The prescribed humidity level in any part of your home (including your basement) is from 30% to 50%, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Anything beyond that can put you and your loved ones at risk.
It is understandable that things can go above board in hotter regions and this climatic factor can cause humidity to rise beyond recommended levels.
It is worse for basements because they are, perhaps, the least ventilated rooms in our homes and they are closest to the soil where the most heat is.
If you find your basement accumulating too much humidity and becoming unbearable for you and your loved ones, there are proven ways to get rid of excess humidity without using a dehumidifier.
How to tell your basement has excess humidity
Unless there has been a recent leak or flood in your basement or close to it, it might be difficult to tell that your basement has excess humidity. So, here are a few ways to know.
- The presence of mold is a good indicator that there’s excess moisture in your basement. Mold cannot grow without high amounts of humidity. When you spot them, you should know.
- Condensation is also likely to occur when humidity is high, especially in a basement that has a bathroom or a cloth dryer. The warm air comes in contact with the cool wall surface of your basement and the moisture sticks to the walls. When you see this, it is a strong indication of excess humidity.
- A musty odor is another great sign of excess humidity.
- You may also find some wood in the basement rotting away, as a result of mold, moisture or insects.
- Use a Humidistat to measure the humidity content in your basement periodically.
Causes of high humidity in basements
- Hot climates
- Surrounding water bodies
- Water leaks from pipes or faucets.
- Cracks on walls or floors that allow vapor in.
- Ground water finds its way to the surface through cracks or severe heat.
- Using a humidifier, especially in the summer.
- Cooking in or close to your basement.
- Lack of proper ventilation.
8 Different ways to get rid of humidity in your basement without using a dehumidifier
It will surprise you to know that some of the remedies for this problem are simple items you can find around you without breaking a sweat. Let’s see some of them.
1. Remove Moisture Sources
Moisture sources can be internal and external. Internal sources include cooking, humidifiers, your bathroom and even clothes dryer. External sources, on the other hand, include rainfall, sub-surface water, gutters and surface grading.
You may want to install an extractor in your kitchen to get the heat and moisture out, while allowing air in.
Humidifiers should be turned off when humidity rises beyond reasonable levels.
Furthermore, you may want to evaluate and clean out your gutters and have them covered up properly.
Your surface grading should also be inspected. Where it is not properly filled, repairs should be carried out to prevent vapor rising from under your house.
Outcome: You should be able to reduce humidity by more than 70% if you do these properly.
Precautions: Ensure you engage professionals where your skills fall short.
2. Block out moisture pathways
Blocking out moisture pathways is another very important way to reduce humidity in your basement. Pathways like doors, windows and walls are major ways through which moisture can get into your basements, especially in the summertime.
Shut your windows to prevent humid air from coming in during the summer.
You should also block air entry points around the four corners of your door and provide some padding for your walls to prevent heat being absorbed into your room.
Outcome: You would be able to properly manage the air within your basement without interruptions from external humidity sources.
Precautions: You should watch out for stuffiness and suffocation, especially if you are asthmatic or claustrophobic.
3. Use a fan
Using a fan or an air conditioner can also work. This will provide the dry air your basement needs. This might work alone or can be complemented by other methods.
Process: Simply install a fan or an air conditioner in your basement and set it up for operation.
Outcome: More dry air and less or suppressed humid air will significantly reduce humidity in your basement.
4. Baking Soda
This is a simple household item that has the ability to absorb moisture.
Pour a cup of baking soda into some jars or bowls and just place them around the room. You should replace the soda at least once every 4 days.
Outcome: You’ll find the baking soda becoming slightly moist as the days go by while your basement continues to lose its humidity.
Precautions: Failure to replace baking soda in good time will result in a yucky texture. Also, you should watch your pets, so they don’t ingest large amounts of the substance.
5. Charcoal Briquettes
Charcoal briquettes are another item that are easy to find. As an effective absorbent, they represent one of the cheapest ways to get rid of humidity in your basement.
Get an empty box, metal bowl or tin and add a reasonable quantity of the briquettes. You should bore some holes on the lid and in the side of the container before placing it in your basement.
Outcome: You’ll find moisture on the briquettes and around the tin when you check back after 24 hours, leading to a significant reduction in your basement’s humidity.
Precautions: Ensure it is not accessible to kids or pets to prevent choking hazard.
6. Special Plants
In a previous post we told you that plants are a source of moisture in your home, so it must seem confusing that plants are also natural dehumidifiers.
There are specific plants that have this trait and they include cactus (which originate from deserts and know how to draw water from their environments), Boston Fern, Reed Palm and the Peace Lily.
Get one or more of these special plants and cultivate them in your basement using a flower pot or large vase, especially if you have sunlight all year round.
Except for the cactus, the others may require natural or improvised manure. Most of them do not require watering and you won’t have to bring in extra water into your basement.
Outcome: The plants will absorb humidity in the air and use it for their own nourishment. This will reduce the moisture level in your basement and enhance the air quality as well.
Precautions: Ferns require sunlight to grow. This might mean creating an opening that may further allow moisture in. You may want to prevent this by using a mesh fabric that allows sunlight through but prevents moisture from going through.
7. Container Desiccant
Have you ever seen a Desiccant bag? They are also known as dry packs and serve as large dehumidifier bags, usually larger than 4.5 lbs.
They are the same types that shipping companies use on their containers when they ship them across the ocean.
Process: Simply hang one of these bags in your basement via the hanger.
Outcome: The container will suck up the moisture in the air and expand as the days go by, reducing the humidity in your basement in the process.
Precautions: Watch the containers as they inflate. It may leak out when it gets too full.
8. Large Silica Gel Bags
Just like Desiccant bags, silica gel bags do quite the same thing. A typical silica gel bag is the little packet that you find in new fashion or utility bags.
They have the inscription, “Do Not Eat”. They are also found in some food packaging. When you hold them, it feels like the bags are filled with salt.
They are actually filled with silica gel, a form of silicon dioxide that has the capacity to absorb humidity. However, for your basement, you’ll need much larger bags known as dehumidifier boxes.
Process: Simply place one or more bags at strategic spots in your basement. If possible, hang them in the air.
Outcome: The silica bags will absorb as much humidity as possible and reduce the level in your basement.
Precautions: Silica gel should not be eaten, so you may need to watch your kids and pets.
A dehumidifier is one of the easiest ways to get rid of excess humidity in a basement. However, it is not exactly cheap or easy to come by. The alternatives discussed in this post mostly address the root of the problem and proffer simple solutions to solve them.
You will find that you may not have to part with a single penny to take care of your humidity problem, except of course you need to address some floor grading, wall and gutter problems.