How much humidity is too much when it comes to your basement? The answer to this simple-sounding question can be more complicated than you expect.
The truth is, the environment in your basement is a world away from the environment in the rest of your home above ground, even though the two aren’t separated by much.
The reason for this is simple: while your above-ground rooms are bordered by air, your basement walls are surrounded by soil, and often quite moist soil at that.
This makes basement humidity one of the most pressing and potentially damaging issues homeowners have to deal with. In this timely post, get the facts about basement humidity so you can protect your space from flooding, leaks, mould, mildew and worse.
How Much Basement Humidity Is Too Much?
Whether your basement is finished or unfinished, current guidelines indicate that optimal basement humidity levels should stay between 30 and 50 percent year-round, just like in your above-ground rooms.
However, homeowners report that seasonal basement humidity levels routinely rise to above 80 percent, especially during the humid summer months and after heavy storms.
You can take your own basement humidity readings using an inexpensive tool called a hygrometer that is readily available at any home store. This tool will help you chart basement humidity trends so you can better understand the fluctuating environment in your basement.
What Makes Basement Humidity Worse
Many homeowners have no idea they may be inadvertently making the humidity issues in their basement even worse.
These are common missteps homeowners make when trying to control basement humidity levels.
Installing a basement exhaust system
Your kitchen probably has a stove exhaust and your bathroom likely has an exhaust fan too. So it is easy enough to see why you might think an exhaust vent is also the right choice to move humidity out of your basement.
The trouble is, all that a basement exhaust system is really going to do is push existing air out of your basement and draw new air in from elsewhere.
Ultimately, the air surrounding your basement is probably going to be just as humid as the air inside the basement, so you are basically installing an expensive system for nothing.
Not heating your basement in winter
Leaving your basement unheated in winter might look like a money-saving strategy, especially since heating bills represent the single largest annual utility expense for most homeowners.
Unfortunately, a cold basement beneath a warm upstairs is going to create ongoing problems with condensation and extra moisture in the basement that can quickly turn into mould and mildew growth.
Installing carpeting in your basement
Carpeting can definitely help absorb sound and also shield you from the cold concrete floor. But it won’t do your humidity problem any favours and can readily attract mould and mildew spores eager to colonize and spread.
Using fiberglass-based insulation for your basement
Fiberglass is a common and popular choice for home insulation. Unfortunately, fiberglass doesn’t cope very well with humid spaces. It tends to break down and then it can’t do its job, which makes humidity issues worse.
Storing biodegradable items in the basement
Another common oops is to trek downstairs with all your extra cardboard boxes full of papers, old books, files, memorabilia and decorations.
To mould and mildew spores, all those stacks of cardboard look just like home!
If you need to store cardboard boxes and their contents in the basement, be sure to elevate them off the ground and away from the floor by using shelving to avoid a buildup of condensation. Even better, transfer them to metal or plastic boxes that are mould-unfriendly.
What to Do Instead to Reduce Basement Humidity
Now you know what not to do to ensure your basement is less vulnerable to humidity that can lead to mould, mildew and worse.
But what should you do to prevent basement humidity levels from being too high and the damage this can cause?
Dehumidify and ventilate
Rather than exhaust systems, which do little more than move humid air around, what your basement really needs is proper dehumidification along with steady ventilation.
The dehumidifier will pull humidity out of the air and the ventilation system will ensure the air in your basement is fresh.
Keep your basement heated in winter
Experts recommend keeping your basement thermostat between 58°F and 60°F (14°C and 15.5°C) during the winter to reduce the likelihood of increasing humidity levels below-ground.
Opt for tile or vinyl floors
Unlike carpeting, tile and vinyl flooring is naturally mould- and mildew-resistant. It will also repel humidity in a way carpeting cannot.
Choose the right basement insulation
There is no substitute for choosing basement insulation that is designed to work in this unique type of space.
Installing the right type of insulation can actually repel basement mould and mildew spores as well as resist moisture buildup from condensation, seepage and leaks.
Apply preventative basement waterproofing
The smartest thing you can do to protect your basement and home from excessive humidity is proactively apply basement waterproofing.
Interior basement waterproofing is affordable today – and certainly much more so than the tens of thousands of dollars in remediation costs to remedy a mould infestation or basement flood.
Get in Touch
Have you been struggling to control rising humidity levels in your basement? Are you worried about mould or mildew as temperatures heat up this summer? We can help!
Complete this form to schedule your free, no-obligation basement inspection and quote.
One of our prompt, polite and highly trained service professionals will do a thorough evaluation of your basement and recommend preventative strategies to protect your investment – absolutely free!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.