Do I Need a Dehumidifier in My Basement?

Do basements require dehumidifiers to prevent moisture buildup in your home? A dehumidifier can be the solution if you suspect that the air in your home contains too much moisture. High humidity levels increase the risk of property damage and offer serious health problems. 

High moisture levels result in mold, which can quickly develop once a surface or appliance becomes damp, is exposed to too much moisture, or leaks. You need a dehumidifier in your basement to reduce moisture levels, improve air quality, and prevent structural damage.

The weather in most West Coast regions gets warm and humid during the summer months. Without a dehumidifier, the basement in my barndominium would have fallen apart by now. Below, I detail the benefit of having one in your basement and why it’s important.

A Dehumidifier Next to a Chair
A Frigidaire Dehumidifier. Image Credit: Sylvane

Signs that you need a basement dehumidifier

Most homeowners use their air conditioners to escape the heat as the days become warmer. However, humidity can have just as much of an impact on health, comfort, and home preservation as temperature does. 

Some of the signs that you need a basement dehumidifier include the following:

1. Abnormal smells

A wet, musty stench is perhaps the most evident indication that moisture is an issue in your home. The odor may only be present in the basement or the living area below the house.

2. A cold and clammy feeling

While air conditioners offer some moisture removal in the home, a basement dehumidifier does more. Because humidity makes us feel warmer, many homes in the winter have the air conditioning set lower than is comfortable, creating a chilly but damp environment.

3. Bugs

Crawling creatures frequently choose wet, gloomy environments. The crawlspace or even the basement is the ideal place in many houses. A dehumidifier in the basement or crawlspace might make your home less appealing if bugs are an issue.

4. Condensation

Condensation on windows and walls indicates that your home is too humid. This moisture buildup occurs during the cold months when outside temperatures drop compared to higher indoor temperatures. Cold surfaces cause warm and humid indoor air to condense. 

5. Destruction of property

High air humidity levels can also harm wood flooring, crown molding, and household possessions like guitars. If this occurs often, chances are you have an indoor humidity problem. 

If you also notice that your households are covered in rust, moisture may be the cause. Many smaller dehumidifiers in retail stores cannot handle the moist conditions in a typical-sized home.

How to choose a dehumidifier for your basement

The important factors when choosing a basement dehumidifier include the following:

1. Basement size and appropriate dehumidifier size

It’s crucial to pick a dehumidifier whose capacity corresponds to the size of the basement area. For a 500-square-foot area, I advise choosing a dehumidifier that can store 10 pints of water and 4 pints for each additional 500 square feet.

Therefore, a dehumidifier with around an 18-pint capacity would be required for a 1,500-square-foot basement. Also, go for a dehumidifier that can handle 12 pints of water for a 500-square-foot area and 5 pints for each extra 500 square feet if the basement is particularly wet. 

So, a dehumidifier with a minimum 22-pint capacity would be required for a 1,500-square-foot basement that is exceptionally moist.

2. Drainage

There are some portable dehumidifiers with manual draining. As a result, water gathers in a bucket. Particularly in an extremely moist or damp basement, the water bucket must be removed and emptied regularly. 

It’s also crucial to remember that when the water bucket is full, the device shuts off and ceases to extract moisture from the air until the bucket is emptied.

Installing an automated draining dehumidifier is a more practical choice. A dehumidifier can automatically drain water in two ways: by using gravity and a drain hose or by using a condensate pump.

3. Features of the basement dehumidifier

While it’s essential to choose the proper dehumidifier for the size and circumstances of the basement, it’s also a good idea to check for additional features that can make the device more straightforward to use and address other demands, such as air filtration.

A typical basement dehumidifier’s attributes are:

  • Automatic Humidistat: An automatic humidistat switches the dehumidifier on and off to maintain the optimum humidity level and conserve energy.
  • Air Filter: Some basement dehumidifiers contain an air filter that captures allergens and particles, reducing allergy symptoms and safeguarding the unit’s components from harm brought on by dust and debris.
  • Automatic restart: In the event of a power outage, an automatic restart system will restart the dehumidifier.
  • An automatic defrost mechanism melts ice accumulation on the unit to keep the dehumidifier running in cold climates.
  • Low-Temperature Operation: A dehumidifier that operates and performs in low temperatures is excellent for use in a basement or crawl space.

How to reduce humidity in the basement 

You must take quick action if your basement has too much moisture before it gets out of hand. The cost will decrease the earlier you find the issue and repair it.

Additionally, if the problem is not fixed, your family may have health problems like the common cold, allergy reactions, and mold issues.

To prevent that, do the following:

1. Avoid wall condensation

Checking your basement for water leaks and sources is the best and most efficient approach to prevent condensation on the walls. The leading causes of a humid basement include leaky windows and stagnant water. 

Your basement may also become humid if windows and walls have gaps or are not adequately sealed.

2. Use fans for ventilation

Install ventilation fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to control moisture and lower the basement’s humidity levels. In addition, make sure the HVAC system in your home has routine maintenance and inspections to ensure it is operating efficiently.

3. Install a floor drain

The amount of humidity reduction provided by employing a paint sealer to waterproof interior walls is little. However, the humidity can be decreased by insulating the basement walls and adding a floor drain to help stop water from leaking into the basement.

4. Install a sump pump

Installing a sump pump aids in lowering the basement’s humidity levels. In addition, the sump pump aids in diverting water more than 20 meters away from the foundation of your house.

5. Redirect water flow

Even though this activity is probably straightforward, many people fail to complete it. To reroute the flow of rainwater and ensure a constant stream, clean and reconnect the gutter system. 

Rework the landscaping to direct water flow away from the foundation rather than in its direction. A French drain around your house prevents water from damaging the basement and foundation.

6. Utilize plants

Although it’s important to remove plants when the basement has too much moisture, some plants can help reduce the humidity in the air. Plants like the peace lily, which needs minimal sunshine to thrive, use their leaves to absorb excess moisture from the air and are ideal for basement use.


A basement dehumidifier can stop the rot and mold that excess moisture can bring about. In addition, the interior air quality of the house can be enhanced by installing a dehumidifier in the basement. 

Get one today since it’ll save you a lot in the long term as far as the basement maintenance costs are concerned.

Frequently Asked Question

How do I know if my basement needs a dehumidifier?

Some of the signs that you need a dehumidifier include the following:

  1. Condensation on doors and windows.
  2. Musty and wet smells indoors.
  3. A cold and clammy feeling.
  4. Bugs in the house.
  5. Rust, paint blistering, and property distraction.
  6. Creaky doors and windows.

What happens when you don’t use a dehumidifier in the basement?

If you don’t use a dehumidifier in your basement, your basement will have too much moisture which will lead to excess condensation on walls, windows, doors, and ceilings. Excess moisture will stain surfaces, promote the growth of mold and mildew, damage wall paint, and cost a lot of money to fix.

Do you run a dehumidifier in the basement in the winter?

You should use a dehumidifier in your basement in the winter to prevent the buildup of moisture. Since the winter is cold and the basement rarely gets any sunlight and heat from outside, it’s easy for moisture to build up in such an area.

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