Too much moisture in your home and you may soon find mildew or mold growing in the basement, inside of closets and even in living areas. Not only are molds unsightly, but these fungi can damage your home and wreck your health. Fortunately, a dehumidifier can help remove excess moisture and make your home habitable again. Dehumidifiers are not always beneficial or necessary, therefore you may need to rule out some other problems first.
A dehumidifier works similarly to an air-conditioner as it removes moisture from the air. If you have a central heat and air-conditioning system, a dehumidifier may not be necessary in your main living areas. However, your basement may benefit as a dehumidifier can remove musty smells and moisture. Dehumidifiers work most effectively at temperatures of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit reports the Michigan State University Extension service. Some units will work at lower temperatures, however, expect to pay a price premium to obtain one of these.
Moisture in the air can point to other problems within the home. Although a common problem in basements, too much moisture present can signal other problems are at work including a foundational issue. Some homes may benefit from the installation of French drains, providing a way for rainwater and snow melt to be redirected away from the house.
Moisture can enter your home if walls are not properly sealed. The main point of entry is windows and doors, with old windows being the most likely problem. Evidence of moisture problems are windows that hold moisture on the inside, a problem that is evident by noticing streaking or ice build up in the winter months. Caulk and reseal your windows or, if the windows are beyond repair, invest in new, energy efficient windows instead of a dehumidifier.
You may pay up to $200 for a basic dehumidifier, designed with a 45-pint capacity. In moist basements, expect to empty the pan twice daily. You can run your unit around the clock during the summer months, but turn it off when air temperatures consistently drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. When operating at lower temperatures, frost can accumulate on the coils and damage them. Follow manufacturer care instructions — keep your dehumidifier at least six feet from the wall and use an indoor/outdoor extension cord to prevent shock.
Large basements may require a second unit or a larger dehumidifier if moisture remains a problem. Store your dehumidifier for the winter and begin using again the following spring as warranted.