A Basement Dehumidifier Fights Mold and Odors
Having a dehumidifier in your basement is an affordable and easy way to transform a damp, often moldy space into a livable, pleasant place to be. These affordable and effective little appliances work constantly to take moisture out of the air in your home. In a basement, this means that the air is drier, which means that mold is less likely to grow between walls and in hidden places. The drier air is more comfortable, and odors are diminished. A basic, affordable dehumidifier can make a big difference in the appeal and comfort of your basement. In my case, it made the difference between having a dank, smelly basement and a clean, welcoming space.
A Better Basement is Within Reach
I love my basement, but I didn't always. It used to be borderline unliveable, but now I love the fact that I can go down there and hang out and it’s comfortable. It doesn’t smell musty, and there’s no mold growing in the corners. I love my basement, and it’s because of my basement dehumidifier. I really like the way that it runs all the time, a quiet hum in the corner, and constantly takes excess water out of the air. I don't have to worry about it because it drains right into the basement floor drain. Now I have an added space in my house that I can design into any kind of use I choose -- TV room, wet bar, rock band room - and it's clean, clear, and dry.
This little unit cost me less than $100 and has given me the benefit of a space that I can happily retreat to if need be – no small thing in a house with more kids than spare bedrooms! Now if I can only figure out the best spot to hang my hammock I'll be set.
Before My Dehumidifier
Before I got smart and plugged in my dehumidifier, my basement was not the kind of place you would want to hang out. Our house is about 100 years old and the basement is only half finished, with out paneling or drywall over the walls. There were two main problems: the place smelled bad, and the walls were crumbling. The smell was from a flood some years ago that established several mold and mildew colonies in the corners and in hard to reach spots like under the stairs. I tried to get rid of them with bleach, but it just smelled like bleach for a few days, and then the moldy smell came right back. The walls are painted limestone blocks with several layers of plaster between them, and that plaster had gotten moist and crumbly. The stones themselves were also starting to crumble and excrete a kind of fluffy white residue. Overall my basement had potential, but it was going downhill fast. I even re-painted the walls with super-special wall sealant paint, but the moisture just came through like nothing had happened. I was right back where I started.
This is the unit that has worked for me. It's in the mid-range pricewise, but has the features of a more expensive model. I leave mine running 24-7 and run a hose to the floor drain. It makes a slow, steady trickle that I don't even notice. Once in a while it's time to clean the air filter, but otherwise it's maintenance-free.
Basement Mold and Your Health
When the mold wouldn’t go away, I did a little research. It turns out that the vast majority of mold in your basement isn’t the toxic kind that can really hurt you – although that does happen. It’s much more likely that the nasty black mold growing in the hidden spots in your basement belongs to the Aspergillus genus, and is probably either A. fumigatus or A. flavus (for the record, the kind of mold that kills you is Stachybotrys chartarum).
According to Cristina Schulingkamp, director of the indoor air quality program at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Philadelphia office, “Even with [a little] water, there’s enough humidity inside that mold spores can attach to surfaces and begin to grow. Drywall, carpeting, almost anything indoors can have mold growing on it.” Those black molds can trigger allergies by releasing millions of tiny spores into the air, which can trigger asthma and other lung issues.These little spores are so small that they're basicallyinvisible, and they float on air currents throughout your house. They the seeds of new mold colonies, so if they can find a nice damp corner, they'll sprout another nasty black patch of mold and the process will start all over again. Once you have mold colonies sending microscopic spores throughout your house, you've got trouble. A dehumidifier makes your basement a lot less hospitable to those nasty, damp-loving mold colonies.
After My Basement Dehumidifier
Once I had my dehumidifier up and running, it was only a week or two before I could tell it was really making a difference. My Man Cave was now a place you actually wanted to be. I started setting up a modest entertainment area, with a new flat screen and some comfy chairs, and soon I had few regular visitors – my teenage sons. If you build it, they will come, I figured, and with a little negotiating I arranged to have a place of my own that I could share with the more lounge-oriented members of my family. The dehumidifier humming in the background, the basement was now a place that people actually wanted to be.
Care and Upkeep
My dehumidifier is easy to take care of. I have it set to run constantly, with a short hose that runs right into the floor drain. The water from the air goes through the unit and straight into the drain, and aside from an occasional air filter cleaning (wash it in the sink, easy), I really don’t have to mess with it at all. This is a cool little appliance that has made a big difference in the space, comfort, and safety of my home.
Dianna Mendez on January 07, 2017:
When we lived up north, a dehumidifier was a must for our basement. It does make a room comfortable and eliminates the dampness. You did a remarkable job with your basement!