Summer is upon us, and it’s already a scorcher. With all that heat comes humidity, and your basement is one of the places in your home most affected by all that moisture. You might be sweltering, and your house may feel stuffy, but down in the basement the humidity can be truly damaging. That’s because while the ideal humidity level for a basement is between 30 and 50 percent, the excess moisture coming in from the warm outside air during the summer can raise that number up to as high as 70 percent. At that level of humidity, your basement is at risk of becoming a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Left to its own devices, mold can quickly spread, creating an unhealthy environment for your family, damaging the structure of your home, and even create a welcoming environment for termites and other pests. So, what can you do to fight humidity in your basement?
The first step is to assess what’s going on. When you enter the basement, you can probably feel the humidity. Certainly, you’ll notice condensation on surfaces if the basement air has too much moisture. If the humidity is extreme, you may even notice mold growth or rot. To determine the precise humidity level in your basement, though, you’ll need to pick up a humidity reader, also called a hygrometer, from the home improvement store. Hygrometers have been around for centuries, and they come in many different models, from handheld to a smart hygrometer that tracks the humidity levels year-round. A healthy basement humidity level varies depending on the age of the building, the type of basement insulation, and where you live. In Maryland, between 40 and 60 percent is to be expected. Anything above that level puts your basement at risk. Because changes in the weather affect the humidity, it’s wise to check the basement more than once a season.
If your humidity is high, you can take steps to control it. Sometimes humidity is caused by the humid air coming in from the outside, but there are other sources of moisture that may be impacting your basement as well. For instance, if the soil is oversaturated or there is water underneath the foundation, the water can seep through the concrete walls of the basement. If you’ve got a dryer or other appliance venting inside the basement, that can contribute to the humidity level as well. Determining the cause of the humidity can help you find the solution. Try these solutions for combating your basement’s humidity:
- Put in a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier in the dampest part of your basement can be helpful, but if your basement is large, you may need more than one. Start with one dehumidifier and keep track of the humidity levels, adding other dehumidifiers as needed. Humidifiers work by drawing in the air and running it over cooled coils. The moisture is removed and deposited into an attached tank or down the drain. If your dehumidifier uses a tank, make sure to empty the reservoir regularly. Try to get your basement’s humidity levels down to 50 percent or lower.
- Bolster your insulation. A poorly insulated basement will likely be humid because it allows the warm air to enter the home. Insulating against outdoor air and water vapor can go a long way toward decreasing humidity. It’s also smart to insulate your pipes to prevent them from sweating in the summer or freezing in the winter.
- Get the air moving. You can connect your basement to your central HVAC or set up a separate mini-split air conditioning unit for the basement. You can also install basement fans, which push moist air out of the basement and into the outside air.
- Keep the doors and windows closed. Open basement doors and windows can let additional moist air in on a hot, humid day. Since this is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve, it’s better to keep the basement closed during the summer.
- Look for leaky pipes and cracks in your foundation. Leaks in your basement can add to moisture in the air, and cracks in your foundation can allow water to seep in. Repair pipes as soon as you’re aware of a leak, and call in a basement waterproofing professional to fix any cracks in your foundation before they become a more extensive problem.
When you need basement or air quality services, Budget Waterproofing can help. In addition to waterproofing, mold remediation, mold cleaning, and crawl space encapsulation, we provide foundation repair, going beyond patching cracks to find the source of the problem. We also offer installation of the EZ Breathe home ventilation system, to clean the air inside your home. At Budget Waterproofing, we have more than 55 years of experience servicing both commercial and residential customers throughout Maryland. We’re proud of our craftsmanship and confident in our skills, and all of our technicians are fully licensed and insured. For more information, contact us today.