Does My Basement Need a Dehumidifier?


Basements and crawlspaces are notorious for being damp. If you think about it, it only makes sense that they’d be wet too. They’re at the lowest part of your house, it’s dark all the time, and a lot of basements don’t have enough ventilation to get that humid air out.

How Do I Check if My Basement or Crawlspace Needs a Dehumidifier?

So, your basement feels damp, the air is thick with humidity, and there’s even a smell in the air. You know that it all spells moisture.

But what’s your course of action?

Before you can be sure that you need a dehumidifier in your basement, you’ll have to look for a few things. Firstly, you have to be sure that this moisture issue isn’t coming from any leaks. If water is pouring into your basement, odds are a dehumidifier won’t be able to help you.

But, if you don’t have any leaks and there’s still a lot of moisture in your basement’s air, then you’re probably in need of a dehumidifier.

But “probably” might not be good enough for some people to act on. So how do we get more sure?

My Basement Need a Dehumidifier

To be certain if you need a dehumidifier or not, you will have to purchase a humidity meter. These little devices will tell you exactly what the humidity is in the surrounding area. The ThermoPro even tells you the temperature!

In addition to telling you the temperature, this super affordable humidity sensor has a cute little face that will smile when the humidity is in a healthy humidity range. If it stops smiling, then you have a humidity issue! You can order this helpful sensor here.

But, if smiley faces aren’t technical enough for you, here are the numbers that you should look for in your home’s humidity. The EPA recommends that your home’s humidity should be between 35 and 50 percent.

What is a Healthy Humidity for My Home?

Dry air isn’t great and super wet air isn’t healthy. But what’s healthy and what are the effects of an unhealthy humidity?

As we previously said, the EPA recommends that your home’s humidity should stay between 35 and 50 percent. But what happens if your humidity is above or below that? Today I’ll be exploring those scenarios.

What Happens if My Home’s Air is Too Dry?

Air that’s drier than 35 percent humidity can cause a slew of issues for your quality of life. For starters, dry air can chap your lips, cause bloody noses, cause flu-like symptoms, and give you a sore throat. It can even make your skin and eyes itchy and cause allergy and asthma flare ups!

If your home’s air is really dry, it can even cause the wood in your home to splinter!

What Happens if My Home’s Air is Too Wet?

Similar to dry air, wet (or humid) air can also cause asthma and allergy flare ups. Because bacteria and viruses need moisture to survive and thrive, high humidity can be extra dangerous. High humidity can increase your risk of respiratory infections. High humidity even attracts bugs and encourages them to take over!

For your home, high humidity brings a risk for mold, mildew, and rot as well. Humidities over 80 percent provide optimal conditions for mold and mildew to take hold in your basement and possibly cause structural damage to your home. (That’s the extra-expensive stuff to fix.)

What Happens if I have a Healthy Humidity in My Home?

Best case scenario, you’ll have less asthma and allergy flare ups, less bugs, and less mold. With a healthy level of humidity, everything works better. Long story short, a healthy humidity in your home helps you live a healthier life!

If you’re really interested in having the best possible humidity level in your home, shoot for between 40 and 50 percent. While the EPA recommends humidity as low as 35, people generally find humidity levels between 40 and 50 to be the best for them.

If you’d like to read up some more on the right humidity for you home, then you can check out our post that looks deeper into the issue here.

I Need a Dehumidifier for My Basement, Now What?

If you’ve made it this far, then odds are that we’ve established that you need a dehumidifier for your crawlspace or basement. For one reason or another, you’ve got more humidity down there than you ought to. You’re ready to take the leap and buy a dehumidifier to extend the life of your home and help your own health.

What steps should you take before you buy a dehumidifier though?

First off, measure out how big your basement is. How many square feet is it? If you have no idea, then you should go outside of your house and measure your home’s footprint, that’ll give you an idea on how big your basement or crawlspace is.

Once you’ve got an idea on how many square feet your basement is, now’s the time to figure out what machine you need. To make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of dehumidifiers for a range of basement sizes. These sizes range from tiny (maybe for a tiny home) to large. You can skip to the size you need and check out the machine we recommend.

Dehumidifier for Tiny Basements | 100-300 Square Foot Crawlspaces

Honati Home Dehumidifier

This is our recommendation for basements that are on the tiny end of things. This particular air purifier is rated for spaces up to 269 square feet.

It’s super quiet and has an auto shut-off, so it won’t overflow on you. It has a 2 liter basin, which is actually a pretty good size for a unit rated for areas this small.

You will have to check it every other day when you first get it to see how much water it collects in your basement or crawlspace. Once you’ve seen about how much it fills up every day you will be able to decide just how often you will need to check on it and empty it. This emptying schedule varies between everyone’s home and even between seasons, so keep that in mind.

Dehumidifiers for Small Basements | 300-500 Square Foot Crawlspaces

AIRPLUS 30 Pints Dehumidifier

This air dehumidifier will likely suit a lot of people as it is rated for areas as large as 500 square feet.

While this is still potentially a lot smaller than some peoples’ basements, this dehumidifier could work great in other rooms including your garage.

This dehumidifier has several different settings that you can choose between when operating it, so you’ll be able to choose what best suits you and your house’s needs.

This dehumidifier has a 1.5 liter tank, which isn’t huge, but it also has a drainage hose, which means you won’t have to empty it all the time, if you opt to use the hose. However, if you decide to depend on just the tank, it has an auto shut-off, so it won’t overflow.

We might add that this unit comes with a great 2 year warranty, which is great. You can purchase extended warranties for 3 or 4 years, if you so choose.

Dehumidifiers for Mid-Sized Basements | 500-1500 Square Foot Crawlspaces

hOmeLabs 1,500 Sq. Ft Energy Star Dehumidifier

Yes, we know that 500-1500 square feet is a very large jump, but it does cover a good amount of basements that you’ll see in suburbia. If you’ve got a basement that’s on the low end of this range, you might feel obliged to get a smaller machine, and we’re not stopping you. That being said, it could be wise you get a dehumidifier that’s rated for an area larger than what you need it for simply because it won’t have to work as hard to keep everything dry. Whatever you end up doing, we’re sure you’ve got enough info to make an informed decision now.

With all that said, here are the details for this dehumidifier. For starters, this unit is rated for areas between 1000 and 1500 square feet. That’ll cover a good amount of houses and manufactured homes. (But there’s no harm in putting it in a basement smaller than 1000 square feet either.)

This unit is quiet, easy to use, and super effective. It can remove up to 22 pints of water per day!

This machine has a tank that has an automatic shut-off and allows you to attach a hose as well, if you’re not interested in emptying it every so often.

We might add that this unit can come in larger sizes, so it might be worth checking out if you have a basement, room, or crawlspace that’s larger than 1500 square feet.

Dehumidifiers for Large Basements | 1500-4500 Square Foot Crawlspace

Vremi 50 Pint 4,500 Sq. Ft. Dehumidifier

If you’ve got a large home with a large footprint, then this might just be the dehumidifier for you.

This dehumidifier is rated for areas up to 4500 square feet, so it’ll take care of a wide array of basements for large homes.

As with the other dehumidifiers that are designed for larger areas, this unit gives you the option of attaching a hose (which is not included). If you don’t want to use a hose, then it has a 1.8 gallon tank that you will need to empty from time to time. It has an auto shut-off, so it won’t make a mess if you forget to empty it on time.

This dehumidifier has a 1 year warranty and you can purchase a 3 or 4 year warranty as well.

Dehumidifiers for Extra-Large Basements and Crawlspaces

While there are some dehumidifiers for basements that are 6000 square feet, there aren’t many for areas much larger than that. If you’ve got a basement that’s too much larger than 6000 square feet, then you’ve got two options that we’d recommend.

You could hire a company to take a look at your basement and set up their own systems. There are lots of companies that specialize in basements nationwide, so you’ll be able to find someone to help you.

Or, if you’re into doing it solo, you might want to pick up a couple of dehumidifiers and put them in your basement. No, we don’t know of any dehumidifiers that are built for ten thousand square foot basements, but perhaps two 6000 square foot units could do the trick for you.

Whatever you end up using if you’re in this boat, we wish you the best of luck!

Parting Thoughts

There’s a whole lot to dehumidifiers and basements, so we can’t address everything in just one post. If you’d like to read up on more basement-related things, then we’ve got an article on radon gas that effects your basement, and another piece on the best dehumidifiers for your basement (although this current post has the top units that we recommended).

If you’d like to get a dehumidifier for your home and not your basement, then we’ve got some really cool news for you: There are dehumidifiers that have built-in air purifiers! Air purifiers are super important for people who want the cleanest possible air that they can breathe in their homes, so combination units like this are great. If you’d like to read our post on the best affordable dehumidifier air purifier combination units, then go ahead!

And finally, if you’re worried about mold in your basement, or anywhere else in your house, we’ve got a post for you as well. Our article, What is the Best Air Purifier for Mold and Fungus? tells you a whole lot of info about the issue. Spoiler alert, though, if you can see the mold in your home, then you’ve already got a really big problem and might need professional help to save your home!

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Basement and Crawlspace Dehumidifiers

Can I Get a Dehumidifier that is Rated for Smaller Basements than Where I’m Putting it?

Sure, it’s your machine, you can do whatever you want with it. You probably won’t see as dry of air as you would if you purchased the proper machine, but something beats nothing. My basement need a dehumidifier. There’s a chance that even an ill-fitting dehumidifier could drop your basement’s humidity to the “safe-zone”.

Will a Dehumidifier Take Care of a Mold Problem?

No. While a dehumidifier may be able to slow the spread of established mold colonies, it cannot kill the mold outright. If mold has taken hold in your home, you will need to have it dealt with professionally.

What’s the Difference Between a Humidifier and a Dehumidifier?

Dehumidifiers pull moisture out of the air and humidifiers add it. Humidifiers will add humidity and make your home’s air wetter and a dehumidifier will remove humidity to make your air drier. These machines are complete opposites.

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Jonathon Silva

Jonathan Silva is our longtime Air Purifier Essentials author. He has been writing on air purification technologies for his entire professional career.

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