A damp and dark basement with the words "Damp Basement?" in white text.

It’s no secret that basements can be damp places, which can cause damage to any of your belongings stored there.

Dehumidifying your basement could be the difference between having to clean the mold off your golf bag at the start of each season or not.

Most basements are at least 50% humid on average, so they’re probably going to cause mold and mildew issues if steps aren’t taken to dehumidify them.

If your basement is feeling a little damp, check for leaks around pipes, and make sure that your basement is well-ventilated — open any windows and doors to let fresh air circulate. If you have a fan, use it to help circulate air. Use a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air.

Fortunately, there are many inexpensive ways to dehumidify your basement, each being relatively simple and easy to implement.

Here are 13 easy ways to dehumidify your basement!

1. Open Egress Windows

An egress window in a basement at ground level.
Opening your windows can help to reduce humidity levels in your basement.

Opening egress windows in your basement is an easy and cheap way to keep humidity levels down.

It also helps remove some of the odor from molding areas. Use the handles on either side of the window and push up to open the window.

Egress windows are designed to make summer humidity levels bearable because they provide additional ventilation.

2. Reduce Clutter and Make Your Basement More Spacious

Creating a spacious and clutter-free basement will allow better air circulation and significantly reduce the potential for mold, mildew, and fungal growth.

Here are some simple steps you can take today to reduce the humidity in your basement:

  • Clear out excess items from the basement, reducing moisture absorption by walls, floors, and furniture.
  • Create dedicated storage areas that are big enough for everything and utilize them.
  • Open windows or doors whenever possible, so fresh air can circulate.
  • Make sure your furnace vents aren’t aimed toward your basement.

3. Increase Thermostat Temperature

A homeowner adjusts the settings on their smart thermostat from their smartphone.
Keeping the temperature of your basement around 72°F can help to reduce humidity levels.

One of the easiest ways to dehumidify your basement is by adjusting the thermostat temperature.

Keeping it at around 72°F (22°C) will release water vapor through the air conditioning.

It is important to note that the thermostat should be set no higher than 80°, or you risk encouraging mold growth.

4. Seal Up Any Cracks or HVAC Leaks

Basements are prone to cracks and HVAC leaks. If there are no leaks, the problem might be a faulty drainage system, and there’s not much you can do besides repair it.

If the dampness is due to a leak, you’ll want to find the leak’s source and ensure that it has been repaired by filling in any gaps around the windows with weather stripping and sealing around pipes with caulk.

You’ll also want to ensure that all water hoses have been disconnected so they don’t get wet and cause mold growth in damp places like laundry rooms.

5. Use Vapor Guard or Damp Seal on Basement Walls

Waterproof coating applied to a section of a basement wall.
Products are available that can prevent the ingress of water through your basement walls, reducing dampness and humidity inside.

An airtight vapor guard is a sealant that coats the walls in a water-repellent compound, blocking any moisture from getting through the cracks in the wall’s foundation.

The best part about this system is that it’s super easy to install and doesn’t require any specialized tools.

You must brush on a coat of sealant with either a paint roller or brush and then wait 24 hours for it to dry before doing another coat.

For more information on vapor barriers, read our article about them here.

6. Install Ventilation Pipes for Appliances

Installing ventilation pipes will stop moist air from recirculating in the basement.

Install pipes near the top of your furnace ducts and appliances, such as your dryer and washing machine.

Alternatively, you can install a drain and dryer vent if your washing machine doesn’t already have one.

Finally, leave a window open whenever you run appliances such as washers and dryers. This will ensure that any moist air created by using them gets removed from your home as quickly as possible.

7. Improve Drainage Around the Basement

A perforated green pipe laid in a gravel bed. This is known as a French Drain and can be used for dehumidifying your basement.
A French Drain can intercept water present in the ground and direct it away from the wall of your basement. This prevents water from seeping in through your walls and causing dampness and high humidity in your basement.

Drainage is essential when it comes to dehumidifying your basement.

Installing a perimeter drain can prevent groundwater from coming into contact with the basement walls and seeping through them, causing dampness inside the basement.

Make sure you’re using gravel, not just any type of dirt because dirt is liable to pack down and block up the drain, which will only make your problem worse.

If you want the water to flow at a higher speed, you can build a cone out of large rocks or lay flat stones on an incline along the drainage path.

Also, be aware that these drainage channels can get clogged with leaves and weeds over time, so plan to check them often and unclog them if needed.

To improve drainage around the basement, consider installing a French drain in the lowest point of your yard.

A French drain is a trench dug on the outside edge of your property and extends underground until it reaches an area where the soil can absorb water without causing flooding.

With this system, rainwater and groundwater will filter through the soil and leave via the drain, which carries it away from your house.

This could help alleviate some moisture problems you experience inside your home.

8. Use a Natural Dehumidifier Like Charcoal or Rock Salt

Charcoal is one of the best natural dehumidifiers. It can absorb a surprising amount of moisture, but it will also need a way to be ventilated and stay dry.

This method is not advised for those with respiratory issues.

Rock salt can also provide some relief by drawing water out of the air by diffusion. However, it will eventually dissolve into unusable slush if not put into a dehumidifier within 24 hours after being saturated.

9. Place Plants around the Basement

A green plant being planted in soil by a child.
Planting around the perimeter of a basement can help to soak up excess water and stop it from seeping into a basement. Make sure you don’t plant trees too close to your house because their roots can cause problems with its foundations.

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to reduce moisture in your basement is by placing plants around its perimeter.

Growing grass outside your basement can reduce runoff and soak up excess water.

Certain plants can be used inside your basement to absorb moisture. For example, peace lilies soak up moisture via their leaves and don’t need much sunshine to survive.

You should take care of your plants by trimming or removing dead leaves or other signs of neglect and replenishing their soil from time to time.

10. Clean Your Air Vents

Air vents are great for keeping your home’s humidity levels in check and removing any musty odors.

But they can also easily get clogged with dust and other debris. Fortunately, cleaning them is an easy fix that won’t take up much of your time.

11. Install a Ceiling Fan

A ceiling vent in a white ceiling.
Mechanical ventilation systems use strategically placed vents to direct air through the house.

Installing a ceiling fan is an effective way to dehumidify your basement.

That’s because a fan can suck humid air from the ground level and carry it out through the exhaust system.

A good tip is to make sure you install a fan with a light so you can see what you’re doing while working down there.

12. Install a Portable Dehumidifier

Purchase a portable dehumidifier. These machines are typically less expensive than the other methods and require little maintenance.

Place the unit in a room or basement with high humidity and turn it on for at least 24 hours. This will significantly reduce the humidity inside the basement.

For more information about dehumidifiers and how they work, check out our article on the subject here.

13. Consider a Zoned HVAC System

Side view of a mini-split's compressor unit next to a central AC outside a home
An HVAC system split into different zones can keep your basement at the right temperature to avoid excessive humidity and also keep the rest of your home comfortable at the same time.

This approach can help you dehumidify and cool your basement without affecting the rest of your home.

A zoned HVAC system allows you to set a different temperature in one specific area of your home.

In this instance, only the basement is affected while the rest of the house remains at a different temperature.

This enables your system to maintain the basement at the optimum temperature for reducing moisture instead of attempting to maintain a balance between this and the rest of your home.

Final Thoughts

Humidity can be a real problem in basements, leading to dampness and mold.

This can damage items stored down there and even affect your health if you spend significant amounts of time in your basement.

If your basement suffers from dampness and high humidity, consider following some of the tips above to address this before it causes damage or health issues.

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