Basement Mistakes pt 2 – Not having a dehumidifier and/or not emptying it regularly.

how a basement dehumidifier works
Home depot and other improvement stores carry droves of dehumidifiers that thousands of consumers by a year. Some homeowners even have two or three of the same kind, cracking’ away in the basement, attempting to level out the humidity. Typically, someone who’s looking for something better will call Pioneer Basement and say something like “I have a dehumidifier but it doesn’t seem to be doing what I need.” – here in lies the issue.

The “Not emptying it Regularly” part of the mistake.
A little background: The consumer grade dehumidifiers are designed to be cheaply built and mass-produced to get as many units out to the public as possible. This mass production created a design flaw for the sake of creating a compact unit.

Every dehumidifier has both a heating element and a cooling element as part of its’ process. Damp air is drawn into the unit and the moisture is separated from the air by rapidly cooling it. The water then forms on the condenser coils and the air is filtered out through the dehumidifier as dry. However, to collect the now semi-frozen water off the coils, the dehumidifier now needs to warm it up so that the moisture drips into the collection pan (oh, the famous and hated collection pan).

This is all well and good, however, the close proximity of the heating element to the collection pan then mutates this dehumidifier into a Humidifier…in a sense turning the unit on it’s own purpose for existing! The dehumidifier now adds humidity and then has to work AGAIN to pull that moisture out of the air and into the pan.

Here in lies the problem of “Not Emptying it enough” – By allowing the water to sit in the collection pan for long amounts of time you give the unit more time to heat that pan and place more humidity back into the basement. A good solution for this is to by-pass the collection bin and force the water drain out of the unit and into a sink, outside, or into a sump location.

The mistake of “not having a dehumidifier” in the first place.
Most basements have natural levels of 45-66% relative humidity year round. Mold and mildew only need levels of 50% or higher to grow and become an issue. Venting might be a temporary fix to add new air to the basement, but it can’t be done year round because of letting in moisture from out side, allowing critters to get in, rain to flow through, or having the basement get too cold in the summer.

The dehumidifier is designed to remove the dampness of the humidity in the basement and pump out dry warm air in the process. This not only helps circulation of the air in the basement but it contributes to healthier basement air quality.

By not having a dehumidifier you allow humidity levels to go unchecked. Thus, allowing your chances for mold, mildew, moisture damage, and smells to increase. Too much humidity in the basement can also cause damage to your insulation, make wood floors buckle, or potentially cause mold to start on the first floor of the house (yes, the basement affects the rest of the home too!)

A dehumidifier is a good first step in controlling moisture in the basement, which is why it’s part of the Top 6 Most Common Basement Mistakes that homeowners and builders make.

If you’re looking to purchase a dehumidifier, take a minute to read my tips on Buying the Right Dehumidifier for your Home.

Image thanks to http://www.remodelguide.com/