Will A Dehumidifier In The Basement Help The Whole House

Will A Dehumidifier In The Basement Help The Whole House

Will A Dehumidifier In The Basement Help The Whole House

will a dehumidifier in the basement help the whole house

Excessive humidity in your home can cause a lot of problems for the structural integrity of your house as well as the health of you and your family. A dehumidifier is the solution to removing moisture from the air, and you can find models for every room in your home, but can one dehumidifier in the basement help the entire house?

The dampness in underground areas is caused by moisture either entering through water leaks, seeping into the foundation, or because of unusually high levels of humidity in the main living areas. Basement moisture problems should be addressed as they can lead to mold growth that will affect your health and potentially cause structural damage.

Your basement is likely to be the most humid room in the house. Basements are often poorly insulated and have few, if any, windows, resulting in inadequate ventilation. Consequently, the air in basements often holds larger volumes of water vapor and is more humid. A dehumidifier can remove this moisture and reduce humidity levels, but will a dehumidifier in a basement help upstairs?

Humidity is a measure of water vapor in the air – the more moisture there is, the higher the humidity will be. A comfortable humidity is between 30% and 50% according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Anything above this can make the room, or your whole house, feel stuffy. It can also encourage mold, mildew and dust mites.

The US Government’s Energy Star program recommends placing your dehumidifier away from walls to allow air to circulate freely, and away from dust and dirt that could clog the coils as the air is drawn in. It also suggests keeping doors and windows in the space closed during dehumidification to ensure moisture is removed as efficiently as possible.

If the humidity is over 80%, that could promote mildew and mold growth. Moisture might seep into the house’s foundation, or water leaks might increase its level. Even just an unusually high humidity level inside the main house is reason enough for a damp basement. A dehumidifier can take that 80% down to 50%, preventing structural damage and protecting the indoor air quality.

Your basement is likely to be consistently more humid than upstairs, but there are things you can do if your basement is too humid. A dehumidifier can be a great way to reduce humidity in a basement and prevent basement mold from making you sick. 

A basement dehumidifier designed to work in low temperatures with proper square-foot and pint rating can work for your entire home.  Whole-house dehumidifiers can also be professionally attached to an HVAC system to help keep the humidity at optimal levels in your entire home.

A dehumidifier in the basement helps the whole house by protecting your foundation from mold and keeping your basement’s humidity below 50%. Some signs you need a dehumidifier are condensation, a musty smell, mold growth, creaky floors, and peeling wallpaper. However, if your whole house has moisture problems, you need a whole-house dehumidifier, not just a portable basement unit.

Read on to find out how to find a basement dehumidifier that will work to remove excessive dampness in your whole house effectively.  Learn what aspects you need to consider when shopping for a dehumidifier.  I have also put together a table with features and ratings to help you choose the best dehumidifier for your needs.   

What Type of Dehumidifier Can Work for the Entire House?

The basement is the most common area of your home that experiences high moisture levels, so many people opt for a basement dehumidifier to address the problem. If you have excessive humidity in other areas of your home, you can choose to purchase small dehumidifiers for each room. However, for the sake of convenience and ease of maintenance, you may prefer to buy a single dehumidifier unit that stays in the basement and out of sight.

To determine the type of dehumidifier you need, you must assess the particular humidity problems in your home. Although a portable dehumidifier installed in your basement seems like the easiest option as it’s less expensive and simple to install, it will not serve your entire home.

a whole-house dehumidifier absorbs the excess moisture in the entire living space from its fixed position. This is due to its fan, which moves more air over the coils. And the more air it pulls, the more moisture it pulls (in less time than portable dehumidifiers). Furthermore, you can outfit the dehumidifier with ducting to enhance the fan’s effectiveness.

A portable unit doesn’t have the power to provide that coverage. Portable dehumidifiers cover a single room at a time but can be moved from your living room to your basement. You might consider buying a portable dehumidifier and taking turns to place it in different rooms; nonetheless, this isn’t effective or recommended if your house has humidity problems.

In addition, whole-house dehumidifiers are bigger and more durable with sturdy materials, such as heavy-duty plastic or stainless steel. However, portable dehumidifiers sit at about waist-high, are made of plastic, and have a removable bucket for collecting water.

Portable dehumidifiers are also less expensive but not suitable long-term investments since they require much maintenance and their parts aren’t readily available.

The standard dehumidifier used for basement moisture issues is portable. As the name suggests, this model can be easily moved and stored. Some homeowners opt to purchase a dehumidifier that attaches to an HVAC system and requires professional installation.  Let’s look into the pros and cons of each, and then I will give you a handy table to compare models and the features that best suit your needs. 

Portable Dehumidifier Pros And Cons

A portable dehumidifier is just like the name indicates, a portable unit that can be moved from your basement to your bedroom to help reduce moisture levels. However, it is only designed to address humidity in one room or a small section of your home. This unit is not recommended if you have humidity problems across a larger area.

However, they are relatively inexpensive and easy to install in minutes. They are made of mostly plastic materials, sit at about waist high, and come with a water bucket to collect moisture. Since they are generally so inexpensive, replacement parts are not readily available. Because of this and their tendency to need more frequent maintenance, you may have to buy a completely new unit.

Portable dehumidifiers are meant to be moved from room to room but are too small in capacity and size to effectively dehumidify your entire home.

The pros of using a portable dehumidifier:

  • Affordability
  • Small size
  • Easily moved around the house as needed
  • Easy to set up

The cons of using a portable dehumidifier:

  • Difficult to find replacement parts
  • Not as effective in dehumidifying large houses with multiple levels
  • Multiple units may be required to address all rooms of your home
  • Small water reservoir that needs to be emptied daily

Whole-House Dehumidifier Pros And Cons

When you are looking for a dehumidifier unit that can address high humidity in your entire house, you will want to select a whole-house dehumidifier. This type of dehumidifier can be installed in your basement or whichever area of your home you prefer and will work to lower the humidity levels of your entire house.

If you’re looking to address moisture issues throughout all of your living areas, a whole-house dehumidifier is a way to go. You can install it in the basement of your home and it will be capable of servicing the upper levels.

Whole-house dehumidifiers reduce and manage humidity levels throughout the entire home. While a portable dehumidifier is intended to handle moisture problems in one specific area, the whole house units have a larger compressor and condensing coils allowing them to remove more moisture in less time. Additionally, these units can be outfitted with ducting to make effective use of the fan.

As a result, whole-house dehumidifiers are larger and made of more durable materials such as stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic. They can be hidden out of sight in your basement and typically require very little maintenance.

A whole house dehumidifier can reduce the excess humidity level from every square footage of the house. It is housed in the basement for best results, where the noise levels and size do not affect the living space. Placing full house dehumidifiers in basement is a long-term solution to the moisture problem in your entire house.

The dehumidifier for the full house offers great convenience and comfort. You need not keep climbing down the basement to change dehumidifier settings. Wall mount the control panel in the living room upstairs to operate the unit from the comfort of your couch. The condensed water collected in the reservoir can be auto drained to a floor sink in the basement. Hence there is no need to empty the reservoirs manually.

Consequently, these units are more expensive and more complicated to install. You should consult an HVAC professional to install your whole house dehumidifier.

The pros of using a whole-house dehumidifier:

  • Only one unit is needed
  • Can manage humidity in your entire home
  • Can decrease humidity quickly
  • Tend to be low maintenance
  • Connects to a drain; no water reservoir to empty

The cons of using a whole-house dehumidifier:

  • Can be expensive
  • It Will require more space, which may limit where you can install it
  • Requires hiring a professional for installation (DYI may void the warranty!)
  • Conventional whole-house dehumidifiers need to be in temperatures of at least 65 degrees to operate properly

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both types of dehumidifiers, but if you are looking for one unit that will work for your entire home, a whole-house dehumidifier is the way to go.

What to Know When Purchasing a Whole-House Dehumidifier

Whole-house dehumidifiers are more expensive and much larger than their portable counterparts. They are made of stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic, which makes them more durable, but they can be unsightly so they’re often installed, by a professional, in the basement within an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system.

Whole-house dehumidifiers work in the same way as portable dehumidifiers, but feature a larger compressor and have bigger condensing coils, allowing them to remove more moisture in less time. According to AchooAllergy, whole-house dehumidifiers enable you to automatically control humidity throughout your entire home, and are up to four times more energy efficient than portable dehumidifiers. They’re also quieter, have a longer lifespan, and require little maintenance.

Since a whole-house dehumidifier needs to be installed correctly in your basement, there is more to consider than when purchasing a portable unit.

Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for a whole-house dehumidifier:

  • You will most likely need to consult with an HVAC professional to have the dehumidifier properly installed.
  • If you are planning to have the dehumidifier installed in your basement, you will need to select a specifically designed unit to work at temperatures lower than 65 degrees. Your typical basement averages 55 degrees which may be too low for a conventional whole-house dehumidifier.
  • For less maintenance, select a basement dehumidifier with an automatic draining feature; otherwise, you will have to empty out a reservoir when water collects, just like with a portable dehumidifier. (see table below for specific features)

Use the above guidelines while shopping for a whole-house dehumidifier. You can save yourself some potential headaches from picking an incompatible unit or underestimating the amount of work it may take to install.

Checking Humidity Levels With a Hygrometer

You can also check the humidity levels in your home with a multi-room hygrometer, which can be found at your local hardware store or here on Amazon.  These devices resemble thermometers, but instead of measuring the temperature, they measure the air’s moisture levels. If you purchase a dehumidifier, it will likely have a built-in hygrometer so the unit can be set for your desired humidity level.


No, it’d be best if you only did so in the winter, provided that the basement has a high relative humidity (more than 50%) because that runs the risks of mold growth and other moisture problems.

Why A Dehumidifier In The Basement Helps The Whole House

Let me anticipate you that my conclusion is that a dehumidifier in the basement will help the whole house. Nevertheless, allow me to consider different factors when taking this decision.

Basements are the dampest spaces in any home. Groundwater seepage, pipe leakage, and water stagnation increase this space’s relative humidity much more than any other floor at home. Even if you have used a sump pump to get rid of the puddles, the moisture remains a massive problem in basements.

According to the Basement Health Association, whenever the relative humidity of basements exceeds 80%, it falls prey to thriving mold growth, foul odor, and pest infestation. High basement humidity can also cause severe structural damage, wall cracks, wood rot, machine rusting, and ghosting to the home you live in. All these issues can creep upstairs and damage your indoor air quality and building in no time.

So far, we’ve only mentioned reasons to use a dehumidifier. So, let us delve deeper into detail about why you should place that dehumidifier in the basement specifically. Firstly, you should install a dehumidifier on the floor with the lowest temperature, which is more often than not, the basement.

While you may prefer to place your dehumidifier out of sight in your basement, you can place it on any floor in your home. However, consider the following factors when deciding on the placement of your dehumidifier:

Tip: If you have a multiple stories-house, check to see if the upper-level floor is colder than the basement. If it is, you might want to weigh the advantages of upstairs vs. basement dehumidifiers.

  1. Temperature. You should place your dehumidifier on the floor with the coldest temperature. Most often, this is the basement but could be an upper-level floor.
  2. Level of your home with the most moisture. In order to properly tackle high levels of humidity in your home, place the dehumidifier on the floor and in the area with the most moisture. Since basements are so susceptible to humidity problems, they’re typically the go-to place. However, you may be experiencing more moisture in your laundry room, kitchen, or bathroom it makes sense to place the unit where there’s a higher moisture level. We’ve already established that basements are particularly prone to humidity problems, so a basement dehumidifier will help decrease the humidity level all over the house. In my experience, the basement is the place with a higher moisture average inside a property.
  3. Area with the best airflow. You should install your dehumidifier in a space that allows easy access for drawing air in and expelling hot air. Make sure that there are no obstacles that could prevent or obstruct proper airflow.
  4. Proximity to the electrical source. You need to place the dehumidifier in a location that has easy accessibility to an electrical source. However, you don’t want it too close and cause the potential of electrocution.
  5. Away from dust, lint, and other air particles. If you install your dehumidifier near an area that experiences a lot of dust, this will put too much strain on the filter and lead to damage within a short period of time.
  6. Personal preference. Especially in the case of portable dehumidifiers, the location of your dehumidifier can depend largely on your own personal choice. a less prominent reason people put their units in the basement is based on personal preference. Many people merely prefer to keep their dehumidifiers out of sight, perhaps because it interferes with their living spaces’ aesthetics.

How Do I Know if I Need a Dehumidifier for My Home?

you’re advised to use a basement dehumidifier to combat the high levels of moisture. If you aren’t sure whether the moisture level is too high in your basement or not, you can use a hygrometer to measure it. 

For some homes, the basement is the only area suffering from excess moisture, so you won’t necessarily require a dehumidifier for your entire house.

Any underground areas of your home are more susceptible to high humidity due to:

  • Rain or ground-water seeping in through cracks in the foundation
  • Poor insulation
  • Leaking pipes
  • Unvented clothes dryers

Addressing the root cause of excessive humidity can help solve your problem, but using a dehumidifier may be an easier and more cost-effective solution.

Here are some ways to know if your moisture problem is confined to the basement or has affected the rest of your home. If you notice any of the below conditions in the above-ground areas of your house, it would be beneficial to start using a dehumidifier.

  • The humidity level is above 50%. The recommended humidity level for a home is between 30% and 50%. 
  • Your home feels stuffy, and there is a damp residue on the walls.
  • There is dampness on the walls windows and ceiling. You will visually notice condensation.
  • Objects with visible mold or mildew growth: You can see mold growing on the ceiling or in the corners. Mold can be fairly common in the bathroom because of the humidity from hot showers and baths, but if you are noticing mold in other rooms of your home, the humidity is higher than recommended.
  • Your home smells musty or stale. This in your basement signals the presence of mildew and mold.
  • The wallpaper is peeling off. This is caused by moisture penetrating your walls and turning into steam.
  • Creaky floors or cabinets can be a sign that the wood has absorbed excessive moisture and expanded.
  • Mildew smelling objects in the basement
  • You notice watermarks on your floors, signifying that moisture is rising up through your foundation.

If you notice any of the above signs in your basement or underground areas of your home, you can easily get an affordable dehumidifier that will take care of the problem. However, if you see signs of high humidity in the above-ground areas of your house, you may want to consider the convenience of a whole-house dehumidifier.

If you’ve noticed some of these signs in your house, here are all the ways dehumidification can fix the excess humidity issue and help your home. First and foremost, dehumidifiers reduce the moisture level in your house’s atmosphere, which has multiple implications.

You wouldn’t have to worry about mildew, mold growth, or dust mite allergens. Moreover, you can rest assured that your house’s inner integrity is protected, and your drywall, carpets, wood, and paint are well-preserved. A reduction of moisture also means that insects are less likely to thrive in that atmosphere.

Even in terms of finance, using a dehumidifier is a good idea because you won’t have to turn the air conditioning on as much, saving on energy and costs. Overall, a dehumidifier provides you with better air quality

What is the best place to put a dehumidifier in 2 story house?

If you live in a two-storey home and have more than a single dehumidifier, you need to share it between floors that have the highest humidity level. The spaces that have high moisture are usually the 2nd floor, attic, and basement. So you can spread the dehumidifier placement between the 2nd floor and basement.

If you have only one dehumidifier, the best place to install it is in basements, as this space has the highest moisture level in the house. For more improved air quality, you must place the dehumidifier near moisture sources.

What Can Happen if I Don’t Use a Dehumidifier for Excess Humidity in My Home?

If you have high humidity levels in your home but don’t address the problem with a dehumidifier, you can run into some future problems that could end up being quite costly.

Excess humidity in your home can lead to:

  • Bacterial growth
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Mildew

These side effects of high humidity in your home can also aggravate allergies, asthma, and respiratory problems. If anyone in your home is vulnerable, you’ll definitely want to use a dehumidifier to regulate the humidity level.

An air conditioner can also be used to decrease the humidity level by drying the air. If you would also like to cool the area, you are dehumidifying, running an air conditioner would be a good option. For colder months, a dehumidifier may be the preferred choice.

Buying A Whole House Dehumidifier For The Basement

Conventional whole-home dehumidifiers are often only effective when they operate at temperatures that are above 65 degrees. Since basements are normally much cooler than the rest of the home, they’ll usually sit at around 55 degrees throughout the year. Because of this, you’ll need to install a low temperature or basement dehumidifier intended to work effectively at temperatures lower than 65 degrees.

For the sake of convenience and aesthetics, a whole-house dehumidifier is the recommended solution for tackling high humidity in your entire house. You will only need to manage one unit, and it can stay in your basement or other areas of your choice. For further convenience, choose a dehumidifier with an automatic draining feature (a hose attachment into a floor drain will spare you the need to empty the unit’s reservoir daily).

Therefore, you want to choose a basement dehumidifier that features automatic draining of extra moisture rather than one that requires you to empty a reservoir. Depending on the model that you choose, it may drain the collected dehumidifier water into a floor drain, sump pump, or possibly up into a sink drain.

A whole house dehumidifier can reduce the excess humidity level from every square footage of the house. It is housed in the basement for best results, where the noise levels and size do not affect the living space. Placing full house dehumidifiers in basement is a long-term solution to the moisture problem in your entire house.

The dehumidifier for the full house offers great convenience and comfort. You need not keep climbing down the basement to change dehumidifier settings. Wall mount the control panel in the living room upstairs to operate the unit from the comfort of your couch. The condensed water collected in the reservoir can be auto drained to a floor sink in the basement. Hence there is no need to empty the reservoirs manually.

Regardless, consult an HVAC professional to help you design and install the proper dehumidification system in your basement that can still help your entire home.

 Here is a table with top-rated whole-house dehumidifiers with features and notes to help you choose the best dehumidifier for your needs:

Dehumidifier Brand & ModelSq ft ratingPints Per Day Rating‡‡Reservoir Tank Size (Pints) ‡‡‡Drain Hose*Unit Size**  Weight (lbs)**Professional Installation?Noise LevelPrice USD***Notes
Midea MAD20C1ZWS1500-450020-506.4-12.8Yes16” x 12” x 25”33 lbsNoMedium 51db$175-220Highly rated.  Has reusable air filter.  Look for coupon to save more on Amazon
Waykar200034 Pints6.4 PintsYes12.2” X 9” X 19.7”33.1NoQuite$170For longer life, Leave unit upright for 24 hours before turning the power on for the first time.
Colzer4000707.4Yes11.4” x 11.4” x 23.8”29 lbsNoQuite 42db$250This unit is effective yet easy to move.  Look for coupon to save more on Amazon
Aprilaire 18502800-720070-130No ReservoirYes30” x 20” x 18.75”70-114YesHigh$940-$1660Use a professional installer. Otherwise, you may void the warranty.
COLZER 232 PPD8000230No ReservoirYes21.7” x 23.4” x 38”105 lbsNoHigh$1000This unit is an industrial-strength unit—ideal for water-damaged or flooded areas.

Features, sizes, prices, and ratings of top-rated whole house humidifiers.

‡ Maximum rating. For better operation, choose a higher-rated unit.

‡‡ For reference, 8 pints equal to one gallon.

‡‡‡ In high humidity home, you may need to empty the reservoir 3-4 times per day unless you use a drain hose! 

* Hose may not be included with the unit

** Approximate sizes and weights. Most units have wheels for easy movement despite the size or weight

*** Prices at the time of writing (February 2022). Add installation cost to Aprilaire 1850

Remember, if you would prefer that the unit be installed in your basement, be sure to purchase a low temperature or basement dehumidifier that can operate in temperatures under 65 degrees. If you follow these tips, you will be on your way to improving your indoor air quality in no time.

Usage Of A Whole House Demuhidifier Along With A Pump Or Directly Through The Drain

Basement dehumidifiers are very similar to standard humidifiers, however, due to the potential for high volumes of humidity being removed from the air in the form of water, thought should be put into drainage solutions.

You could channel the moisture directly down the drain, or into the laundry or utility sink, or even into a tub to enable you to reuse it. If you haven’t got suitable drainage in the basement, you may need to invest in a dehumidifier with a pump to move the water away from the dehumidifier.

The condensed water collected in the reservoir can be auto drained to a floor sink in the basement. Hence there is no need to empty the reservoirs manually.

Normally, you should have a way to discharge through the drain as all those plumbing fixtures are present since the top out phase, very early.

In Which Part Of The Basement Should The Dehumidifier Be Installed?

Finished basements add much value and space to your home. You can use the basement space as a living area if you remove excess moisture from your basement. A good idea is to use vinyl floors and tiles and to run fans or air conditioners. But this alone will not suffice.
You need best basement dehumidifiers or whole home dehumidifiers to eliminate mold and other moisture issues. But just installing the dehumidifiers will not do the job effectively. You need to make sure that the unit is placed advantageously to maintain adequate moisture levels and save money.

Don’t know where to place the dehumidifier in basement?

We’ll help you.

Place the dehumidifier unit at the center of the basement, or at least 6 inches away from any furniture or wall. This placement enables better moisture removal, as there is sufficient air flow around the unit.

Before buying basement dehumidifiers or whole home dehumidifiers, you must understand the temperature requirements, drainage facility, and open moisture sources. You can check out the articles we post on reviews and information on buying the best basement dehumidifier model.

Frequently Asked Questions

What level of humidity grows mold?

Your indoor RH (Relative Humidity) should be below 60 perfect. However, it’s ideal if this number falls between 30 percent to 50 percent. The lower this number is, the less likely that you will grow mold in your home. Also, lower humidity levels discourage cockroaches and dust mites from infiltrating your house.

Will a dehumidifier kill mold?

No, a dehumidifier will not kill mold, but they do help to prevent it by reducing the humidity levels. If you’re looking to remove all the mold from your home, it’s nearly impossible to remove every single spore. The mold will stay dormant in your air and on other surfaces if there’s no extra moisture that helps it grow. So if you put a dehumidifier and air purifier in the room, that should do the trick.

Should I run a fan with a dehumidifier?

Yes, you can run a fan with a dehumidifier, but it’s not necessary. You can also run a dehumidifier with an air purifier for maximum benefit. This will help keep your air clean and to keep the humidity low within the area you have them running.

What is a stand alone whole house dehumidifier?

Unlike portable dehumidifiers, whole house dehumidifiers are fixed, robust units that work best when installed in the basement’s HVAC system. They come in compressor, desiccant, and dehumidifier ventilator types. The compressor-based dehumidifier units may be a bit expensive, less portable, and high on energy consumption than other basement dehumidifiers.

Are basements more humid than upstairs?

Yes, the basement spaces have much more moisture, mold, foul odor, and pests than rooms upstairs. It consists of vents that let humid air in and water seepage sources that raise humidity levels. Go for the best basement dehumidifier or dehumidifier for the whole house to eliminate excess moisture.

What is a good setting for a dehumidifier in the basement?

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the ideal humidity levels of any house must be between 30% and 50%. Experts suggest that the dehumidifier settings need to be between 40 % to 45% for best dehumidification, mold removal, and saving.

Where to put a dehumidifier in mobile home?

For best even dehumidification, place the dehumidifier at the center of your mobile home. But if you face moisture problems like mold growth or a musty odor in any particular area, you may place the unit in the problem area. Or you may also place it near moisture sources like vents or bathrooms for easy dehumidification and drainage.

Photo of author

BY M. Kogan

Hello, I am Marcio. I am an architect and designer, alma mater is Mackenzie. Retired in theory, but an architect never retires completely. Along with architectural projects, I am a filmmaker and have completed some short documentaries. Filmmaking and design are my passions. In HomeQN I write about home decoration and foundations. The goal is to teach homeowners to DYI as much as possible, and when this is not possible, enable them through knowledge, to evaluate service quotations and choose the best service technicians.

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