A basement can be a lot of things, depending on the needs of the homeowner.
It can be a storage space or a laundry room.
It can be a workshop or a place to pursue hobbies.
It can be living space, like a family room or even bedrooms.
Regrettably, a basement can also be a source of an unhealthy home and can cause health problems for the family that lives above. The main cause of an unhealthy basement is water, whether detectable seepage or just dampness and humidity. Seepage, of course can be prevented through a number of tested basement waterproofing methods but dampness and humidity require a different approach.
So, what can humidity do in a residential basement? It may be surprising:
Cause Bacteria Growth – Humidity creates a breeding ground for colonies of bacteria which, just like mold, grow with warmth, moisture and organic matter (wood, drywall, carpet, etc.) for food.
Increase Presence of Pests – High humidity and dampness in a basement attract mice, rats and cockroaches. Medical studies have shown that waste material from these animals and insects is a trigger for asthma and creates an unhealthy environment for people with respiratory illnesses.
Provide Environment for Dust Mites – Dust mites are a common source of allergic reactions, particularly respiratory ones. These annoyances thrive in a warm, moist environment and infiltrate surfaces all over the home.
Promote Mold Growth – Perhaps the most serious problem caused by high basement humidity is the growth of mold. Not only can mold destroy the surfaces on which it grows but it can create a serious health risk as well. Mold spores that grow in a humid basement can be carried by HVAC systems and by an air circulation phenomenon known as the “stack effect” all over the house where they can cause unpleasant odors, allergic reactions and illnesses.
Before installing a basement dehumidifier, any seepage problems in the basement should be permanently and professionally repaired using interior or exterior drain tile, exterior waterproofing membranes and/or interior crack injection or exterior crack repair methods. Conditions affecting the presence of water outside the home should also be checked and any problems remedied, such as leaking gutters, downspouts discharging next to the foundation and problems with grade that allow water to flow toward the house.
A basement dehumidifier, unlike room units, is sized and powered properly to handle the dampness and humidity in a large area like a basement. A typical high-efficiency unit will remove as much as 110 pints of water from a basement each day – that’s more than 13 gallons of water!
A typical basement dehumidifier, which requires no special wiring, can handle a basement of up to 3,000 square feet, powerful enough for even the largest homes. It will maintain the basement humidity at a healthy 50% and ease the strain on air conditioning systems that will no longer have the added load of pulling humidity from the basement. Setting humidity levels is simple with an adjustable humidistat.
A basement dehumidifier will improve the environment and functionality of a basement or crawl space, but only if it’s properly sized and installed to do the job. An accomplished do-it-yourselfer might get it right but a professional installation will work better and save money in the long run.
At U.S. Waterproofing we sell and install only Santa Fe Air System products because we have found them to be the best and most cost-effective. We have a legacy of more than 300,000 satisfied customers in Chicagoland with dry basements and healthy homes, many of whom are enjoying the benefits of a basement dehumidifier. Why not ask for our free advice about your damp, humid basement?
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