Excess humidity in the basement can lead to a serious number of problems and health risks. Here’s everything you should know about the ideal basement humidity, from causes to prevention.
Humidity is typically defined as the amount of moisture present in the air that surrounds you, which is also the air that you breathe.
When the humidity levels inside your home are too high or too low, it can prove to be an invisible threat to your health.
Most homeowners take effective measures to control the humidity in their homes with the help of dehumidifiers and exhaust fans.
However, one particular area that often skips their attention is the basement, which is often one of the least-used portions of the house.
The basement is also one area that’s highly susceptible to dampness and moisture, which can greatly affect its humidity levels. Too high or too low humidity in the basement isn’t just harmful to your health, but it can also lead to the growth of mold and bacteria.
Therefore, it is imperative to control and regulate the humidity levels inside your home, particularly the basement.
What is the Ideal Basement Humidity Level?
The optimum moisture level should be anywhere between 30 to 50 percent relative humidity in the basement of your home.
However, you should note here that changes in the weather and seasons can affect the humidity levels.
For example, during the summer season, moisture from outdoors tends to seep into your basement through the windows and walls. This ends up increasing the humidity levels by almost 20-25 percent.
On the other hand, during the winter months, the humidity levels can drop down to 25 percent, especially when the outdoor temperature is somewhere between -10 and 0 degrees. This is ideal for winters because it prevents the formation of ice on the inside of the windows of your basement.
Common Causes of Excess Humidity in the Basement
If the air inside your basement feels too thick and damp every time you walk into it, it’s a sign that the humidity levels are too high in there.
Although it is okay to expect a moderate amount of dampness in your basement, it is a bigger and more serious problem if the air feels heavier than usual or the walls and floors are wet to the touch.
There are numerous factors and causes that can account for excess humidity in the basement.
1. Indoor Water Leakage
One of the most common causes of excess humidity in the basement is an indoor water leakage, which results in increased moisture in the air.
An interior water leak can occur from various different sources, such as a washing machine, a broken pipe, sink, shower, toilet, or even the dishwasher. One of the biggest indicators of a water leak in the basement is wet walls or damp ceilings.
2. Lack of Circulation
This is a no-brainer because wherever there is an insufficient circulation of air, there is likely to be condensation, which can only lead to high levels of humidity.
What happens is, when your basement doesn’t receive an adequate flow of air, the prevailing air becomes damp and turns into water through the process of condensation.
This happens when the damp air comes into contact with any cool surface inside your basement, such as the floor or any metal exterior.
In the case of not enough movement, the damp air gets stuck and attracts more moisture toward it, thereby increasing the overall humidity levels of your basement.
3. Rain Water
Often times, heavy rain causes some of the water to seep and find its way inside your basement. This particularly happens due to the ineffective and improper grading or weak foundations of your house.
Even if a little amount of water finds its way inside your basement, it can eventually lead to an increased level of moisture in the air.
4. Poor Drainage System
Many houses in today’s time don’t have a subsurface drainage system. However, even the ones that do have a proper system are prone to high humidity levels in the basement due to system malfunctions. These commonly include clogged pipes, broken sump pumps, or faulty connections.
Effects of Excess Humidity in the Basement
Needless to say, excess humidity in the basement can lead to adverse effects, which is why you should always keep humidity levels well under control.
The most serious effects of increased humidity in the basement are the growth of mold and numerous health risks.
· Growth of Mold
Moist and damp places are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria and mold, which is why you are likely to come across a mold or fungal infestation in your basement more than any other area.
When there is high humidity in the air, it attracts mold and mildew that begin to grow vigorously. The worst part is that this mold ends up damaging any concrete and wooden surfaces in your basement. This is particularly true for people who use their basement as storage areas.
· Health Risks
If you use your basement a lot, you are susceptible to serious health risks posed by excess humidity and moisture levels.
These include increased blood circulation, excessive sweating (especially in summers), low energy levels, and overheating, to name a few.
Overheating, also called ‘hyperthermia,’ can further lead to heat exhaustion, dehydration, muscle cramps, and fatigue.
How to Reduce Basement Humidity
There are many methods you can use to reduce the humidity in your basement.
Install a Dehumidifier
As the name implies, the purpose of a dehumidifier is to remove excess humidity from the air. While it is not a permanent solution, it does the job well while you fix the root of the problem.
Repair Possible Leaks
In case of an interior leak or potential leakages, make sure to get them repaired at the earliest. Look for leaky pipes, toilets, or other similar fixtures that can cause high moisture levels in the house.
You must install exhaust fans in all your kitchens and bathroom because these portions of the house are almost always moist.
If exhaust fans are not convenient for you, make sure to leave the windows of your kitchen open while you’re cooking, and keep the bathroom door open after each use for at least 15-20 minutes to let all damp air out.
It is essential to control the humidity levels not just in your basement, but your entire house in order to live and breathe comfortably.
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