Best Basement & Crawl Space Dehumidifiers

Hot weather gets worse when the humidity goes up, and vice versa. You feel hotter, and your skin gets clammy. The air feels heavy and muggy. Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor in gas. To put it simply, it’s the moisture in the air. As an area gets more and more humid, many other factors get affected within that area.

Places closed off or have a water source often do not get enough sun. They do not have proper ventilation and are the places that become too humid. Although any house can get humidity problems, basements and crawl spaces require extra attention.

Here’s a list of the best basement & crawl space dehumidifiers.

HOW CAN HUMIDITY BECOME A PROBLEM?

Why is moisture control so important? High humidity makes an area feel clammy and hot; it can also negatively affect the house’s structural integrity. Suppose your basement or crawl space has been kept wet for too long. The carpet and wood may get rusted and deteriorate. The growth of mold and mildew spurs it on.

You must understand that fungi exist in the air. Their spores float around and are relatively harmless in small quantities. These spores are not given a chance to grow and thrive. Unfortunately, mold and mildew love damp and humid areas. Once they’ve found a favorable environment for them, their growth comes as easy as ABC.

mold

The alarming thing is that fungi cause an inconvenience in terms of rotting wood and carpet. These microorganisms can also cause a musty odor and worsen your health, especially with allergies.

They have pollen that can act as allergens. Exposure or inhalation of pollen can lead to asthma. It can also cause eye and skin irritation. Allergic rhinitis and wheezing are issues, too. Other upper respiratory tract infections may also come your way.

Worst case scenario, people may have had prolonged exposure to indoor mold. They’ve been inhaling toxic or non-toxic pollens. You can develop chronic lung diseases due to mold infection within the lungs. Another worrying set of microorganisms that thrives in high humidity is dust mites. It can infest beddings and floorings. These can also cause skin irritation and trigger allergic reactions.

To avoid such troubles, you must maintain a good humidity level in your home. If you’re thinking of putting it up for a resale, you want to allure potential buyers. It means pristine walls and perfectly- carpeted floors. It’s just like how showers and bathtubs amp up the resale value. Besides, early resolution of moisture problems is a lot cheaper than reupholstering your basement. Changing your whole carpeting may become necessary.

If you need to remodel your basement or crawl space, make sure to resolve all the roots of your moisture problems. Remodeling a basement can get tricky, sometimes even more troublesome than converting a half-bath into a full bath. A lot of factors get involved!

WHAT IS THE IDEAL INDOOR LEVEL?

For your home to be safe and retain its structural integrity, indoor humidity must be kept at a normal level. According to the National Asthma Council Australia, the recommended indoor level good for your house is between 30 and 50%.

A low level leads to dry air, drys our skin and irritates our nasal passages. It can cause floors to crack. On the other hand, high humidity levels support the growth of mold or dust mites. It can trigger deterioration or rot of wood or carpet.

There are various ways to ensure that the humidity in your home stays within the optimum range. Ensure that there are no leaks in and around your house. Make use of exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms, and use moisture control appliances like humidifiers and dehumidifiers.

WHAT KIND DO I NEED FOR MY BASEMENT?

To know what kind one needs, you must first understand how they work. The air can only hold a certain amount of water vapor at a certain temperature. As the temperature increases, the amount of moisture the air can hold also rises. At 20°C, 1 m3 of air can hold around 6 ounces of water. With this amount of moisture in that certain amount of air, the relative humidity is at 100%. The air is fully saturated. It is called the state of saturation.

If you recall, I mentioned previously that a relative level of 30-50% indoors is what’s good for both your home and your body. This is where the best crawl space dehumidifiers come in! A good one takes in air from its surroundings and removes excess moisture or water. It blows out dehumidified air into the room, lowering it to a certain level that is more suitable indoors.

There are two types for your crawl space or basement. They are refrigerant and desiccant dehumidifiers. These two operate differently. To gauge which one is perfect for your basement, we’ll have to discuss how they work briefly.

basement with humidity issues

How does a refrigerant model work?

A refrigerant model is also known as a compressor dehumidifier. It works by taking in damp air through a filter and passing it over a set of cold coils called the evaporator to dry the air. As the name implies, this product makes use of refrigerants. It is a fluid stored inside the coils that can absorb heat from the air ann transition from gas to liquid.

In a nutshell, this process lowers humidity by cooling down damp air to the point that the moisture begins to condense. It turns gaseous matter into liquid. The water formed through this process is collected in a catch basin or water tank in the unit. The resulting dried air is passed over warm coils called the condenser. It reheats the air to room temperature before releasing it into the room through the fan.

This whole process relies on the evaporator’s coils being cooler than the air outside. This type is sensitive to cold seasons. Refrigerant ones can operate well in areas with a temperature range of 5-30°C, though they work best at 20-30°C. Suppose the area is not well-heated during cold seasons. The refrigerant inside the coils may freeze over. It won’t work efficiently until the system defrosts properly.

The advantage of this one’s use of cold coils is that it is relatively cheaper and consumes less energy than a desiccant one. Those use heat.

How does a desiccant model work?

On the other hand, a desiccant model uses a desiccant instead of refrigerants stored in coils. What sets this type from compressor ones is that it does not heavily rely on the temperature of the surroundings. A desiccant one can work just as well as it does during the summer.

This can work optimally in both hot and cold areas due to the presence of the desiccant. It is a hygroscopic substance that absorbs moisture from the air. The desiccant itself takes out the moisture from the air. This substance is widely used to remove humidity from areas that must not be exposed to too much moisture. Think silica gel packs in bags of crispy snacks.

A desiccant model works by taking in damp air through a filter and passing it through a rotor or rotating wheel that holds the desiccant. The excess moisture gets extracted from the air absorbed by the desiccant. Heat is applied to extract the moisture from the desiccant. Some models have catch basins or water tanks to collect this moisture, like refrigerant ones. At the same time, some units are equipped with drainage systems.

The downside of this heating feature is that it consumes more energy and might add heat to the room. Unlike refrigerant ones, desiccant models can remove the same amount of moisture from the air irrespective of the temperature. Desiccants have a long lifespan, as these materials do not expire and do not require replacement.

These two features add to the durability and effectiveness of the unit. Some refrigerant ones might need maintenance or replacement of components. It’s the case if the refrigerant gets frozen multiple times and the compressor unit becomes faulty. This adds to the durability and effectiveness of desiccant models.

To sum it all up, here’s my recommended one based on your home’s conditions:

  • A refrigerant one is a great choice if you:
    • want less energy consumption.
    • Want a relatively cheap option.
    • Have a heated basement or a great overall heating system.
    • Live in a relatively warm area or tropical area.
  • A desiccant one is a great choice if you:
    • want stable and efficient performance regardless of external temperature.
    • Want a long-lasting, sturdy machine.
    • Have an unheated basement or overall poor heating system.
    • Live in areas that suffer harsh winters.

WHAT SIZE DEHUMIDIFIER DO YOU NEED FOR YOUR BASEMENT OR CRAWL SPACE?

Not all models can lower the relative humidity in huge percentages. They have their capacities and limits, too. In that way, they’re just like air conditioners. Like how it’s important to choose the right wire size when you’re shopping for an extension cord, it’s important to check the unit’s size and capacity. Regardless of its type, you’ll want the right capacity. It is usually measured in liters or pints.

22 pint dehumidifier

Most models come in three basic sizes/capacities: a small-capacity 30-pint, a medium-capacity 50-pint, and a large-capacity 70-pint. These capacities denote the maximum amount of water that it can remove from the air in a day. One pint equates to almost half of a liter or ⅛ of a gallon.

The main determinants of choosing the right size are relative humidity (RH) and room size. You’d need one with medium to large capacity if you have a large basement with a high RH. That way, the machine can accommodate the amount of moisture in the air.

The bigger the room, the higher the capacity is needed. Larger rooms would contain more air that would need dehumidifying. If you have a small crawl space with relatively low humidity, a small one will suffice. With the use of this chart made by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, you can determine the proper capacity for your home. It all depends on these two factors:

You can use a hygrometer to measure the actual relative humidity in your basement for a more reliable measurement. I recommend this, especially if you cannot properly observe the basement or crawl space for signs of moisture problems. Once you have a certain RH measurement, you can associate this with the signs of dampness mentioned in the table above.

Here are the corresponding levels of relative humidity based on the new testing standards for modern units by the Department of Energy:

Moderately DampVery DampWetExtremely Wet
50-60% RH60-70% RH70-80% RH80-100% RH
wet basement

WILL IT DRY OUT MY BASEMENT?

If we’re talking about damp walls and carpets due to condensation brought upon by excessive humidity, a powerful model can help. It should have a large capacity that can help you solve that problem. However, this is only true if the root of the problem has been resolved.

If you have extensive water damage or a continuous leak, this excessive humidity could come back once the leak occurs again. But otherwise, it can help keep your walls and carpeting dry and safe from mold.

Some people become reluctant to buy these products because they’re afraid they would work too well and dry out the area too much. That’s not the case at all! As long as you know the right settings, your basement is safe from being too dry or too damp with the help of these machines.

If you’re still having some doubts, you can look for one that has a built-in humidistat. It allows you to set a certain RH level. This way, you can always be sure that the RH in your basement stays at a normal range.

SETTINGS TO AIM FOR

Dehumidifiers have built-in humidistats that allow users to set the resulting RH to the level they want the room’s air to be in. Since the ideal level indoors is between 30-50%, most units can be set into the following fixed RH levels:

  • 30%
  • 40%
  • and 50%.

Other ones have more flexible settings. You can set the RH to a more specific level or beyond 30% or 50%.

GE dehumidifier

Some people find the recommended RH range of 30-50% confusing, unsure which RH level is the best for a certain part of the house.

Many HVAC engineers and technicians claim that the perfect RH level is 40% for basements. Some people would argue that 50% is better because the air is more comfortable to breathe in. Some cases show that mold growth is more likely to happen when the weather gets hotter. Basements can get humid in the summer. Thus, a 40% setting is much better during this time to counter the possibility of mold growth. For tropical areas that get extremely damp during rainy and hot seasons, you might want to lower it to 30%.

BEST DEHUMIDIFIER FOR BASEMENT:

Just like how garden tractors and air conditioners come in different types, there are also different types on the market. They have different drainage systems and air discharge placements. Some come with smart features and many more things.

After our long search, we’ve determined that hOmeLabs HME020031N is one of the top models that you can get for your basement. Homelabs is stylized as hOmeLabs. It is a renowned brand famous for its dehumidifiers’ top quality and performance. Here are some of the noteworthy features of HME020031N:

  • Capacity: 70 pints
    • 45 pints if based on DOE 2019 standards
  • Gravity drainage
    • 1.8-gallon water storage with water level indicator
  • Area of coverage: 4,500 sq. ft.
  • Adjustable levels
    • RH level range: 35-85%
    • 5% increments
  • Two different fan speeds and modes
    • normal or turbo
    • continuous or timer mode (24-hr timer)
  • Washable filter
    • with filter state indicator and filter change reminder
  • Automatic shut-off, restart and defrost
  • Built-in humidistat, handles, wheels, and drain hose outlet
  • Energy Star Certified

But if you want to check out other brands, I recommend GE Appliances. This brand also offers some of the best products and other home appliances out there on the market.

OTHER FACTORS TO CONSIDER

To further refine your search for the best basement & crawl space dehumidifier, here are some features to look out for:

Energy Efficiency

Look for one that has an Energy Star rating. This indicates that the unit is energy-efficient, producing quality results while consuming the lowest energy possible.

smart dehumidifier

Draining Method

The common drainage systems they have are manual drain and gravity drain. Condensate pumps are also a possibility. Pick the one that you find to be the most convenient.

Manual drainage system

PROS: There’s no need for the installation of a drain hose.

CONS: Periodic manual removal of water is necessary.

Gravity drainage system

PROS: There’s no need for periodic manual removal of water.

CONS: It must be placed at an elevated area relative to the drainage hose.

Condensate pump

PROS: There’s no need for periodic manual removal of water.

CONS: Setting up a drainage hose is harder.

Noise Level

Look for one with a low-noise operation. Most units are quiet, producing only a humming noise at a low or medium fan speed. So, you have to test it at max speed to see how noisy it can get.

dehumidifier

IF IT’S TOO LATE…

You find out that your basement is in a state that this machine cannot rescue. A small-scale renovation might be your only saving grace. If this is the case, you might want to check out these tools that can make your work so much easier.

Here’s a guide on the best welding glasses and helmets. Maybe you need this guide on SAE to the metric conversion chart. During your renovation project, it can come in handy to ensure that everything is carefully measured and calculated.

fire and water damage
I hope that this article successfully sheds some light on finding the best one for your basement and crawl space! Suppose you’re planning on buying other home appliances. You might want to check out this buying guide for casement air conditioners and home lawn tractors.

FAQ

What size dehumidifier do I need for a 1,200 square feet basement?

For a wet to a slightly damp room of 1200 sq ft, a 30-pint dehumidifier is ideal. It works best in cases where the space feels somewhat wet and smells musty.

Are basement dehumidifiers worth it?

Basements are prone to collecting moisture because of water leakage or the water system setting a foundation there. Therefore, a dehumidifier becomes a necessity as it helps battle excessive moisture from building up. It also dramatically lowers the risk of mold or mildew infestation. Additionally, it rids your basement of the musty smell that comes with moisture buildup.  

Where should a dehumidifier be placed in a basement?

To maintain efficient air circulation, you must place the dehumidifier on the floor. If placed on an elevated surface, you risk the basement heating up instead. It’s crucial that the dehumidifier is placed safely from any wooden furniture or concrete to prevent cracking or damage to property.  

Do dehumidifiers work in bedrooms?

A dehumidifier dramatically improves the quality of a room, which leads to better air quality and a controlled moisture level. Installing it in the bedroom helps improve your health by reducing the risk of getting a cold.

And if you already have a cold, the higher humidity helps alleviate the flu. It’s also a worthy skincare investment as it prevents dry skin, which ultimately prevents cracking and wrinkling. It doesn’t only work wonders for your skin but your hair as well. Due to reduced dryness, your scalp feels healthier and has less dandruff.