Many basements are damp after all the moisture we have had the last few weeks. Reducing the moisture level in the damp areas is very important. Depending on where you live, summers bring high humidity and extra rain does not help for those trying to keep living areas dry. One method to use is a dehumidifier.
It is recommended to keep the humidity level between 30 and 50 percent in the summer and 30 to 40 percent in the winter.
There are two forms of humidity: absolute humidity and relative humidity. Absolute humidity refers to the mass of water vapor divided by the mass of dry air in a volume of air at a given temperature. As such, the hotter the air, the more water it contains.
Some facts to consider when purchasing a dehumidifier:
- The area to be dehumidified. Dehumidifiers are rated according to the pint removal per 24 hours.
- Water removal method.
- Energy usage.
Features to look for when purchasing a dehumidifier are:
- Mobility of unit – casters or wheels. Will you be using the unit in more than one area or moving it.
- An adjustable humidistat.
- An automatic shut off to keep tank from overflowing is usually standard.
- Tank emptying capabilities – both a tank and floor drain option are best.
- Signal light to show when tank is full.
- Length of power cord – 6-foot cord.
- Cleaning capacity.
Select an Energy Star unit as they remove a lot of water using less energy.
The tank (water bucket) should be cleaned monthly to keep mold and bacteria from growing. Tanks without a drain hose should be emptied every couple days. In addition to the tank, the whole unit should be cleaned yearly − the front grille should be vacuumed, the coils wiped off and the air filters washed.
If your basement is damp a dehumidifier may not be the only way to dry it out. For some homes outside drainage problems need to be addressed. Landscaping and gutters may allow rain water to drain toward the foundation. Cracks in the foundation may also let water in the basement. Caulking windows can also help.
Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County
Note: This article also appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper – 2015