23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (2024)

    Home Rooms Basement Basement Flooring

    23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (1)Andrew ZoellnerUpdated: Mar. 29, 2023

      Add some value to your home with a finished basement! Check out these tips for making sure you start with a clean, dry space and then turn your basement into an awesome rec room, family room or even add another bedroom.

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      `23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (2)Family Handyman

      Dry Your Basement

      If you have a damp or wet basement, you have to fix it before you start any finishing work. The good news is that most water problems can be remedied by two measures: grading the soil to slope away from the foundation and adding or repairing gutters and downspouts. If these steps don’t work, you’ll have to take more extreme measures like adding exterior drain tile and waterproofing the walls or adding interior drain tile that empties into a sump basket with a pump. Here, find out the cost of finishing a basement.

      If you want to keep your basement dry, here’s how to waterproof a basement floor.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (3)Family Handyman

      Diagnose the Water Problem

      Water or moisture in basements comes from two sources. One source is indoor humidity that condenses on cold surfaces, much like water droplets form on a cold drink on a humid day. The other is water—or water vapor—that comes from outside. Rainwater, melting snow or groundwater can saturate the soil around your foundation and leak in. Water can leak through cracks, or it can penetrate porous concrete or masonry walls in the form of water vapor. To figure out what’s causing the problem, tape aluminum foil to your basement wall and inspect it a few days later. Moisture on the outside surface of the foil indicates high indoor humidity. Moisture behind the foil means moisture is leaking through the walls.

      Find out what your basement’s humidity should be.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (4)Family Handyman

      Get Rid of Excess Humidity

      Eliminating the sources of humid air will help dry out your basement. Seal leaky dryer vents with foil tape to prevent unwanted humid air from entering your basement. Don't just use duct tape; it'll eventually fall off. Add a vent fan to your basement bathroom and make sure your family turns it on during showers. Keep your basement windows closed during humid weather. And if you're still getting condensation on cool surfaces, run a dehumidifier to lower the indoor humidity.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (5)Family Handyman

      Insulate Pipes

      Condensation dripping from cold pipes can contribute to basement water problems. Cover cold water pipes with foam pipe insulation to stop condensation. The foam insulation is inexpensive and easy to cut with scissors.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (6)Family Handyman

      Insulate Walls

      Insulate exterior walls to prevent condensation. In cold climates, wall insulation in the basement also saves energy and reduces your heating bill. But don't cover the walls with insulation if water is leaking in from outside; you'll just create a potential mold problem.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (7)Family Handyman

      Keep Water Away From the Foundation

      If your basement leaks after heavy rains or after snow melts, making sure water is diverted away from your foundation may solve the problem. It's common for the soil alongside your house to settle over time, creating a moat that collects runoff and directs it down your foundation wall and into the basement. Lawn edging and gravel along the foundation can make things worse. Solve the problem by creating a 6-ft.-wide slope that drops about 4 in. away from the foundation. For extra insurance, cover the sloping soil with a layer of 6-mil poly. Then hide the poly with mulch, gravel or a layer of soil covered with grass. This will keep water from soaking in near the foundation.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (8)Family Handyman

      Add Gutters and Extend Downspouts

      If your basement leaks after it rains and you don't have gutters, consider adding them. Gutters catch the rain and channel it to the downspouts, which direct it away from the house. Whether you're installing new gutters or already have them, be sure the downspouts have 4- to 6-ft. horizontal extensions to move the water away from the house.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (9)Family Handyman

      Plug Holes and Cracks in the Foundation

      Holes and cracks in your foundation can let moisture and water seep into your basement. Plugging them probably won't solve basement leaks, but it'll help. Hydraulic cement works great for patching holes in a foundation because it can set up even under water, and it expands as it sets to seal the hole and lock the plug in place. Use a cold chisel or an angle grinder fitted with a masonry-cutting disc or diamond blade to enlarge the hole or crack into an inverted "V," with the narrow part of the "V" on the surface of the wall. Then follow the package instructions for mixing and using the hydraulic cement.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (10)Family Handyman

      Waterproof the Walls

      Waterproof coatings that go on like paint fill the pores in the concrete or masonry walls and prevent water from leaking in. To be effective, these coatings must be applied to bare concrete or masonry walls. Start by removing loose material with a wire brush. Then clean off any white powdery “efflorescence” with masonry cleaner. Follow the safety and application instructions carefully. A common mistake when using masonry waterproofing products is to spread them too thin. The goal is to fill every pinhole to create a continuous waterproofing membrane. Brush the coating in all directions to completely fill every pinhole. Add a second coat after the first dries.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (11)Family Handyman

      Install a Drainage System

      The best permanent fix for chronic basement leaks is to install drainage tubing below the basement floor that's connected to a sump basket and pump. You can install a system like this yourself, but breaking out the concrete floor, burying the tubing, and patching the floor is a lot of backbreaking work. Materials to do an average basement will cost $600 to $1,000. Expect to spend $3,000 to $8,000 for a professionally installed system in a standard-size basement.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (12)Family Handyman

      Seal the Rim Joists

      Uninsulated rim joists are huge energy losers. Now’s the time to insulate and seal them.

      Fortunately, insulating your rim joists is a fairly easy DIY project. One option is to seal the rim joists with rigid insulation cut to fit. We recommend a minimum of 2-in.-thick extruded polystyrene, but check your local codes to see what’s required. If you have a table saw, use it to cut strips equal to the depth of your joists. Then use a fine-tooth handsaw, utility knife or miter saw to cut the strips to length. Fill small gaps with caulk, and larger ones with expanding spray foam from a can.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (13)Family Handyman

      Install Drainage Mats for a Warmer, Drier Floor

      Plastic drainage mats, or dimple mats, allow air to circulate under the basement flooring and provide a moisture barrier. They also provide an insulating layer of air that separates the floor from cold concrete, reducing the potential for moisture damage from condensation or water vapor migrating through the concrete. A dirty basement means a dirty house. Clean your basement regularly to free your home from grunge, grime, and allergens.

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      Vary Your Lighting Choices

      For the most interesting space, include types of lighting in your plan. Start with good general illumination for times when you want a brightly lit room. Plan to add a dimmer switch to control the amount of light. Recessed can lights, ceiling fixtures and fluorescent “pillow” lights are a few types of general lighting. If you’re worried about noise traveling upstairs, don’t use recessed can lights.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (15)Family Handyman

      Warm Up Cold Floors With Heating Cables

      You can warm things up by installing electric heating cables or mats to your basement floor. This type of heat doesn’t warm the room much, but it makes floors much more comfortable. The downside is that heating cables are expensive to install and expensive to run. You can buy a loose cable system or mats with the cable attached. Loose cables are more work to install but cost less than mats. The more area you cover with cables or mats, the lower the cost per square foot. Here, find out the cost to waterproof your basement.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (16)Family Handyman

      Hire a Pro to Design Your HVAC System

      Don’t make the rookie DIY mistake of trying to heat your basement by cutting a hole in your main trunk line and screwing on a heat register. This will only create an imbalance in your entire heating system, and won’t provide the heat where you need it. Money spent on proper design is a good investment. Hire a professional heating contractor to design your ductwork. If you would like to do the work yourself, look for a heating contractor who will provide the plan and possibly even the materials.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (17)Family Handyman

      Frame Soffits With OSB

      Most basements have ducting or plumbing mounted below the joists that needs to be boxed in. The most common method is to build a wooden frame around them that can be covered with drywall. Here’s a pro tip for building these soffits. Rather than frame the sides with 2x2s or some other lumber, simply cut strips of plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) for the sides.

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      Cork Makes a Great Basement Floor Covering

      Choosing material for a basement floor is tricky. Carpet is warm and soft but susceptible to moisture damage. Tile is good for areas that might get wet, but it’s hard and cold underfoot. Still, there are a few choices that strike a good compromise, likecork flooring for your basement. Installing cork flooring is relatively easy to do, and it’s sustainably harvested and warm underfoot.

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      Consider Luxury Vinyl Tile Flooring

      Another good basement flooring choice is luxury vinyl planks or tile. Luxury vinyl is waterproof and virtually indestructible. It’s also easy to install and looks great. It’s available in a plank form that looks like wood, and squares that look like tile. Floating luxury vinyl floors connect with self-adhesive tabs or interlocking edges.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (20)Family Handyman

      Tips for a Quieter Ceiling

      To silence annoying noises from the floor above, consider adding fiberglass batts to the joist spaces. You can add a 3-1/2-in. layer, or better yet, fill the joist spaces with fiberglass. For even more noise reduction, isolate the ceiling drywall from the joists with resilient channels. Screw the channels to the joists, spacing them 12 or 16 in. apart (ask your building inspector what’s required). Then screw the drywall to the channels, being careful not to drive screws into the joists. This creates a “floating ceiling” that reduces sound transmission. You may have to visit a drywall supplier to find resilient channels.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (21)Family Handyman

      Seal Around Pipes and Wires

      Seal small cracks around pipes and wires with special “red” high-temperature silicone caulk. Fill larger openings with flame-resistant expanding foam. Close openings around chimney flues or other large openings by nailing sheet metal over them and sealing the edges with caulk. Sealing between the basement and upstairs will help prevent the spread of fire from the basement to upstairs. It will also save energy and prevent sound transfer from the basement to the upstairs.

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      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (22)Family Handyman

      Buy a Laser Level for Speedier Framing

      If you’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a laser level, this is it. Especially if you plan to stick-frame the walls—that is, build them in place rather than build them on the floor and stand them up. That’s because with stick-framing you have to transfer the location of the bottom wall plate to the ceiling. You can do this with a straightedge and a regular level. But a laser is so much faster!

      Start by marking the wall locations on the floor with a chalk line. Then simply line up the laser with the chalk line, and the laser beam will show the location of the top plate on the joists. You’ll need a laser that projects a vertical line. And we like the self-leveling type for better accuracy and faster setup.

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      Add a Gas Fireplace

      Consider installing a gas fireplace to your basement remodeling plans. In addition to the obvious benefit—everybody loves fireplaces—a fireplace can be a great source of extra heat to warm up a room fast on cold winter days. One advantage of gas fireplaces is that you may not need to run a chimney through the roof. In some situations, you can run the flue directly through the side wall.

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      Use Warm Colors

      Because they tend to be cool and lacking in natural light, warm tones are the best choice for basement paint colors. That will make your downstairs space feel cozier and more inviting.

      Originally Published: August 21, 2017

      23 Tips on How to Get Moisture Out of the Basement (2024)

      FAQs

      How do I get moisture out of my basement fast? ›

      You can air out the basement by opening windows and running fans to circulate the air. You can also try turning up the heat in the basement, as warmer air will prevent moisture from condensing on cool surfaces. Another solution is to use a dehumidifier in your basement.

      What absorbs moisture in basement? ›

      Get a Dehumidifier

      These amazingly helpful devices absorb the water vapor in your basement, preventing the moisture from causing damage and keeping your belongings safe.

      How do I get rid of moisture in my basement naturally? ›

      Condensation can be reduced by reducing humidity, increasing ventilation, insulating cold surfaces, and increasing the temperature of the room. Ventilation fans can also be used to control moisture in kitchens and bathrooms.

      Will a fan in the basement help reduce humidity? ›

      You will want to install an exhaust fan in your basement bathroom in order to help reduce high levels of humidity in the basement. An exhaust fan will help to remove the moisture from the home and it can improve the ventilation in the basement.

      How long does it take for a dehumidifier to dry in the basement? ›

      How long will it take to get the moisture under control? As long as the dehumidifier you choose is large enough for the area it is working in, and there are no specific damp problems, then a dehumidifier will normally reduce the humidity to the chosen level within a few days to a week.

      Does DampRid really work? ›

      Does DampRid work? Yes. CHOICE household products expert Chris Barnes says, "We put a DampRid container in a sealed test chamber about the size of a closet with 80% humidity and a fan for air movement. Within three days, DampRid reduced humidity to 43% and collected almost half a cup of water."

      How do you make a homemade dehumidifier? ›

      Rock salt is another great (and cheap) option for removing moisture from the air. To make a no frills rock salt dehumidifier, you're going to need rock salt and two buckets. Pop some holes in the first bucket and place it inside your second bucket. Next, fill the top bucket with salt and voila!

      Is DampRid better than a dehumidifier? ›

      The quick answer is that a dehumidifier works better in a large open area with a lot of air exchange, like an RV. And DampRid works better in a smaller closed off area with restricted airflow, like a closet in an RV.

      What can be used to absorb moisture? ›

      If solving your moisture problem is something you'd like to do inexpensively, rock salt may be your answer. Because rock salt is hygroscopic it absorbs moisture from the air. If your plan is to get rid of the humidity in a damp basement, start with a 50-pound bag of sodium chloride to make your rock salt dehumidifier.

      Does dehumidifier need to run all the time in basement? ›

      How Long To Run Your Dehumidifier? So to recap, run your dehumidifier unit for at least 12 hours a day. This is a good rule of thumb. Again, it's okay if you don't stick to this schedule every day, but be aware that the more your family runs your dehumidifier unit the fresher and cleaner it will be all year long.

      How do I circulate fresh air in my basement? ›

      Floor fans and a dehumidifier are additional options that may help keep a basement adequately ventilated. Another option is to install exhaust fans that connect to vents located throughout the basement. These fans can be permanently installed in windows or might require cutting through a basement wall to install.

      What happens if humidity is too high in basement? ›

      No matter if your basement is finished or unfinished, those humid conditions can encourage the growth of mold, mildew and other bacteria. To keep everyone in your home healthy, it's important to check regularly and keep your humidity at an acceptable level.

      Should you air out your basement? ›

      If your basement is humid and filled with stale air, natural ventilation is one solution for creating fresh airflow. This method reduces moisture and saves energy. Just open up your windows and doors to let in some fresh air.

      Should a dehumidifier run constantly? ›

      Should a Dehumidifier Run Constantly? No, your dehumidifier should not have to run constantly to regulate the air humidity. An optimal humidity level to shoot for is between 30 and 50 percent. Your dehumidifier should reach this in 8 to 12 hours.

      Where should I place my dehumidifier? ›

      You want to place your machine in an area where there is good air circulation so the unit can efficiently work. We do not recommend placing a dehumidifier directly against a wall or piece of furniture. Instead, put it at least six inches away from these vent-blocking surfaces.

      Can a dehumidifier take out too much moisture? ›

      It is unfortunately a common occurrence that a dehumidifier ends up drying out the air in a home so much that it creates a new set of problems, such as the easy spread of illnesses, cracked, dry skin, and problems with static electricity.

      How long does it take for DampRid to work in a basement? ›

      DampRid crystals work immediately to absorb excess moisture from the air. The crystals harden and form a solid mass. Then they begin to dissolve and liquid will begin to drip into the bottom chamber. It may take a few days before liquid begins to drip.

      What can I use instead of DampRid? ›

      Rock Salt. The most popular DIY dehumidifier is the one that works the best—rock salt. Rock salt naturally absorbs moisture out of the air, making it a great choice to use as a dehumidifier.

      Should I place DampRid high or low? ›

      The manufacturer says it is non-toxic and that if children or pets put it in their mouths, they won't swallow it, but will spit it out due to the bad taste. Just make sure that the container is located up high, out of the reach of children and pets.

      Does baking soda draw out moisture? ›

      The baking soda not only absorbs moisture, but it'll also absorb any nasty odours. As it soaks up moisture, baking soda cakes up, making it easy to remove after the fact – just go over your carpet with a vacuum once it's dry and you're set.

      Can you run vinegar through a dehumidifier? ›

      Take a spray bottle and mix one part vinegar with one part water. Spray the mixture in the dehumidifier tank. Allow the spray to sit for a while before wiping the tray down with a sponge, scrub brush, or even a toothbrush. Clean the filter and coils by cleaning the grille using a soft bristle brush.

      How long does it take for baking soda to absorb moisture? ›

      Well, it does! Baking soda is effective in drying wet carpet because it removes moisture. Sprinkling it over the carpet and allowing it to sit for a minimum of 30 minutes will deodorize and dry up your carpet.

      How long will DampRid last? ›

      The Moisture Absorber lasts up to 60 days depending on temperature and conditions.

      What is the main ingredient in DampRid? ›

      What is DampRid. DampRid is a product designed to remove moisture from the air, which helps prevent excessive humidity as well as mould and mildew. It consists of a non-toxic inorganic mineral salt called calcium chloride that naturally absorbs moisture from the air.

      Does DampRid get rid of mold and mildew? ›

      DampRid Fragrance Free Hanging Moisture Absorber attracts and traps excess moisture from the air, eliminating musty odors and inhibiting mold and mildew. DampRid's crystals absorb excess moisture out of the air to create optimal humidity.

      What is the best chemical to absorb moisture? ›

      Calcium Chloride has a much better performance when the relative humidity is high. Calcium chloride increases its capacity to absorb water over time because the absorption process makes the moisture dissolve into the calcium chloride.

      What should a basement dehumidifier be set at? ›

      The optimal relative humidity level is between 30 and 50 percent, according to Energy Star (and 30 to 40 percent in colder areas during heating season). If the humidity is higher than that, it can breed dust mites, mildew, and mold, and trigger allergies.

      Should I turn off my basement dehumidifier in the winter? ›

      If the temperature or humidity drops below the ideal level, you will want to turn the dehumidifier off. You never want the coils or water to freeze because it can cause lasting damage to the device.

      What is the best temperature for a dehumidifier in the basement? ›

      Ideal Dehumidifier Operating Temperatures. The ideal operating temperature for standard refrigerant dehumidifiers is between about 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and between 60% - 80% relative humidity.

      Can you finish a basement that has moisture? ›

      If you have a damp or wet basement, you have to fix it before you start any finishing work. The good news is that most water problems can be remedied by two measures: grading the soil to slope away from the foundation and adding or repairing gutters and downspouts.

      Is 70 humidity in basement too high? ›

      Yes, 70% humidity is too high for a basement. This humidity level can lead to mold, mildew growth, and condensation on walls and ceilings.

      How do you ventilate a basement? ›

      Floor fans and a dehumidifier are additional options that may help keep a basement adequately ventilated. Another option is to install exhaust fans that connect to vents located throughout the basement. These fans can be permanently installed in windows or might require cutting through a basement wall to install.

      Will a dehumidifier take moisture out of my basement? ›

      Similar to how a humidifier helps to add moisture, a dehumidifier can be especially useful in the basement, crawl space or bathroom–areas of your home that tend to have excessive moisture.

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