Have you ever walked into a room, or a basement and you get hit right between the eyes and on the nose with a dank and musty smell and the air is suddenly heavier to breathe?
Well, that is what humidity does, humidity is simply the moisture retained in a volume of air.
Related: Why Is My Room So Humid?
How to Dehumidify a basement naturally:
To Dehumidify your basement naturally will necessitate the use of methods other than HVAC systems and dehumidifiers.
The ideal humidity in your basement should be kept between 40 -65 percent. As much as High humidity cause problems, So can low humidity cause problems as well. It is therefore important to try and get and maintain a good balance
Mold and mildew thrive in conditions where humidity levels are higher than normal. Indoor mold, among other things, can cause respiratory issues, asthma attacks, and skin irritations.
The presence of too much humidity can also result in structural damage. Moisture will settle in the wooden beams and cause rot, which will weaken the support and, if left untreated, could become hazardous and even lead to the collapse of the structure.
There are several natural ways to dehumidify a basement that does not require the use of harsh chemicals or energy-consuming dehumidifiers.
For starters, one should inspect your basement for any sources of humidity and take to eliminating these first. This can be anything from treating the walls with a vapor guard/Damp seal, cleaning up water that forms due to condensation on pipes and any other liquid spillages.
However, if this does not solve your humidity problem, there are some other methods and steps that can be used to naturally deal with humidity in the basement, including some plants and Chrystal salts, as well as additional methods and techniques.
- Your first step would be to create some ventilation in the basement, the Moisture and contaminants in the air can escape through this ventilation.
- Install ventilation pipes for basement appliances such as dryers and heaters and open basement doors and windows to assist in avoiding moisture from being trapped
- To promote ventilation and reduce humidity on basement surfaces, leave some space between boxes and furniture and the walls.
- Improve drainage around the house to reduce humidity. Make sure the ground around the building slopes away from the basement to prevent rain runoff.
- Keep gutters clean and away from basement windows and walls. It is recommended as well to have 6 inches of gravel beneath a cement basement floor to help water drain.
- Don’t just treat the symptoms, Rather treat the cause.
- Bubbling paint, Stains, and musty smells are the tell-tale sign that you have a problem with humidity.
*Interesting Fact: Alaska is the state with the highest average relative humidity@ 77% Which is 3% higher then that of 2nd placed Florida
What natural dehumidifiers can be used in the basement?
Other than creating ventilation by opening doors and windows to increase air circulation other methods can be implemented as well,
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- Charcoal has known absorption properties – Fill a basket with a low-cost bag of charcoal. The charcoal will last for about 2-3 months. Look for coconut shell charcoal if at all possible. This charcoal has a high adsorptive quality and does not powder during adsorption, which is an important feature. However good old wood charcoal or even fire briquets will do the job as well.
- Rock Salt– Another method for reducing interior humidity without using a dehumidifier is to use rock salt, is a hygroscopic substance. This implies that it extracts and stores water molecules from its surroundings, similar to a dehumidifier. Take two identical-sized plastic tubs. To elevate the second tub, place an object within the first tub. Fill the second container with rock salt after drilling holes in it. Place the second tub into the first one. There will be some water in the bottom tub in a few days. Check to see if the bottom tub needs to be emptied daily.
- Plants– Although generally it is advised to remove plants to the outside of any room or basement, there are some plants that can assist in the dehumidification process.
Plants like Peace lilies, absorb moisture through their leaves and are ideal for basements as they require very little sunlight to survive.
Another good candidate from the plant family would be the Reed palm, Reed Palms are native to more humid parts of the world and thrive in wet environments, they don’t require much sunlight or water either to thrive
- Other plants consider – Xerophytes, Epiphytes, English Ivy, Tillandsia, Boston Fern, Spider Plant
Silica Gel is composed from sodium silicate. And is a great moisture absorber. It has a large specific surface area, making it a powerful desiccant. Despite its name, this silica is a solid material, produced in beaded or granular form.
Silica gel removes moisture from the air through a process called Adsorption. This implies that rather of absorbing moisture, Silica pulls it to the surface of its pores.
When used at room temperature, silica gel has excellent adsorption, however, it may lose water when exposed to temperatures near or above 40°C/104°F
Baking soda absorbs moisture as well. Fill decorative bowls or jars with a cup of baking soda and place them around the room. You’ll need to replace the baking soda however every 3-4 weeks because it will become stale.
Like silica gel dehumidifier boxes, container desiccant has the same function – only on a much larger scale. It is packaged in larger bags (4.5lbs or more) and is intended for use on shipping containers when transported by sea.
Test it out in your basement and see if it makes a difference! Additionally, these desiccant bags will need to be replaced as they get less effective.
Calcium chloride is another type of salt that works well as a dehumidifier. It can absorb moisture from a fairly large room, making it excellent choice for a basement or bathroom. Here’s how to make your own calcium chloride dehumidifier.
- Use an old sock, string, a large bowl, and some calcium chloride.
- Place the calcium chloride inside the sock.
- Tie the sock closed with a piece of string.
- Hang the sock in the area where you want to remove moisture.
- Place the bowl beneath the sock to catch any water that may flow off the calcium chloride once it begins to work.
- Keep an eye on the calcium chloride as it will dissolve over time and would need replacement.
Non-Diary Coffee creamer
Non-dairy coffee creamer, also known as coffee whitener, is an excellent dehumidifier. Although you might think it’s only a milk substitute, non-Diary coffee creamer has natural drying properties that can be used to dehumidify your home. Non-dairy coffee creamer works best in confined spaces, such as a bedroom or closet.
- Here’s how you can pull it off. Fill a medium-sized bowl halfway with non-dairy coffee creamer.
- Place the creamer-filled bowl in the room you want to dehumidify.
- The coffee creamer, like baking soda, will absorb moisture and harden.
- Simply replace it with new coffee whitener if this occurs.
- Alternatively, there are ready-made products like Damprid that can be used as well, however, these products are not necessarily “natural” and can contain chemicals that are not ideal
What can prevent humidity buildup in a basement?
Methods to dehumidify the basement naturally, as discussed before, will go a long way in ridding your basement from moisture build-up.
However, there are some other basic “Do’s and Don’ts” you can follow
- Install a hygrometer to keep an eye on the humidity, this will enable you to act immediately when the problem starts
- Wherever feasible, hang laundry outdoors to dry.
- Remove old carpets and any hydroscopic materials as they can absorb moisture and add to the humidity issues.
- Try and regulate your temperature in the basement with the ambient temperature and with temperatures in your home.
- Keep the basement clutter-free, Air will not be able to circulate sufficiently in an area that is tightly packed or cluttered.
- Vent the Basement daily or as often as possible, open a door or window for a few hours a day.
- Remove condensation build-up as often as possible by wiping it down regularly.
- A hot water geyser installed in the basement will generate heat as the demands increase and in the colder hours of the day, this will create moisture due to the mix of hot and cold air.
- If your home heating furnace is installed in the basement try and keep the temperature at a constant where possible, temperature changes from hot to cold and vice versa could create condensation due to air temp changes and the furnace heat changes.
Basements are prone to do humidity build-up due to their location in the home and inevitably will require some form of dehumidification whether natural or using an appliance or system.
The good news is that not every dehumidification method has to be a cash pit and that knowing there are alternatives makes for a good change.