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Why You Don’t Want Your Homes Basement Humidity Level Too High



Why You Don't Want Your Homes Basement Humidity Level Too High

A comfortable and healthy basement humidity level generally falls between 30-50% though it can vary depending on climate and whether the area is finished.

If you don’t know what your basement humidity is or why it matters, we’ve compiled this guide for you. There are many potential problems you may face if there’s too much moisture in that part of your home. You may even face some health complications.

Keep reading to find out why basement humidity level matters (and how to adjust it.)

Why Basements Are So Humid

Basements are prone to developing high levels of humidity because they’re underground and most don’t have great ventilation. Water can seep into this part of your home from the soil. Cracks in the foundation can cause even bigger problems, such as structural water damage.

Old and drafty windows in the basement can let humid air from outside into the area. Plus, moisture moves through porous surfaces like walls and floors and often gets trapped.

Homeowners with laundry rooms or bathrooms down there also face increased humidity levels from moisture accumulation.

If you’ve ever been in a basement that smells musty or moldy, it’s usually due to these problems.

Humidity in the Basement Causes Mold Growth

One of the biggest issues of a damp basement is that moisture can cause mildew and mold. High levels of humidity make the perfect breeding ground.

Some people may not be bothered by musty environments, while others will develop symptoms such as itchy eyes or difficulty breathing.

Sensitive individuals, such as those with allergies and asthma, have to be especially careful. They may experience more extreme reactions to mold and mildew.

Other people that might have to watch basement humidity levels more closely include those with suppressed immune systems, anyone susceptible to fungal infections, and those with respiratory or lung diseases.

It’s not safe or healthy to allow your family or guests into a musty basement. It’s also likely they won’t enjoy it! The smell alone is enough to cause people to turn away.

High Humidity Can Cause Structural Issues

High humidity levels can actually cause structural damage as well. For example, moisture rots wood, and it can cause your support beams and floor joists to become weaker.

Water can also cause cracks in your concrete, ruining your foundation wall.

Another problem with excess moisture in the basement is that it might damage your electrical system, HVAC unit, and your water heater.

As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, moisture in the basement can attract insects such as termites, which can cause significant damage.

Musty Basements Mean You Lose Valuable Living Space

When you have a musty basement that no one wants to use, you’re wasting potential living space. Even if you only use the area to store belongings, it’s a large area that has many practical uses.

If you finish the basement, you might use it for entertainment purposes or even as an extra bedroom. If your basement meets certain criteria, you can even increase the official square footage of your house.

However, you can only make use of the space when you keep humidity at a comfortable level.

Water Damage Might Ruin Your Belongings

Not only can water damage cause structural issues, but it can also destroy your personal possessions. For instance, if you store family photographs, paper documents, children’s toys, or even clothing, they can get ruined by being exposed to mold.

If you don’t keep a humid basement in check, you may have to throw away important mementos and parts of your life. If you spend time downstairs and use the area like a rec room, you may have to remove mold from fabric furniture.

Cleanup or remediation is a costly and time-consuming process that you can avoid by preventing a wet basement.

Maintaining Low Humidity Levels

So now you know why you want to avoid it, but how do you keep those humidity levels under control?

Mold is a part of life and exists both inside and outside the home. However, there are steps you can take to decrease moisture, mildew, and mold.

The first step is to assess your current basement and address issues such as leaky pipes and drafty windows. You also want to ensure that the area has adequate ventilation, especially if you have a shower or washing machine and dryer down there.

Exhaust fans and dryer vents leading outside the home help prevent moisture accumulation. It’s also a good idea to invest in a dehumidifier for the space so you can see the humidity level on a screen.

You might also want to consider getting a whole-house dehumidifier that works with your HVAC system.

If you buy a dehumidifier, make sure you get one that’s powerful enough for the size of the basement you have. If your unit is too small, it may have to work overtime or you might need to empty it more frequently.

Consider your climate and the season as well. Areas that are particularly humid or get a lot of rain may require extra preventive measures.

Avoid carpets in the basement since the area has so much moisture. Check your gutters and downspouts to make sure the water isn’t being emptied too close to the foundation. You may also need to seal cracks around the foundation if you spot any.

Keep Your Basement Humidity Level Low

Making sure you keep your basement humidity level between 30-50% is key to creating a dry and comfortable environment. Not only does it help you to prevent mold, but it also creates extra living space and protects your belongings.

Read some of our other posts to find new ways to keep your family and your home safe and healthy.