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Do I Need to Run a Dehumidifier During the Winter?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to Ohio where Terri has a moisture management problem.

    Terri, how can we help?

    TERRI: Hey, we are relatively new homeowners of a house with a basement and we’ve been advised to keep our dehumidifier on all the time and I’m wondering if we’re supposed to do that through the winter.

    LESLIE: Terri, when we bought our new house, my husband and I had so many questions and the basement is fully finished and the homeowners, when they were turning over the keys, said, “You know, I worked really hard to get all that moisture out of the basement. Make sure you run that dehumidifier,” like it was a passing-the-key warning. (Tom chuckles) So I say, yes, run it all the time. But you notice, we keep ours – we don’t have central air so we can’t have a whole-house dehumidifier, so what we have is a unit in the basement. And I keep mine on like a four-hour on, four-hour off and you’ll notice – or even if you keep it on a humidistat – it’ll kick on quite less frequently in the winter months just because there is not as much humidity.

    TOM: Now Terri, do you have a central air system or central heat?

    TERRI: We do.

    TOM: OK, so then you have another option and that’s called a whole-home dehumidifier. And a whole-home dehumidifier is something that you could have permanently installed into your HVAC system and it works on the same kind of humidistat. But basically, you won’t have to have a portable humidifier where you’re dumping water and things like that and it will dehumidify not only the basement but the entire home. Aprilaire makes one and you can look up their website at Aprilaire.com and check it out. It really is pretty cool. It takes out – if I remember right, it takes out 11 gallons of water a day out of the air; that’s how efficient it is.

    TERRI: I was under the impression that in the winter, though, the air got drier.

    TOM: It does when the heat goes on. Most of the problems with humidity is in the spring and in the fall when it’s really wet and damp. But if you have any kind of humidifier on a humidistat, it’s only going to come on when you need it.

    The other thing that I would recommend, besides all of these appliances that we’re talking about, is to make sure you’re covering the basics and those are the things that you can do to reduce moisture in your basement in the winter or the summer or the spring or the fall. Here’s the little checklist you want to follow, Terri. Write this down.

    You want to check the gutters outside. Make sure you see if they have any leaves or debris or are blocked or clogged in any way whatsoever.

    LESLIE: Because if they’re blocked or clogged, when water goes to get into it, there’s going to be no place for it so it’s just going to overspill and get right into that dirt that’s right next to your foundation, putting moisture right where you don’t want it.

    TOM: Exactly. The second thing we want you to check is the downspouts. Now in most cases, downspouts go out only a few inches from the house. If you have a basement water problem or even high humidity, you want to extend those downspouts either straight out like three or four feet or hook them up to an underground pipe and dump the water out into your curb somewhere. But get the water away from the foundation.

    And the third thing, Leslie, grading, right?

    LESLIE: Yeah, you want to make sure that you’re going down a six-inch decline over four feet going away from your house. So you want to get that grade pretty precise to make sure that anything that will sort of go is going away from the foundation and really getting away where you don’t want it. So don’t get it near the foundation. Grade away from the house.

    TOM: See, Terri, if you manage the water around your house by making sure your gutters are clean, your downspouts are extended, and your grading is properly shaped, you’re going to have less of a humidity problem in that basement all over.

    TERRI: Sounds great. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome and good luck with that house. Call us again if you need anymore advice.

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