7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Basement Dehumidifier

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated October 12, 2021
Luxury living room in finished basement
Anatoli Igolkin/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Consider these seven things before buying a basement dehumidifier

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Buying a basement dehumidifier can turn your dark, damp basement into your new favorite spot in the home. It opens up the opportunity to use the space for activities such as a game room, entertaining area, or maybe even a home gym. But figuring out the right basement dehumidifier is important to ensure it gets the job done right and you don’t waste your money.

Here are seven things to consider when buying a basement dehumidifier.

1. How Much Square Footage Is the Dehumidifier Tackling?

The size of your basement will play a crucial part in determining the size of a dehumidifier. Most units measure their workload in square footage. A general rule of thumb is that if your basement falls into the upper limit of square footage (think within 25 square feet), then opt for a larger unit where your square footage falls into a comfortable range.

Too Small of a Unit

Going for too small of a unit can lead to problems with the dehumidifier overworking itself to accommodate the space it’s in. If the unit utilizes a bucket to hold the water then you’re likely going to be dumping the water out twice a day which can be a hassle. And you can’t ignore the bucket, since the dehumidifier will shut off if the bucket gets too full.

Too Big of a Unit

Utilizing too big of a unit may end up being a waste of energy more than anything else. Some dehumidifiers work best when they’re hooked up to the ductwork in your home to target multiple areas, so it may pull excess energy to only use it in the basement. So the humidity levels in the basement may drop, but the energy bill will rise.

2. Can It Work in Low Temperatures?

Basements are notorious for feeling cold and damp. While the dehumidifier will tackle the damp part, it still needs to work through the cold part. When buying a unit, make sure the model you pick out can survive a freezing winter night.

You’ll also want to ensure that the moisture that it pulls in doesn’t freeze either. This may require adding salt to the dehumidifier’s bucket every time you need to dump it out.

3. Do Other Areas of the Home Have a Humidity Issue?

Maybe your basement isn’t the only space in the home that constantly has high humidity levels. Some states such as Mississippi or Michigan have a high humidity level year-round and it can make the entire home uncomfortable. If you fall into this category, you can pick out a model that allows you to hook up the system to your ductwork.

If your home has an HVAC system, you can look into these models as well. This way you can save space in the basement and enjoy a low humidity level throughout the entire home, instead of just a basement or crawl space.

4. Why Are You Buying a Dehumidifier?

A small portable dehumidifier in basement
Sanghwan Kim/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Other than simply wanting to lower the humidity levels in the home, you should ask yourself why you’re buying a dehumidifier as well. Are you looking to remodel the basement into a family or living space? Or do you have a problem with allergies and adding a dehumidifier to the basement would help that out?

Pick out a model that is able to adjust the humidity levels to your needs. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your relative humidity below 51% to see a noticeable decrease in allergen levels.

5. Where Will the Collected Water Go?

Standard dehumidifiers that you buy at a superstore or home improvement retailer utilize a bucket that you need to drain every day that it’s on. Though they often also come with a drain hook up so you can connect to a floor drain or main drainage system. Be sure to hire a local plumber to make sure there’s no accidental flooding.

Since this dehumidifier is going in the basement, you may need to connect a pump as well to the machine. This allows the system to pump the water up and out of the home.

6. Does Your Basement Keep Mother Nature Out?

Before you even go out and buy a dehumidifier, you should first make sure that you’re keeping Mother Nature out of the basement. This means checking the windows and walls so that there isn’t constant new humidity coming into the home. A poor seal on a window or door can completely defeat the purpose of buying a dehumidifier.

You may want to also look into waterproofing your basement. This way, you know for a fact that everything is sealed and no water, whether it's rain, snow, or humidity, is making its way in.

7. DIY vs. Hiring a Pro

Since you can head to several retailers to pick up a dehumidifier, if you’re sticking with just the basement, you can likely handle this task on your own. Though you may still want to bring in a plumber for drainage hook up.

But if you’ve decided to tackle the humidity level of the entire house, you’ll want to bring in a pro. Your best bet is to hire a local HVAC contractor that can either install an addon to your existing HVAC. Or you can hook up a separate dehumidifier to the existing ductwork.

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