It might be possible that you’ve heard of the need of having dehumidifiers in your crawlspace before, but have you ever wondered why there’s a need for that? If you’ve been following some of our last blog posts you might already have an inkling of where we are going with this. In posts where we’ve discussed how your foundation reacts to the rain season we briefly touched upon this, and most recently when talking about the growth of mold as well.
In short, moisture in the crawlspace can lead to quite a few different problems for your home and your health. First, given the high plasticity of our soil, when there is enough humidity it could cause the soil to expand which can definitely have adverse effects on the foundation itself. It can also cause warping and rot in wooden beams or corrosion in metal appliances or even damage electrical connections.
This humidity, as we have discussed before, can also become a very enticing habitat for insects and pests, given their fondness of moist spaces. Also, mold and mildew outbreaks that can wreak havoc on your allergies or cause severe RTIs or respiratory tract infections. Not to mention that if you keep items in the crawlspace they might suffer severe damage.
And the thing about moisture is that it will not remain confined down there. Moisture will always work it’s way through the walls and air right into your living spaces. This is what is called the stack or chimney effect. This phenomenon causes the warmer air to move upward through your home while the cooler air will remain below, allowing the humidity to travel through, making it a bigger
Musty odors, allergy attacks, mold on ground-level walls, peeling paint or wallpaper as well as water spots, cracking floorboards and insect infestations are signs of high moisture levels in basement and crawlspaces so you always have to be on the lookout for those.
Fixing a problem will always be much more expensive than preventing it and that is the very reason that a crawlspace (or basement) dehumidifier is always a good investment. Sometimes a dehumidifier will be enough to solve the problem of humidity in your crawlspace. And in case it is not enough it is a very powerful weapon at your disposal, which will continuously battle moisture penetration in these spaces.
Now not all humidifiers are created equal. That is why if you intent on installing one for your crawlspace you need to make sure that it is one that has been specifically manufactured for the intended task: one that is made for dark, dank, sprawling areas. In the case of crawlspace dehumidifiers they are built horizontally so they can fit in cramped spaces. Given the challenging environments, they include extra features to allow them to perform perfectly as intended in these spaces.
These features will include auto defrost, which is essential as they can easily freeze in low temperatures environments.The water removal capabilities are key with your crawl space dehumidifier. These are most commonly available in 30, 50 and 70-pint models, which is a way of measuring how much water the dehumidifier can get rid of from a determined space during the span of a natural day. If moisture levels are moderate a 30-pint model can effectively dehumidify a 1,500 square foot area. The 50-pint model can handle 2,000 square foot area, so these should suffice most homeowner’s needs.
Another plus is that their maintenance is quite simple; clean top to bottom, inside and out, including the removable air filter every two or so.
Other features that crawlspace dehumidifiers might include, and which might be dealbreakers as to which model/brand to choose are as following:
An adjustable humidistat will allow you to set the unit to a specific humidity level, shutting off the humidifier once the target’s reached. The hygrometer allows you to measure and monitor humidity levels so you can evaluate the daily performance of the dehumidifier. Auto shut-off to make sure that there are no overflows once the water collection tank fills up. You’d then have to empty it in order to continue using the dehumidifier. As an alternative to a collection tank there is the continuous gravity drainage which works similar to a laundry machine as it uses a hose to discharge the water into the nearest drain. You just have to make sure that water will indeed flow downhill. Yet another option for discharging water is an internal condensate pump which also allows for continuous drainage, but this time manually ejected with a pump, which with a long hose can allow you to eject the water pretty much anywhere you like. And finally air purification filter can also be useful, specially if the air from the crawlspace tends to rise into the rooms above it. Through its removable filter the system will guarantee good air quality.
Ok, you’ve heard why it is a good idea to install a crawl space dehumidifier, but now you might be wondering about pricing; a good model can go from around $850 to $1,600 depending on the size of your required space, maybe more if your living space is even larger. In regards to the electric bills as long as the problem is moderate it should not rise your bills moren than $10. Maybe more if the problem is more severe or the space is larger. Yet the benefits outweigh the bad as this is an important tool to look after your home at all times.
However… having such a beneficial tool at home does not mean that it can be a replacement for needed repairs. Remember that moisture is incredibly resilient and can be a source of foundation problems. As a Bond villain once said: ‘You have a nasty habit of surviving’ and it can be very well applied to moisture, so remember that if the moisture problem is too big and persistent then a dehumidifier alone might not be enough to solve the issue, so make sure to seek out the advice of our professionals to have your foundation evaluated and gain valuable insight as to how to stop moisture penetration on your crawl spaces, basements and homes right in its tracks.