For years, basement dehumidifiers have been touted as the best way to combat moisture-related issues in crawlspaces and basements. However, many homeowners who invest in dehumidifiers for their homes are disappointed with the results. So why do dehumidifiers fail to deliver the expected results, and what is a better alternative?
Causes and consequences of moisture problems
In order to choose the best solution for musty basement issues, you first need to gain a solid understanding of what causes them, as well as how they impact your home and health.
There are several factors that can contribute to moisture problems in basements. Since basements are typically either partially or completely below ground, moisture in the soil seeps through foundations that are made out of concrete or other porous materials. Additionally, moisture accumulation from everyday activities in the home can form condensation on basement walls and floors. And finally, indoor leaks or outdoor floods can lead to water collection.
When moisture gets on walls and floors or seeps into the foundation, mold and mildew start to form. Unchecked, this can cause considerable structural damage to the home. At the same time, biological growths like mold and mildew release millions of tiny spores into the air. This can cause serious health problems, ranging from respiratory issues and allergies to headaches and even certain immune system diseases.
Fortunately, it’s easy to determine whether your basement has moisture issues: The air will feel clammy, the walls or floor may be damp, and—most noticeable of all—there’s a musty smell. And this is what’s so important for homeowners to understand: Ignoring those signs isn’t going to make them go away. In fact, the longer you wait before addressing the issue, the more damage you risk to your home and your health.
Why basement dehumidifiers often disappoint
For years, contractors have recommended dehumidifiers as the best solution to basement moisture issues. However, there are significant drawbacks to dehumidifiers. They’re noisy and require a lot of maintenance; plus, they’re costly to run and add anywhere between $60 and $90 a month to your energy bill (if you live in a single-family home). But most importantly, they fail to provide one essential factor: ventilation. Without ventilation, the stagnant air—loaded with moisture, mold spores, and harmful gases—remains in the basement. Basically, dehumidifiers remove some of the moisture, but they don’t improve indoor air quality as they circulate the same stagnant air; nor do they remove any moisture from the building structure.
Why a ventilation system is a better solution
In contrast, a ventilation system extracts the moisture laden, contaminated air and replenishes it with clean, dry, and warm air. This air exchange draws moisture out of the structure, which effectively eliminates the conditions in which mold and mildew grow. As a result, the indoor air quality greatly increases, and the structure is no longer at risk.
In addition to providing an effective solution to moisture issues, a ventilation system is quiet, requires no maintenance, and is so energy-efficient that it only costs approximately $3 a month to run. Best of all, your basement no longer has to be a room everyone in the family avoids. In fact, if you invest in turning your basement into a fitness room or even a second family room, you can even add a significant amount to the value of your home!