prove to have negative effects on the health of those living inside, as well as of the house itself!

We will walk you through some of them below:

  • Mold and Mildew Growth

High humidity is synonymous with mold and mildew growth. It requires moisture as part of a collection of variables that allow it to grow and spread. An outbreak of mold can mean it is detrimental that your home’s humidity levels get reduced as soon as possible. If left unchecked, it will only continue to grow. The possibility of the destruction to the structures of your home will vary depending on the type of mold growth and what it is feeding on.

Your foundation’s integrity is not the only thing at risk, seeing that our bodies do not do well with sharing an environment with mold. Some molds are toxic and produce substances that can harm us. For example, “Stachybotrys chartarum” naturally creates a toxin called mycotoxin. It is typically known as the black mold you may see in the bottom corner of your basement walls.

With prolonged exposure to toxins thriving in high humidity climates, your respiratory system and other parts of your body can be negatively affected. A variety of health issues can form in a person being continuously exposed to toxic mold and mildew. Using an air purifier or air conditioner to help filter out mold from being breathed in is not enough. One must simply get the humidity levels lowered sufficiently to inhibit mold and mildew growth.

Listed below are some of the symptoms you and your family might experience if you have been affected by mold poisoning*:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble thinking clearly/foggy-headedness
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Compromised immune system
  • Cough ranging from slight to asthmatic

* NAoS: Indoor Mold, Building Dampness Linked to Respiratory Problems and Require Better Prevention…

  • Dust Mite Infestation

Maybe your household isn’t worrying about a barrage of mold and mildew growth, but is instead dealing with an infestation of dust mites. According to the American Lung Association, about 80% of home environments in the United States are being infiltrated by dust mites. 

Breathing in dust mites can create the same unpleasant experience as many other allergens. Dust mite allergy symptoms can range from a more mild and irritating experience to severe difficulties of important functions. These include frequent sneezing, itchy or weeping eyes, a runny nose, blocked sinuses, bouts of coughing, and other respiratory discomforts.

  • Standing Water

Vented, unencapsulated crawl spaces can harbor great amounts of moisture. This moisture accumulates both from the outside air and when groundwater is wicked up from under the surface of the dirt, which can be from as deep as 1,000 feet! 

  • Wood Rot

Previously in this article, we explained how to spot wood rot growing on the structures of your home. The damaging effects of wood rot can prove dangerous if given a lot of time to continue eating away at the wood, especially if it affects your home’s foundation. Believe it or not, wooden structures can become up to 75% weaker with as little as a 1% loss of wood density!

Dry rot, a common type of rot caused by humidity-loving fungi, can cause floor joists to become so brittle they crumble at the touch. Don’t let the appearance of extremely dry wood fool you as to how much moisture is in the air. 

In addition, the metal fittings and other components used to build wooden structures can rust if enough moisture is present in the air. This will cause an even more significant decrease in structural strength.

  • Hydrostatic Pressure

Previously, we touched on how important it is to properly seal the area that your dehumidifier is going to be working in so it can effectively do its job. 

It is necessary to keep all windows, doors, and vents closed, as well as sealing off any other large openings to the outside climate. That being said, one might think that their basement being finished would provide much-needed protection from outside moisture. This is not true, despite how comfortable and dry their basement living space might appear from the inside. 

This is because a force called hydrostatic pressure is present when a significant amount of water collects around your home. 

The deeper your home’s foundation is built, the greater the hydrostatic pressure can become. This pressure can grow stronger as water accumulates in the soil surrounding your home. It presses on the foundation walls and can dramatically compromise their integrity over time, eventually causing breakage and even complete collapse! 

Once the walls have reached the point of breakage, significant amounts of water can begin to enter the basement. Behind those beautifully painted panels of drywall could lie a very active infiltration of moisture.

  • Damage to Belongings

Not only does high humidity cause discomfort, it can also damage your belongings. Sensitive items like antiques or electronics are especially prone to moisture damage and should be protected until the highly humid conditions can be resolved. 

Other items like clothes, books, and long-term storage foods, can be ruined by absorbing excess moisture. Replacing valuable items that have been affected while being stored away can be very costly or nearly impossible to replace.

  • Devaluing Your Home and Property

Another significant effect excess indoor moisture can have on your home is that it can lower the value of your property. A property that naturally accumulates moisture from the perimeter, will always cause moisture issues for the home.

Unless the problem is fixed with options like grading the land or installing the appropriate waterproofing systems, the house will only continue to degrade over time, both inside and out. 

Making an investment in these services upfront can prove well worth the cost in the future. It can help you avoid having to pay for expensive moisture-related repairs or replacements while getting everything ready for the market. This will also show that your home has retained a large part of its structural integrity over the years. You just might thank yourself for having made it easier to sell your home!

How Much Humidity is Just Right?

An ideal humidity level to achieve in your home is around 30% to 50%, but no higher than 60%. As you may have learned earlier in this article, humidity levels higher than that will open the door for growing mold, dust mites, and a host of other problems. In as little as 2 days of humidity above 60%, mold and mildew will start to grow!

Your dehumidifier is able to tell you how much moisture is in the air by using a device called a humidistat, which measures moisture a lot like how a thermostat measures temperature. 

Unless the underlying problem that is causing the moisture intrusion is resolved, any efforts you make to dehumidify your basement or crawl space will be greatly undermined. 

Think of the process like using a mop to soak up water off of the ground- except the water is continuously running from a faucet. The mop will be able to absorb some of the water, even if it is wrung out and set back down, but it will not be able to get up all of the water until the faucet is turned off. 

 

If you have already chosen the waterproofing method that is right for your family and had it professionally installed, then you’re well on your way to achieving a comfortably dry indoor climate.

Whether the problem is corrected from inside or outside the house, the dehumidifier will be able to perform like it should when it does not have to combat a consistent replenishing of moisture. 

Does my Basement or Crawl Space Need a Dehumidifier?

So, you have come this far in learning about the effects of high humidity and why you should work to keep it down (as well as how!).

No one wants to continue experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of feeling like they live in a fishbowl.

If that is the case, we hope this information has been providing you with some clear and inspiring motivation for solving the problem, but wait! Before you go off and schedule a dehumidification installation, it is important to have a good understanding of whether your basement or crawl space is ready for this solution.

Allow us to explain: A basement or crawl space dehumidifier unit works to control the environment it is put to work in. This means that it was made to do the specific job of making a humid environment more arid and clear. This can be next to impossible in certain conditions where simply too much moisture is present and constantly replenishing.

Some basements or crawl spaces that feel more manageable might still have humidity levels that both exceed what is healthy for your home. A condition like this will significantly tax the efforts of your dehumidifier.

A dehumidification system will not work effectively unless it is installed in a properly sealed environment. Single-room dehumidifiers are typically placed in a room where the doors and windows are shut, since letting moisture-laden air into the room will immediately create a conflict for your unit’s performance.

According to AdvancedEnergy.org,

“…The dehumidifier alone might not be enough to reduce RH (Relative Humidity) levels below mold-forming thresholds. The impact of dehumidification relies on many factors such as dehumidifier size and removal capacity, crawl space size, and air leakage to the outside to control the balance of water vapor entering and leaving the crawl space.”

Here are some questions to ask yourself about whether you need a dehumidifier in your basement or crawl space:

Do I have Standing Water?

Do you remember our explanation about large puddles of standing water from the list of many common causes of high humidity that were listed earlier in this article?

If so, and you know they are present in your basement or crawl space, you will want to have this problem solved before implementing a dehumidifier. Without this step, nearly all you and your machine’s efforts will be diffused.

 

Standing water in a crawl space can be resolved with a professional encapsulation installation. Simply, the earth floor of the crawl space is covered with a thick, high-quality plastic vapor barrier sheeting. This seals out the excess moisture that would otherwise evaporate into the space and collect into puddles of standing water.

Is My Basement Finished?

Perhaps your basement or crawl space has already been modified in some way or even entirely finished. These rooms are no less important to consider when preparing them for a dehumidification system. This is because, although the type of unit might prove to be the best pick for underneath your home, there may very well be some aesthetic or practical variables to consider before installation.

Let’s say your basement has been turned into a comfortable living space with carpeted flooring. You may not find it desirable to have a dehumidification unit (complete with ductwork) placed in the middle of the room. Some design adjustments can help solve this problem, while some rooms might need a little remodeling.

What Am I Storing?

As with many things in life, you might want to be prepared for any special circumstances. Say you have decided to buy a large stockpile of long term storage foods and keep them in your encapsulated crawl space. The humidity level might maintain a range of comfort.  Yet, you will want to have the assurance that it is also maintaining the food’s shelf life.

Many homeowners store large amounts of cloth, paper, and other materials that are vulnerable to moisture in their basements whether they are finished or not. A dehumidification system can help protect the storage from becoming compromised by moisture.

Are Dehumidification Systems Loud?

Naturally, the larger the dehumidifier is, the louder the humming noise will be. Deciding to place your dehumidifier in the basement or crawl space instead of your home’s main floor can make this part of the buying journey much simpler. Your family can get the benefits of cleaner, drier air while the noise of the unit is kept out and away from the living spaces of your home.

This of course applies best to unfinished basements or crawl spaces, since a finished basement might already be in use as another living space. For spaces that are being lived in, you will want to consider the unit’s placement and what kind of construction options you have available. When done right, it might be possible to hide the unit or dampen its sound.

One way you can be sure your dehumidifier doesn’t make more noise than it was designed to is to place it on a stable and secure foundation that is completely level during installation. This is actually a very important step- not just for noise, but for preserving the lifetime of the unit.

Which dehumidifier is right for me?

Let’s first take a quick look at how a dehumidifier does its job. The main goal of a dehumidifier is to remove a certain amount of humidity from a given space. It is a pretty simple function that doesn’t take many critical components to do in either an electric or compressor centric unit.

Wet air is pulled into the machine and moisture extracted differently depending on the type of dehumidifier. The water collected then needs to be expelled from the machine. This is also handled in various ways that depend on the type of dehumidifier being used.

You set the dehumidifier to reach the desired humidity level (ranging from slight water extraction to great water extraction, or by the percentage of your choice). Once the measurement of the humidity in the room meets the desired level or percentage, the unit turns off.

Many times, it is possible to set the unit to turn off after a determined amount of time, or when the machine grows too cold inside. When the temperature drops too far, it then becomes susceptible to breaking.

There are several different types of dehumidifiers that are designed specifically to work the best in certain sized rooms with various climate conditions. They are categorized by the amount of water they are capable of removing from the air each day.

The units’ sizes come in small, medium, or large, and are sold in those sizes to identify the lesser or greater amount of power each unit has.* Here they are listed below:

  • Desiccant dehumidifiers work great in smaller sized rooms- in both warm and cold temperature, and tend to operate much more quietly than other types.
  • Compressor dehumidifiers have a shorter life span and create more noise than their desiccant counterparts. They are less expensive, and effectively maintain the temperature of the room, also working well for situations where one wouldn’t want to create heat.
  • Thermo-electric dehumidifiers are typically much smaller in size and don’t perform well in cooler temperatures.

*It’s a misconception that these size categories are determined by the size of the collection tank of the unit.

Units designed for the largest sized spaces are more adequate for basements or crawl spaces. The most efficient and effective dehumidifiers to use are those that have been built specifically for use underneath your home. For example, a large dehumidifier designed to be used in a home with an open floor plan may not work up to par in a crawl space that is dusty and damp.

When your goal is to protect your home’s structural integrity or your family’s quality of life, purchasing a unit designed specifically for use in basements and crawl spaces can make the difference. These units can be installed with professional insight and techniques on how they work best.

Placement is Important

Placing a dehumidifier that is large enough and powerful enough into your basement or encapsulated crawl space is important. Only then will it be able to handle the undesirable conditions you are dealing with and bring the humidity levels down.

On the other hand, placing a dehumidifier that is too small for the area will not only leave you with poor performance, but can also put so much strain on the machine that it shortens its lifespan significantly. Additionally, your electric bill will be driven higher without a true justification of the cost.

When installing a basement or crawl space dehumidifier, large spaces can be dehumidified more efficiently if there is an adequate amount of airflow. This can be achieved by placing one or more fans around the outer edges of the space. This will help move the moisture-laden air towards the unit and circulate the dry air around the perimeter.

Our Recommendation

Our team at Barrier has been installing dehumidification systems in basements and crawl spaces for over 20 years. We have worked with some of the top brands in the dehumidification industry and have developed a superior process of preparation, installation, and beautification of musty basements and crawl spaces.

The line of Aprilaire dehumidifiers is our weapon of choice against moisture, featuring units created to address the size, humidity, and temperature of these more rugged environments of your home.

Here are some of the reasons we choose to install Aprilaire in homes across Middle Tennessee:

  • These units use PLC logic to run only when needed, conserving energy.
  • They have a superior removable and reusable filtration system.
  • Priority parts have been replaced with aluminum, instead of copper, for versatility.
  • Built for 40% higher efficiency than competitor models.
  • Designed specifically for use in basements and crawl spaces.

Do i have to maintain my dehumidifier?

Due to the negative effects of indoor humidity, it is understandable that you would want to get the ball rolling on dehumidification. It is also understandable if you have had some reserves when considering whether maintaining the until will require frequent trips to your basement or crawl space.

Well, the good news is these systems are designed for you to be able to walk away for a while without having to empty the collected water or frequently clean the unit.

You may have asked yourself the following question while learning about how dehumidifiers work and how much water they can draw from the air: “Where does the collected water go?”

The answer varies among the different methods of drainage available. Drainage is a big part of the function of a dehumidifier since there has to be somewhere for the water to go after it has been collected. There are a few main ways that dehumidifiers cut their collected water, as detailed below:

Gravity

This option is popular among homeowners that have a floor drain accessible to them. Being a more passive process, gravity draining can help to lower the cost of your dehumidification system.

Draining by gravity will only be possible if the unit is high enough to create the amount of gravity needed to pull the water downward. It will then travel from the unit into the drain and away from the home. This means that the dehumidifier cannot be level with or below the hose and still work correctly. It also means that the higher the unit is positioned, the more productive its drainage will be.

Keep in mind, it is very important for the unit to be secured to a level foundation that is stationary and stable. A dehumidifier set up to operate long term on a compromised foundation will significantly decrease the lifetime of the unit.

Condensate Pump

This method of drainage requires certain electric devices to function, like a pump. Some units have the pump already built-in. Others need a separate pump called a condensate pump.

These pumps are designed, unlike sump pumps, to run continuously in with the unit they are working to expel water from.

While the dehumidifier is collecting the condensation, the condensate pump is working to pump it away into a tank. It is also possible to pump the condensate into a sink drain if a floor drain is not accessible. These devices come with instructions for how to properly attach it to the dehumidifier.

Sump Pump

Connecting your dehumidifier to a hose that empties the water into a sump pump is another option for draining the condensate. Once the sump pump fills with enough water, it will turn on, pumping it away from the home.

Whichever method you choose, a dehumidifier cannot do its job without the ability to drain the condensate away. Depending on how you choose to drain the condensate, will determine how much maintenance you put in later on.

*Tip: using sink or floor drains for dehumidifier drainage could cause a problem in cold temperatures. This is because the drains can freeze and the hose can become blocked. It might be more effective to choose a condensate pump or sump pump for colder climates.

Considering The Cost of Dehumidification

While on your journey to learn all about the dehumidification of your basement or crawl space, you most likely have questioned how much everything will cost.

Maybe you just don’t have the money right now, but want to plan for allocating a budget to the future project. Perhaps you are looking to shop smart by comparing the costs of the different options available to you. Whatever the case may be, making a sound buy is usually best made with some forethought.

The cost of a dehumidification system can be considered more pricey upfront, but the costs you can save in the long run could be exponential.

For example, high humidity puts a toll on your HVAC system, causing it to work much harder for a less effective outcome. A lot of unnecessary wear on the HVAC system is also created, significantly shortening the lifespan of the unit. This problem creates higher utility costs that will naturally go down once the dehumidifier does what it does best. In this scenario, the benefit of the unit begins to pay for itself.

Models that have been rated for energy efficiency can help you save up to 30% on the cost to run it. Your wallet, home, and family will thank you!

Preventing the Cost of High Humidity Damages

If you have read the explanation above about the different effects of damage that high humidity can cause, then you know that there are more costs to incur if the problem is not addressed.

This is relevant when considering the cost of a dehumidification system. For example, the expensive repairs to your home and replacement of your belongings can be prevented by using one.

AdvancedEnergy.org states the following about the benefits of a crawl space encapsulation:

“Besides the potential annual energy savings, there are the added benefits of preventing several common moisture problems, which, in turn, reduce the rate of deterioration of structures and the costs of those associated repairs. Pleasantly (and fortunately!), the construction solution that provides these benefits is a practical, straightforward measure.”  

Weighing options like these can be a lot more bearable than, let’s say, eating vegetables on a diet instead of your favorite dessert, to prevent gaining weight.

Have You Considered All Costs?

A basement or crawlspace might also be in need of other repairs before the condition of the space is ready to be dehumidified. Then, you could see how the cost of an encapsulation or interior/exterior waterproofing installment is relevant to the cost of your home improvement project.

Our team of professionals can take a look around your basement or crawl space and provide you with a consultation of what your unique needs are, as well as the estimated cost.

What Is The Average Cost?

There are several different types of dehumidifiers out there on the market that efficiently create a dry environment in your basement or crawl space. The units vary in size, strength, drainage, type, and the amount of water they can absorb in a day.

Our team here at Barrier will professionally install a dehumidification system from Aprilaire. Our choice is based on over 20 years of experience helping homeowners successfully achieve a more comfortable and healthy climate in their home.

A ballpark estimate cost for a basement or crawl space dehumidifier would be around $1,100 and $2,000, with an average cost of around $27 a month. This cost of course depends on how much you pay for utilities, the size of your basement or crawl space, and how humid those spaces are.

A Word of Warning!

Foundation repairs are not to be taken lightly. It is very important that any area that contributes to foundation damage be routinely monitored.  Examples to look for include cracks, bowing walls, broken or rotting structures, etc.

If there are signs of foundation damage, getting a professional to take a look might reveal deeper issues. Repairing before a problem becomes monumental ensures structural safety and lower repair costs.

Improve Your Quality of Life With Lower Humidity

If you’re one of those people that likes to hear the good news before the bad news, we hope you used our quick links to make it to this section first!

Dehumidification can bring about many benefits for those that are currently living in what may feel like a swamp. Here are some reasons why investing in a dehumidifier can feel like a breath of fresh air:

Cleaner Air

Being that mold and mildew need humid environments to thrive, achieving a low humidity level will end their ability to survive. This applies to your whole home, since there will no longer be humid air rising up into your living spaces from a musty, moist basement or crawl space.

Your entire family can rest easier knowing that the families of dust mites and colonies of mold will no longer fill the air you breathe. The comfort that cleaner and healthier air brings to your body will be a big relief in itself.

Get Relief from Uncomfortable Symptoms

Say goodbye to the allergy-like symptoms and other aggravating health effects brought on by poor air quality. You might finally find relief and get the good night’s sleep you have been looking for!

End Musty Odors

It is possible to have no more worries about the unpleasant odors associated with mold growth. After drying and cleaning up the air, you won’t smell any more musty odors under your holiday blends and scented candles.

Make Your Belongings Last

Enjoy your favorite things longer. The belongings in your home, especially paintings, portraits, and paper items, will last longer and remain in better condition without the presence of excess moisture and mold. Your floorboards will also remain straight and beautiful.

Create Balance for Your Other Systems

Extend the life of other units in your home that are working extra hard, like your HVAC system. By working less at combating moisture, your unit will last longer and cost you less in electricity to operate. It will also be able to efficiently condition your air.

Protect the Integrity of Your Home Structure

Your home’s very structure will be safer and more resilient when it is not being infiltrated by high humidity. The possibility of the consequences of excess moisture can be eliminated. This can happen when the humidity level is brought down to a more reasonable level with a dehumidification system.

Keep in mind any mold, mildew, and rot that may have already grown will still have to be removed.

Ready To Get Started?

All this reading about dehumidification might have left your eyes, well, less humid! We understand there is a lot of information to “absorb” on this topic, and hope we have helped you make the right decision for your family and the protection of your home’s wellbeing.

Barrier Waterproofing Systems offers a full line of basement and crawl space services to keep the foundation of your home in tip-top shape.

Our team of experts installs the most advanced dehumidification systems on the market today. Ask our team of professionals to help you create a safe and healthy living environment for your family to breathe easier.

SCHEDULE AN EVALUATION

Our team of professionals will perform a free evaluation on your basement or crawl space and discuss which waterproofing solutions will be the best fit for your family to improve your quality of life and wellbeing of your home.

Article Authors:

Brooke Britton

Graduated from UTM in 2017, a Registered Nurse dedicated to the quality of care of her patients.

Vivian Hemstead

AA in Journalism, 10+ years experience writing engaging and informative content for both large and small businesses. 

John Trusa

Managing Partner of Barrier Waterproofing Systems LLC., 20+ years experience working with polymers and various plastics forming processes. With his engineering degree he has served as Quality Control Manager and Engineering Manager at a plastics molding facility. He developed a background in sealants and adhesives from his years working at General Electric.

references

Heat and humidity created by a relaxing shower is a comfortable experience.  But, if all the rooms in your home were as hot and humid, you might then describe those spaces as muggy or stuffy! Excess moisture in living spaces is downright uncomfortable. Yet, there are a large number of homeowners that experience this every day.

If any of this sounds familiar, ask yourself:

  • Does your home have a finished or unfinished basement?  Both are susceptible to the problems that moisture intrusion can cause.
  • Does your home have an encapsulated crawl space foundation done by a professional? Sealed and exposed crawl space foundations can suffer from moisture intrusion, despite appearance.

Learn more about the type of foundation your home has and why.

When combined with the proper waterproofing systems, a professionally installed dehumidification system can prevent a variety of problems caused by excess moisture in the air. You CAN achieve cleaner, drier air throughout your home!  This article will answer and address:

  • I What is a Crawl Space and Basement?
  • II Signs of High Humidity
  • III Causes of High Humidity
  • IV Fighting High Humidity   
  • V Do I Need a Dehumidifier?
  • VI Which Dehumidifier is Right for Me?
  • VII Considering Maintenance
  • VIII Considering Cost
  • IX Improve Your Quality of Life

What is a Basement? What is a Crawl Space?

Basements and crawl spaces are at risk of very similar problems when it comes to moisture. Although both are different.

Image by BYHYU.com

Crawl Space

The foundation of a crawl space tends to be a few feet off the ground. The construction is less expensive than that of a basement, and is like a slab foundation. Whereas, it uses a poured footing and concrete blocks to create the foundation that will support the walls of the structure.

Vulnerabilities to Moisture

A large drawback to the crawlspace foundation is that it is very prone to moisture if you do not get it closed off effectively. Even with the use of plastic sheeting on the ground, it is still possible for mold and moisture to build.

Basements

In a nutshell, a basement is an empty space under your home that is 8 feet deep (or more) that has a concrete slab at the bottom. Older basement walls used to be built with cement blocks, resulting in structural failures and leaks as they got older.

Modern basements have poured concrete walls to help ease the impact of the common problems related to structural integrity and moisture saturation.

Vulnerabilities to Moisture

Be sure to get your basement hooked up with a sump pump to prevent it from flooding. Battery backups, generators, and water-flow backups are highly recommended to prevent flooding.

The best-case scenario for basement drainage is to provide a natural path for the water to follow, which can be done with either an interior or exterior waterproofing system.

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Signs of High Humidity? 

Chances are, you are reading this today because you have a hunch there is too much humidity in your basement or crawl space. If you haven’t yet found enough evidence to know for sure, take a look at the list below of the top signs of high humidity found in your home.

The Walls

Photo by NewLifeRestoration.net

If you find mold and mildew growth on your walls that returns after being cleaned, this could mean there is excess moisture in the air of your home.

Your walls may feel moist to the touch, and the paint might be cracking or peeling up. Some areas of paint on the walls may even begin to bubble up, filling with water.

The Windows

Photo by FarnumInsulators.com

Mold can grow on your windows and won’t retreat after being cleaned if there is still excess moisture to feed on. Check your windows for frequent condensation or water accumulating in small puddles on your window sills.

Musty Odors & Unpleasant Smells

A musty smell that might remind you of a stale cloth is another known sign of high humidity levels in your home. The high humidity will increase the strength of musty odors from the most regular of sources.

Musty smells in your basement or crawl space is also an indicator of mold or mildew growth, as well as the possible presence of wood rot!

Wood Rot

Photo by DryProSystems.com

There are several different ways that rot can present as it eats away at your home’s structure. It is very important to know what to look for when working towards implementing a solution. One of the primary ways to identify wood rot is to look at the color of the rot itself. For example, wood infected with white rot will cause the wood to appear whiter in color compared to uninfected wood in your basement or crawl space. The same will go for brown rot and other types of rot that can create a black, grey, or even blue hue on the wood’s surface.

Aside from a difference in the color of the wood, a change in its shape is also a good indicator that wood rot is taking its toll. This can be seen in the wood structure of a basement or crawl space when the wood looks soft or profusely cracked. This is otherwise known as soft rot.  Any sign of rot is a sign of excess humidity levels inside the environment of basements and crawl spaces.

Allergy Like Symptoms

If you are experiencing consistent allergy or cold-like symptoms, it could be from dust mites that thrive on high humidity.

Dust mites can cause aggravating symptoms for people that have asthma. This includes difficulty breathing, tightness of the chest, wheezing during exhaling, and more frequent or stronger bouts of coughing.

The American Lung Association promotes maintaining a humidity level of below 50% to prevent dust mites from growing in your home.

How To Be Sure Humidity is the Cause?

You might be experiencing some of the less obvious signs of high humidity. For example, a buildup of frost or ice on some surfaces in their basements and crawl spaces.  Also, a “damp” feeling in the air and in their clothes as they move around their home.

The most accurate way to check the level of humidity in your home is to measure with a hygrometer! They are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased at your local hardware store for around $10. You will want to see a reading of around 50% to 60% humidity measured from the air.

If levels are greater than 60%, you can know for sure that the humidity has reached excessive amounts.

Don’t Overlook The Signs of High Humidity

Don’t overlook the signs of excess moisture.  It is crucial to consider what these indicators could be telling you about. Excess moisture damage to exposed structures will only increase in severity over time.

The presence of white rot on floor joists in your crawl space may appear to be a slight discoloration of the wood. Unfortunately, a chemical reaction may be taking place in the wood, and white rot may be setting in.

The same is true for cracks in basement foundation walls.   This is because a compromise in the wall will grow with time, leading to larger cracks. In some cases, even collapsing the wall!

Some of these signs of excess humidity might seem unnoticeable during drier seasons (ie, winter). They could then become more pronounced or even very obvious during bouts of stormy, wet weather. Checking problem areas monthly will help you get a feel for what is normal. You will also develop a better sense of what might be linked to a more serious problem. These areas are best addressed sooner than later.

What Is Causing the High Humidity in My Home?

High humidity in your basement or crawl space can increase the humidity levels of your entire home.

Due to certain processes like the Stack Effect, the air from your basement or encapsulated crawl space cycles up through your home and escapes from the attic. This means that high amounts of moisture in the air below your home, as well as any mold or mildew, will continuously be brought upward. Your living areas will become filled with this air and any contaminants that exist in it.

Image by DryMich.com

Listed below are some of the major reasons basements and crawl spaces can accumulate enough moisture to cause high humidity indoors. Let’s take a look:

Moisture Intrusion From The Ground

A word of caution for homeowners with crawl spaces that have not been encapsulated or properly maintained: the bare earthen ground contributes to problematic moisture.

When left exposed, moisture from the ground will freely evaporate into your crawl space environment.

This is also possible when a poor quality plastic sheeting is being used on the ground. It takes a thick, high-quality vapor barrier material to seal out moisture. Otherwise, the moisture will permeate the plastic and enter the crawl space.

Crawl Space Vents

For homeowners with vented crawl spaces: the communication between the outside air and crawl space interior alone is enough to create high humidity problems. Once designed to allow for free airflow, crawl space vents kept temperatures down in warmer weather before the normalization of air conditioning units in the early 1950s.

Advances in technology and a major shift in how we regulate our homes have long since changed this process. Sealing off these vents can provide the benefits of a more dry and stable crawl space environment.

Outside Elements

Your crawl space may fill up with water in areas that are particularly prone to lots of heavy rain and frequent flooding. Once this water has accumulated, it can remain there as several inches of standing water underneath your home.

Cracks in the foundation walls can increase the amount of standing water, allowing water to seep in. This usually occurs after enough pressure has built up from the saturated surrounding earth. A host of both interior and exterior drainage options are available for diverting heavy amounts of water in the saturated soil away from the foundation of your home.

Appliances and Plumbing

Other sources that can contribute to moisture intrusion in your basement or crawl space could include appliances and plumbing.

A broken plumbing pipe running across the ceiling can leak grey water onto the ground indefinitely if gone unnoticed. Condensation on these pipes or any appliances in your crawl space, such as HVAC equipment, can further contribute to moisture accumulation.

Additionally, poorly placed downspouts can expel water right next to your foundation. These downspouts are placed about 10 feet away from the home, and can pour excessive amounts of water directly onto your foundation walls. This will continue to increase the amount of hydrostatic pressure as the moisture builds up.

Don’t Drown, Get That Humidity Down!

Have you ever felt like you’ve had to put a little extra effort into walking through the environment of your home, almost as if “wading” through a heavy amount of moisture in the air?

Relaxing around the house can be made much less relaxing when your clothes feel like they are sticking to your skin. It is difficult still when you are experiencing some of the other discomforts that high humidity levels can cause. Besides discomfort, a damp climate in your home can prove to have negative effects on the health of those living inside, as well as of the house itself!

We will walk you through some of them below:

Mold and Mildew Growth

High humidity is synonymous with mold and mildew growth. It requires moisture as part of a collection of variables that allow it to grow and spread. An outbreak of mold can mean it is detrimental that your home’s humidity levels get reduced as soon as possible. If left unchecked, it will only continue to grow. The possibility of the destruction to the structures of your home will vary depending on the type of mold growth and what it is feeding on.

Your foundation’s integrity is not the only thing at risk, seeing that our bodies do not do well with sharing an environment with mold. Some molds are toxic and produce substances that can harm us. For example, “Stachybotrys chartarum” naturally creates a toxin called mycotoxin. It is typically known as the black mold you may see in the bottom corner of your basement walls.

With prolonged exposure to toxins thriving in high humidity climates, your respiratory system and other parts of your body can be negatively affected. A variety of health issues can form in a person being continuously exposed to toxic mold and mildew. Using an air purifier or air conditioner to help filter out mold from being breathed in is not enough. One must simply get the humidity levels lowered sufficiently to inhibit mold and mildew growth.

Listed below are some of the symptoms you and your family might experience if you have been affected by mold poisoning:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble thinking clearly/foggy-headedness
  • Inflammation of the skin
  • Compromised immune system
  • Cough ranging from slight to asthmatic

Dust Mite Infestation

Maybe your household isn’t worrying about a barrage of mold and mildew growth, but is instead dealing with an infestation of dust mites. According to the American Lung Association, about 80% of home environments in the United States are being infiltrated by dust mites.

Breathing in dust mites can create the same unpleasant experience as many other allergens. Dust mite allergy symptoms can range from a more mild and irritating experience to severe difficulties of important functions. These include frequent sneezing, itchy or weeping eyes, a runny nose, blocked sinuses, bouts of coughing, and other respiratory discomforts.

Standing Water

Vented, unencapsulated crawl spaces can harbor great amounts of moisture. This moisture can accumulate from the outside air or when groundwater wicks up from under the surface of the dirt, from as deep as 1,000 feet!

Wood Rot

Earlier in this article, we explained how to spot wood rot growing on the structures of your home. The damaging effects of wood rot can prove dangerous if given enough time to eat away at the wood. Especially, if it affects your home’s foundation. Believe it or not, wooden structures can become up to 75% weaker with as little as a 1% loss of wood density!

Dry rot, a common type of rot caused by humidity-loving fungi, can cause floor joists to become so brittle they crumble at the touch. Don’t let the appearance of extremely dry wood fool you to how much moisture is in the air.

Also, metal fittings and other components used to build wooden structures, can rust if enough moisture is present in the air. This will cause an even more significant decrease in structural strength.

Hydrostatic Pressure

It is important to properly seal the area that your dehumidifier is going to be working in. Keep all windows, doors, and vents closed, as well as sealing off any other large openings to the outside climate. Although it may appear that a finished basement would provide protection from outside moisture, this may not be true. 

This is because a force called hydrostatic pressure is present when a significant amount of water collects around your home.

The deeper your home’s foundation is built, the greater the hydrostatic pressure can become. This pressure can grow stronger as water accumulates in the soil surrounding your home. It presses on the foundation walls and can dramatically compromise their integrity over time, eventually causing breakage and even complete collapse!

Image by TarHeelBasementSystems.com

Once the walls have reached the point of breakage, significant amounts of water can begin to enter the basement. Behind those beautifully painted panels of drywall could lie a very active infiltration of moisture.

Damage to Belongings

Not only does high humidity cause discomfort, it can also damage your belongings. Sensitive items like antiques or electronics are especially prone to moisture damage and should be protected until the highly humid conditions can be resolved.

Other items like clothes, books, and long-term storage foods, can be ruined by absorbing excess moisture. Replacing valuable items that have been affected while being stored away can be very costly or nearly impossible to replace.

Devaluing Your Home and Property

Another significant effect excess indoor moisture can have on your home is that it can lower the value of your property. A property that naturally accumulates moisture from the perimeter will always cause moisture issues for the home.

There are solutions to fix these problems, like grading the land or installing the appropriate waterproofing systems. Without these measures, the house will only continue to degrade over time, both inside and out.

Making an investment in these services upfront can prove well worth the cost in the future. It can help you avoid having to pay for expensive moisture-related repairs or replacements while getting everything ready for the market. This will also show that your home has retained a large part of its structural integrity over the years. You just might thank yourself for having made it easier to sell your home!

How Much Humidity is Just Right?

An ideal humidity level to achieve in your home is around 30% to 50%, but no higher than 60%. As you may have learned earlier in this article, humidity levels higher than that will open the door for growing mold, dust mites, and a host of other problems. In as little as 2 days of humidity above 60%, mold and mildew will start to grow!

Your dehumidifier is able to tell you how much moisture is in the air by using a device called a humidistat. This makes it possible to measure moisture a lot like how a thermostat measures temperature.

Unless the underlying problem that is causing the moisture intrusion is resolved, any efforts you make to dehumidify your basement or crawl space will be greatly undermined.

Think of the process like using a mop to soak up water off of the ground- except the water is continuously running from a faucet. The mop will be able to absorb some of the water, even if it is wrung out and set back down. It will not, however, be able to get up all the water until the faucet is turned off.

If you have already chosen the waterproofing method that is right for your family and had it professionally installed, then you’re well on your way to achieving a comfortably dry indoor climate.

Whether the problem is corrected from inside or outside the house is not the main focus. The goal is to help the dehumidifier perform like it should since it will not have to combat a consistent replenishing of moisture.

Does my Basement or Crawl Space Need a Dehumidifier?

So, you have come this far in learning about the effects of high humidity and why you should work to keep it down (as well as how!).

No one wants to continue experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of feeling like they live in a fishbowl.

If that is the case, we hope this information has been providing you with some clear and inspiring motivation for solving the problem, but wait! Before you go off and schedule a dehumidification installation, it is important to have a good understanding of whether your basement or crawl space is ready for this solution.

Allow us to explain: A basement or crawl space dehumidifier unit works to control the environment it is put to work in. This means that it was made to do the specific job of making a humid environment more arid and clear. This can be next to impossible in certain conditions where simply too much moisture is present and constantly replenishing.

Some basements or crawl spaces that feel more manageable might still have humidity levels that both exceed what is healthy for your home. A condition like this will significantly tax the efforts of your dehumidifier.

A dehumidification system will not work effectively unless it is installed in a properly sealed environment. Single-room dehumidifiers are typically placed in a room where the doors and windows are shut, since letting moisture-laden air into the room will immediately create a conflict for your unit’s performance.

According to AdvancedEnergy.org, “…The dehumidifier alone might not be enough to reduce RH (Relative Humidity) levels below mold-forming thresholds. The impact of dehumidification relies on many factors such as dehumidifier size and removal capacity, crawl space size, and air leakage to the outside to control the balance of water vapor entering and leaving the crawl space.”

Here are some questions to ask yourself about whether you need a dehumidifier in your basement or crawl space:

Do I have Standing Water?

Do you remember our explanation about large puddles of standing water from the list of many common causes of high humidity that were listed earlier in this article?

If so, and you know they are present in your basement or crawl space, you will want to have this problem solved before implementing a dehumidifier. Without this step, nearly all you and your machine’s efforts will be diffused.

Standing water in a crawl space can be resolved with a professional encapsulation installation. Simply, the earth floor of the crawl space is covered with a thick, high-quality plastic vapor barrier sheeting. This seals out the excess moisture that would otherwise evaporate into the space and collect into puddles of standing water.

Is My Basement Finished?

Perhaps your basement or crawl space has already been modified in some way or even entirely finished. These rooms are no less important to consider when preparing them for a dehumidification system. This is because, although the type of unit might prove to be the best pick for underneath your home, there may very well be some aesthetic or practical variables to consider before installation.

Let’s say your basement has been turned into a comfortable living space with carpeted flooring. You may not find it desirable to have a dehumidification unit (complete with ductwork) placed in the middle of the room. Some design adjustments can help solve this problem, while some rooms might need a little remodeling.

What Am I Storing?

As with many things in life, you might want to be prepared for any special circumstances. Say you have decided to buy a large stockpile of long term storage foods and keep them in your encapsulated crawl space. The humidity level might maintain a range of comfort.  Yet, you will want to have the assurance that it is also maintaining the food’s shelf life.

Many homeowners store large amounts of cloth, paper, and other materials that are vulnerable to moisture in their basements whether they are finished or not. A dehumidification system can help protect the storage from becoming compromised by moisture.

Are Dehumidification Systems Loud?

Naturally, the larger the dehumidifier is, the louder the humming noise will be. Deciding to place your dehumidifier in the basement or crawl space instead of your home’s main floor can make this part of the buying journey much simpler. Your family can get the benefits of cleaner, drier air while the noise of the unit is kept out and away from the living spaces of your home.

This of course applies best to unfinished basements or crawl spaces, since a finished basement might already be in use as another living space. For spaces that are being lived in, you will want to consider the unit’s placement and what kind of construction options you have available. When done right, it might be possible to hide the unit or dampen its sound.

One way you can be sure your dehumidifier doesn’t make more noise than it was designed to is to place it on a stable and secure foundation that is completely level during installation. This is actually a very important step- not just for noise, but for preserving the lifetime of the unit.

Which Dehumidifier is Right for Me?

Let’s first take a quick look at how a dehumidifier does its job. The main goal of a dehumidifier is to remove a certain amount of humidity from a given space. It is a pretty simple function that doesn’t take many critical components to do in either an electric or compressor centric unit.

Image by EssentialHomeandGarden.com

Wet air is pulled into the machine and moisture extracted differently depending on the type of dehumidifier. The water collected then needs to be expelled from the machine. This is also handled in various ways that depend on the type of dehumidifier being used.

You set the dehumidifier to reach a desired humidity level (ranging from slight water extraction to great water extraction, or by the percentage of your choice). Once the measurement of the humidity in the room meets the desired level or percentage, the unit turns off.

Many times, it is possible to set the unit to turn off after a determined amount of time, or when the machine grows too cold inside. When the temperature drops too far, it then becomes susceptible to breaking.

There are several different types of dehumidifiers that are designed specifically to work the best in certain sized rooms with various climate conditions. They are categorized by the amount of water they are capable of removing from the air each day. The units’ sizes come in small, medium, or large, and are sold in those sizes to identify the lesser or greater amount of power each unit has.* Here they are listed below:

*It’s a misconception that these size categories are determined by the size of the collection tank of the unit.

  • Desiccant dehumidifiers work great in smaller sized rooms- in both warm and cold temperature, and tend to operate much more quietly than other types.
  • Compressor dehumidifiers have a shorter life span and create more noise than their desiccant counterparts. They are less expensive, and effectively maintain the temperature of the room, also working well for situations where one wouldn’t want to create heat.
  • Thermo-electric dehumidifiers are typically much smaller in size and don’t perform well in cooler temperatures.

Units designed for the largest sized spaces are more adequate for basements or crawl spaces. The most efficient and effective dehumidifiers to use are those that have been built specifically for use underneath your home. For example, a large dehumidifier designed to be used in a home with an open floor plan may not work up to par in a crawl space that is dusty and damp.

When your goal is to protect your home’s structural integrity or your family’s quality of life, purchasing a unit designed specifically for use in basements and crawl spaces can make the difference. These units can be installed with professional insight and techniques on how they work best.

Placement is Important

Placing a dehumidifier that is large enough and powerful enough into your basement or encapsulated crawl space is important. Only then will it be able to handle the undesirable conditions you are dealing with and bring the humidity levels down.

On the other hand, placing a dehumidifier that is too small for the area will not only leave you with poor performance, but can also put so much strain on the machine that it shortens its lifespan significantly. Additionally, your electric bill will be driven higher without a true justification of the cost.

When installing a basement or crawl space dehumidifier, large spaces can be dehumidified more efficiently if there is an adequate amount of airflow. This can be achieved by placing one or more fans around the outer edges of the space. This will help move the moisture-laden air towards the unit and circulate the dry air around the perimeter.

Our Recommendation

Our team at Barrier has been installing dehumidification systems in basements and crawl spaces for over 20 years. We have worked with some of the top brands in the dehumidification industry and have developed a superior process of preparation, installation, and beautification of musty basements and crawl spaces.

The line of Aprilaire dehumidifiers is our weapon of choice against moisture, featuring units created to address the size, humidity, and temperature of these more rugged environments of your home.

Here are some of the reasons we choose to install Aprilaire in homes across Middle Tennessee:

  • These units use PLC logic to run only when needed, conserving energy.
  • They have a superior removable and reusable filtration system.
  • Priority parts have been replaced with aluminum, instead of copper, for versatility.
  • Built for 40% higher efficiency than competitor models.
  • Designed specifically for use in basements and crawl spaces.

Do I Have to Maintain My Dehumidifier?

Due to the negative effects of indoor humidity, it is understandable that you would want to get the ball rolling on dehumidification. It is also understandable if you have had some reserves when considering whether maintaining the until will require frequent trips to your basement or crawl space. Well, the good news is these systems are designed for you to be able to walk away for a while without having to empty the collected water or frequently clean the unit.

You may have asked yourself the following question while learning about how dehumidifiers work and how much water they can draw from the air: “Where does the collected water go?”

The answer varies among the different methods of drainage available. Drainage is a big part of the function of a dehumidifier since there has to be somewhere for the water to go after it has been collected. There are a few main ways that dehumidifiers cut their collected water, as detailed below:

Gravity

This option is popular among homeowners that have a floor drain accessible to them. Being a more passive process, gravity draining can help to lower the cost of your dehumidification system.

Draining by gravity will only be possible if the unit is high enough to create the amount of gravity needed to pull the water downward. It will then travel from the unit into the drain and away from the home. This means that the dehumidifier cannot be level with or below the hose and still work correctly. It also means that the higher the unit is positioned, the more productive its drainage will be.

Keep in mind, it is very important for the unit to be secured to a level foundation that is stationary and stable. A dehumidifier set up to operate long term on a compromised foundation will significantly decrease the lifetime of the unit.

Condensate Pump

This method of drainage requires certain electric devices to function, like a pump. Some units have the pump already built-in. Others need a separate pump called a condensate pump.

These pumps are designed, unlike sump pumps, to run continuously in with the unit they are working to expel water from.

While the dehumidifier is collecting the condensation, the condensate pump is working to pump it away into a tank. It is also possible to pump the condensate into a sink drain if a floor drain is not accessible. These devices come with instructions for how to properly attach it to the dehumidifier.

Sump Pump

Connecting your dehumidifier to a hose that empties the water into a sump pump is another option for draining the condensate. Once the sump pump fills with enough water, it will turn on, pumping it away from the home.

Whichever method you choose, a dehumidifier cannot do its job without the ability to drain the condensate away. Depending on how you choose to drain the condensate, will determine how much maintenance you put in later on.

*Tip: using sink or floor drains for dehumidifier drainage could cause a problem in cold temperatures. This is because the drains can freeze and the hose can become blocked. It might be more effective to choose a condensate pump or sump pump for colder climates.

Considering The Cost of Dehumidification

While on your journey to learn all about the dehumidification of your basement or crawl space, you most likely have questioned how much everything will cost.

Maybe you just don’t have the money right now, but want to plan for allocating a budget to the future project. Perhaps you are looking to shop smart by comparing the costs of the different options available to you. Whatever the case may be, making a sound buy is usually best made with some forethought.

The cost of a dehumidification system can be considered more pricey upfront, but the costs you can save in the long run could be exponential.

For example, high humidity puts a toll on your HVAC system, causing it to work much harder for a less effective outcome. A lot of unnecessary wear on the HVAC system is also created, significantly shortening the lifespan of the unit. This problem creates higher utility costs that will naturally go down once the dehumidifier does what it does best. In this scenario, the benefit of the unit begins to pay for itself.

Models that have been rated for energy efficiency can help you save up to 30% on the cost to run it. Your wallet, home, and family will thank you!

Preventing the Cost of High Humidity Damages

If you have read the explanation above about the different effects of damage that high humidity can cause, then you know that there are more costs to incur if the problem is not addressed.

This is relevant when considering the cost of a dehumidification system. For example, the expensive repairs to your home and replacement of your belongings can be prevented by using one.

AdvancedEnergy.org states the following about the benefits of a crawl space encapsulation:

“Besides the potential annual energy savings, there are the added benefits of preventing several common moisture problems, which, in turn, reduce the rate of deterioration of structures and the costs of those associated repairs. Pleasantly (and fortunately!), the construction solution that provides these benefits is a practical, straightforward measure.”  

Weighing options like these can be a lot more bearable than, let’s say, eating vegetables on a diet instead of your favorite dessert, to prevent gaining weight.

Have You Considered All Costs?

A basement or crawlspace might also be in need of other repairs before the condition of the space is ready to be dehumidified. Then, you could see how the cost of an encapsulation or interior/exterior waterproofing installment is relevant to the cost of your home improvement project.

Our team of professionals can take a look around your basement or crawl space and provide you with a consultation of what your unique needs are, as well as the estimated cost.

What Is The Average Cost?

There are several different types of dehumidifiers out there on the market that efficiently create a dry environment in your basement or crawl space. The units vary in size, strength, drainage, type, and the amount of water they can absorb in a day. Our team here at Barrier will professionally install a dehumidification system from Aprilaire. Our choice is based on over 20 years of experience helping homeowners successfully achieve a more comfortable and healthy climate in their home.

A ballpark estimate cost for a basement or crawl space dehumidifier would be around $1,100 and $2,000, with an average cost of around $27 a month. This cost of course depends on how much you pay for utilities, the size of your basement or crawl space, and how humid those spaces are.

A Word of Warning!

Foundation repairs are not to be taken lightly. It is very important that any area that contributes to foundation damage be routinely monitored.  Examples to look for include cracks, bowing walls, broken or rotting structures, etc.

If there are signs of foundation damage, getting a professional to take a look might reveal deeper issues. Repairing before a problem becomes monumental ensures structural safety and lower repair costs.

Improve Your Quality of Life With Lower Humidity

If you’re one of those people that likes to hear the good news before the bad news, we hope you used our quick links to make it to this section first!

Dehumidification can bring about many benefits for those that are currently living in what may feel like a swamp. Here are some reasons why investing in a dehumidifier can feel like a breath of fresh air:

Cleaner Air

Being that mold and mildew need humid environments to thrive, achieving a low humidity level will end their ability to survive. This applies to your whole home, since there will no longer be humid air rising up into your living spaces from a musty, moist basement or crawl space.

Your entire family can rest easier knowing that the families of dust mites and colonies of mold will no longer fill the air you breathe. The comfort that cleaner and healthier air brings to your body will be a big relief in itself.

Get Relief from Uncomfortable Symptoms

Say goodbye to the allergy-like symptoms and other aggravating health effects brought on by poor air quality. You might finally find relief and get the good night’s sleep you have been looking for!

End Musty Odors

It is possible to have no more worries about the unpleasant odors associated with mold growth. After drying and cleaning up the air, you won’t smell any more musty odors under your holiday blends and scented candles.

Make Your Belongings Last

Enjoy your favorite things longer. The belongings in your home, especially paintings, portraits, and paper items, will last longer and remain in better condition without the presence of excess moisture and mold. Your floorboards will also remain straight and beautiful.

Create Balance for Your Other Systems

Extend the life of other units in your home that are working extra hard, like your HVAC system. By working less at combating moisture, your unit will last longer and cost you less in electricity to operate. It will also be able to efficiently condition your air.

Protect the Integrity of Your Home Structure

Your home’s very structure will be safer and more resilient when it is not being infiltrated by high humidity. The possibility of the consequences of excess moisture can be eliminated. This can happen when the humidity level is brought down to a more reasonable level with a dehumidification system.

Keep in mind any mold, mildew, and rot that may have already grown will still have to be removed.

Ready To Get Started?

All this reading about dehumidification might have left your eyes, well, less humid! We understand there is a lot of information to “absorb” on this topic, and hope we have helped you make the right decision for your family and the protection of your home’s wellbeing.

Barrier Waterproofing Systems offers a full line of basement and crawl space services to keep the foundation of your home in tip-top shape.

Our team of experts installs the most advanced dehumidification systems on the market today. Ask our team of professionals to help you create a safe and healthy living environment for your family to breathe easier.

About BARRIER

Barrier Waterproofing Systems is an educated, responsible, and innovative company specializing in Basement & Crawl Space Waterproofing and Foundation Repair. Our goal is to properly control the common moisture intrusion issues with your house and allow you to further increase the quality of the environment inside your home.

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Our team of professionals will perform a free evaluation on your basement or crawl space and discuss which waterproofing solutions will be the best fit for your family to improve your quality of life and wellbeing of your home.

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Our team of professionals will perform a free evaluation on your basement or crawl space and discuss which waterproofing solutions will be the best fit for your family to improve your quality of life and wellbeing of your home.

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