Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team
When summer arrives, are you surprised by how quickly a little increase in humidity can make you uncomfortable? That extra moisture in the air makes you sweat more, and your home suffers in several important ways, too. Mold and mildew can build up in dark, damp corners of your house, especially downstairs. And that’s one of the main reasons why it’s so important to get rid of humidity in your basement.
Your tools, photos, jewelry, electronics and documents all stand to be impacted by excessive moisture in the house. By reducing humidity, you can help prevent these important items — and your appliances — from experiencing water damage and corrosion-related problems.
We’ll explore how to dehumidify your home and look at other ways to naturally keep moisture-prone areas humidity-free. Take a look at our tips on keeping your home dryer during the damp months and reducing humidity in the house.
Plenty of things can cause humidity and make your house wetter throughout the year. Here are some common causes for moisture buildup in your house:
Health-related issues are common among homes where humidity levels are consistently high. Ideally, relative humidity levels should be around 30 to 60 percent. When you’re in climates that push above 80 percent humidity, your home can begin to harbor fungi, bacteria, viruses and mold that cause respiratory and health concerns. And if windows are left open when it’s hot and humid, people with respiratory issues may feel uncomfortable.
Even if dampness in your house is limited to your basement, you’re still better off getting that moisture out of your home. HVAC systems that circulate air across the house often take in air from the basement. That can distribute mold and fungal spores that collect in the basement throughout your home.
There are pros and cons to having humidity in the house. During the winter months when homes tend to be excessively dry, a little humidity can really help you to feel comfortable in your home.
Health-related issues are common among homes where humidity levels are consistently high. Ideally, relative humidity levels should be around 30 – 60 percent. When you’re in climates that push above 80 percent humidity, your home can begin to harbor fungi, bacteria, viruses and mold that cause respiratory and health concerns. And if windows are left open when it’s hot and humid, people with respiratory issues may feel uncomfortable.
Even if dampness in your house is limited to your basement, you’re still better off getting that moisture out of your home. HVAC systems that circulate air across the house often intake air from the basement. That can distribute mold and fungal spores that collect in the basement throughout your home.
Selecting the right dehumidifier is based on a few key details about your home and the way you want your dehumidifier to perform. Start by getting the square footage of the space or room you want to dehumidify. Then, look for a dehumidifier which is rated for that square footage plus the relative humidity found in your house. There are three basic types of humidifiers to choose between for removing moisture from your home:
These work by condensing moisture in the air into water with cold evaporator coils that collect and store condensed water. Using a compressor, these dehumidifiers tend to be bulkier and heavier than the competition. Additionally, they don’t perform as well at colder temperatures and consume more energy than their counterparts.
Using drying agents like silica gel, desiccant dehumidifiers pull moisture out of the air by forcing it through water-absorbing gel packs. These systems are typically less heavy and quieter than the refrigerant types, and one big benefit is that desiccants work equally well in cold temperatures. On the downside, you’ll need to replace the gel packs once they’ve been fully saturated.
Turning on the AC is effectively the same as running a refrigerant dehumidifier. If you’ve ever wondered why AC units drip water, it’s because those evaporator coils are doing their job. Adjusting the temperature even a few degrees down and closing your windows can help reduce the humidity in your house.
The main reason you should get a dehumidifier is to reduce the relative humidity in your home. With lower moisture levels, you may find higher temperatures are more tolerable. Here are a few common questions about using dehumidifiers to reduce moisture:
When your house experiences annual extremes in humidity, wood and other materials can become stressed through expansion and contraction over time. That’s why it’s so important not only to dehumidify your basement but the rest of your house, too. Many dehumidifiers on the market today do their job in the same fashion.
Perhaps the noise of a dehumidifier is too much to deal with. Or maybe you’d rather not pay an electric bill to manage your humidity issues. You can easily turn to home remedies for absorbing moisture by making your own dehumidifier.
They may not work as well, but they can get the job done. Dehumidify your house naturally with these DIY tips for handmade, moisture-absorbing answers to dampness in your home:
If solving your moisture problem is something you’d like to do inexpensively, rock salt may be your answer. Because rock salt is hygroscopic it absorbs moisture from the air. If your plan is to get rid of the humidity in a damp basement, start with a 50-pound bag of sodium chloride to make your rock salt dehumidifier. These can be found at most big box hardware stores. While you’re there, you’ll also need two 5-gallon buckets. Here’s what you’ll need to do next:
Our next natural dehumidifier DIY-hack is to use baking soda. Remove dampness by filling a small bowl with baking soda and placing it in the room you’d like to dehumidify.
Although it’s not as effective as rock salt in combating humidity, it’s good for enclosed spaces where moisture is an issue. Pick up a large, 13.5-pound bag online or at the hardware store, and you’ll have enough to last a while. You’ll need to occasionally stir the baking soda and eventually replace it to continue reducing moisture in your home.
There are many DIY options available to make your own dehumidifier including:
Homemade charcoal-based dehumidifiers. You can use the same nested 5-gallon bucket setup as provided above with charcoal instead of salt.
Furnace fan. Another simple way to dehumidify your basement naturally is by simply turning on the furnace fan. Circulating the dryer upstairs air into the basement’s damp air helps to regulate humidity.
Non-toxic silica gel. You can also dehumidify your basement house without a dehumidifier by using over-the-counter products like non-toxic silica gel, which is highly water-soluble. Passive hydrosorbent packs are available online in various sizes.
Whether you reduce high humidity in the house with a dehumidifier or by natural means, there are real benefits that come with keeping a dry home. Allergies can be reduced when you take mold, mildew and bacteria out of the equation.
Keeping your home safe and healthy is what we’re all about. And when it comes to preventing water damage, your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) can help you find peace of mind by building a custom policy for your home.