Dehumidify. De-hume-what-if-fy? That’s about how I felt when I was first introduced to the idea of dehumidifying a basement. It was my first year of living in New York as a nanny. My boss told me that one of my jobs during the summertime would be to empty the dehumidifier in the basement. She said this in her funny New Yawk accent and I couldn’t decide which was scarier to me—dehumidifying the basement or driving on the roads of Westchester County to do her errands.

If you don’t live in a humid climate, then chances are you probably don’t use a dehumidifier and the benefits of having one in the basement may not occur to you. But if you do live in a humid climate, then you know just how awfully miserable your house gets in the summer without one. Have you ever stepped out of the shower and couldn’t dry off? Yeah, the water in the air is like that. Everywhere. On your walls. On your bedding. On your towels…everywhere. And in all actuality, you don’t even need to live in a humid climate to benefit from the money-saving aspects of dehumidifying. Pull up a chair. I’ll explain.

What’s a dehumidifier?

Remember that scene in the very first Star Wars movie in which you learned that the people living on the desert planet, Tatooine, had to pull water vapor out of the air? Not such an easy way to find drinking water, but effective. This is kind of the concept behind the dehumidifier. Basically, it’s a machine that has a bucket that sits on a lever. The machine has the ability to draw moisture from the air. When the bucket gets full of water, it pushes on the lever and stops the machine. You avoid an overflow of water, and your air has less moisture in it.

How does a dehumidifier work?

As air cools, it doesn’t have the same ability to hold moisture as it once did. Think of the condensation that happens on a can of soda. Basically, there’s a fan in the dehumidifier that pulls the air over the cooled coils. Condensation forms from the moisture in the air. Eventually, the water droplets that are on the coils must drop somewhere. That’s called the reservoir or the little bucket on the lever that I was talking about earlier. Finally, the air gets reheated and pushed back out into the room.

Why get a dehumidifier? 

Here’s the real skinny on how the Star Wars bucket-thingy saves you money. Your basement is going to collect moisture—and not in a cool bucket—if you don’t have a dehumidifier. Instead, it’s going to cause sweating on the walls, moisture in the carpets and bedding, and anywhere else it can find a home. The moisture comes from air, but it also comes from activities like cooking, showering, bathing and even breathing. The problem is worse if the windows are closed, which is a real possibility in the basement. Clearly, you’re not going to stop any of those activities—particularly the last one, so you’d better have something to counteract the moisture that will collect as a result of them.

Eventually, you’ll have problems like black mold growing in the drywall, in the carpets and elsewhere. This isn’t only an extreme health hazard, it also breaks down the walls. Ditto for the carpet. You’re going to save money on home repairs—not to mention, medical bills.

Other benefits to having a dehumidifier in your basement

Finally, dehumidifying your basement has an extra, added benefit that the good folks on Tatooine would love. Pulling the moisture from the air helps you feel more comfortable in the heat. Many people find they don’t need to run the air conditioner as much if they have a dehumidifier in the basement. Not running the air conditioner equals saving money.

You should get a dehumidifier if:

  • You live in a place that’s humid.
  • You have allergies.
  • You have a basement.
  • You have any kind of extra moisture.

This is a guest article by Buffy from Boise, ID.


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