Dehumidifying basement
August 13, 2005 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Question on dehumidifying your basement, actually my basement, specifically re: getting rid of the water.

My disgusting basement is exceedingly damp and has devil pentagrams and "Janes Addiction" spraypainted on the walls from the previous owners. The latter is just "colorful detail." About the former, I set up a dehumidifier but it's generating a ton of H20 and I neither want to nor am able to get down there and lug the water bucket upstairs as often as I need to. (There's no drain in the basement.) If I attached a garden hose to the DH bucket (there's a spigot on it for this purpose) and found some kind of little electric pump at the hardware store, is it feasible to pump the water up about six feet to the basement windows and run it outside the house? Would the pump required to do this be really really noisy? Should I put the DH on a table, have it drain down into a really big plastic tub, and attach a sump pump to that tub to get the water out? Should I go a step further and break up concrete and dig a proper sump hole, add pump, and have the DH drain into that?

PS the basement floor (concrete slab) seems always damp, I guess that's where the humidity is coming from (high water table). I can't afford to do much more this year, though I realize the proper fix is french drains and/or better grading and drainage outside. That's for next year. I need to dry that sucker out now, though.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there a garden faucet just outside the window?
They used to make a thing that hooked up to the faucet for draining water beds. You turn on the faucet, and the water flowing past generates a vacuum, which pulled the water out of the bed through a garden hose and dumped it down the sink drain.
Maybe if the DH was up on a table, you might get enough suction to lift it a few feet out the window.
The right answer is going to involve a sump pump, but you know that.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 8:38 AM on August 13, 2005

I feel your pain.

As for next year, depending on how successful your cure is- I can't vouch for Humidex, but it sounds interesting. American branch here.

Anyone know anything more about it? How about floor paints formulated to keep out water?
posted by IndigoJones at 8:56 AM on August 13, 2005

I like the large bucket that is then pumped out to the yard. It gives you a little backup if the pump fails. Especially if you place THAT inside an even larger bucket. Are you *sure* there is no drain in the basement, even a sink or something? If so, you'd just need to get the DH higher than that to let gravity do its thing. You can probably get by with a 1/2 HP or 1 HP pump from RIDGID or Flotec, which can be had for about $150 at Home Depot. There are cool new things out there like the "Basement Watchdog" (or something like that) that give you battery backup and an alarm. And new light duty sump pumps don't make enough noise that you'd hear them from the basement, though personally I'd want to know that thing was running when I was sitting upstairs.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:59 AM on August 13, 2005

Your basement is hexed. I recommend an exorcism, stat.

A cheapie sump pump placed into the basin of the dehumidifier should do the trick. Six feet on the outlet is nothing. The only problem with pumps is the distance to their inlet. Don't put a pump substantially above the water. A sump pump will sit in the water and turn itself on and off automatically. It would be best it actually drains some distance, six to ten feet say, from the house so the water doesn't just seep back toward the basement.
posted by caddis at 9:07 AM on August 13, 2005

A sump is going to help dry things out beyond what the dehumidifier does, so this is not a bad plan at all. Your profile doesn't indicate where in the world you are, so I can't consider your climate. BUT if you're lucky, the dehumidifier may get less busy as the basement and air both dry out.

Any air circulation you can add will also help, as long as the outside air gets dryer than the basement air. If possible, you may want to put some fans in a window to get circulation going.
posted by Goofyy at 9:17 AM on August 13, 2005

On my wife's usual forum hangouts, DH means "dear husband", so your post made me chuckle a bit.

If the concrete is always damp, you have a BAD drainage problem that's bigger than just pumping some water out of the air. Check to be sure that the ground slopes away from your house all around, install extensions (cheapie PVC tubes, even) on your downspouts, and strongly consider having a sump pump installed.

The problem with basement damage is that your entire house is sitting on top of it, making repairs difficult and expensive if the concrete is starting to crumble or crack, or if the moisture affects the first floor's joists. What's worse, you are required by law to disclose to any potential buyers if/when you sell the place that the basement has a water problem.

If the previous owners DIDN'T disclose this (in writing) to you, you may be entitled to compensation.
posted by Merdryn at 9:39 AM on August 13, 2005

I had a similar problem in my basement, though not as bad. Every summer it just got damp and clammy, to the point of my leather toolbelt started getting moldy.

I got a dehumidifier, but wasn't hardcore about emptying the bucket as well. It would fill in about 3 hours, I'd remember to empty every 2 days. Not optimal...

I considered a big pail and a sump pump, but the guy at the plumbing store gave me a better idea.

I installed one of these, basically a pump in a 10 gallon plastic box, and put a laundry sink over it. I always wanted a sink next to the washer. Now I put the dehumidifier on the dryer, it drains into the sink, which pumps into the washer drain. Works great, the whole setup cost about $250.
posted by Marky at 11:12 AM on August 13, 2005

You need a condensate pump. These are designed for central air, which generates a lot more water than a dehumidifier. I have an 1850 house, the basement has no drain, so the water from the A/C runs down a half inch plastic pipe into the bottom tray (see the holes in the tray cover). There's a float that turns on the pump when the tray is half full. It uses clear plastic tubing, and pumps upstairs to a drain. I originally had a cheap version of this, with a 1 inch deep tray, that didn't work very well.

It's quiet, and only takes a few seconds to lower the tray's water level back down.

Occasionally, mix a small amount of bleach in a half gallon of water, and run it thru the pump if the tubing gets stuff growing in it.
posted by jjj606 at 1:28 PM on August 13, 2005

Merdryn has a good point about drainage. Grading the ground level away from the house, even an inch or two, can make a big difference.
posted by jjj606 at 1:34 PM on August 13, 2005

Cheap sump pumps advertised at Harbor Freight Tools.

Other than that I have no information for you.
posted by sol at 2:18 PM on August 13, 2005

Our washer and dryer are in the basement. I dump the dehumidifier into the washer and run the final 30 seconds of the spin cycle, which banishes it from the house. I've considered a pump to run it right into the outlet, but haven't gotten off my ass to do it.

What has made a huge difference in water in the basement was installing gutters and installing conduits to run the downspout runoff way away from the foundation.
posted by plinth at 5:58 PM on August 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

I know you said this is only for one year, but I will offer this anyway...

You are fighting a losing battle trying to use electricity to pull water out of a badly drained basement. For one year it is okay, if it works - you might have a lot more water than a dehumidifier can deal with. The cost of fixing the problem properly will soon pay for itself in reduced electricity bills.

Running a dehumidifier might take 750W. For 24hrs/day and 4months (summer only) you are using 2160 kWh. That could be anywhere from $100 to more than $200 per year. You will also find that the basement will become considerably hotter - the 750W of electricity is turning into heat. If you have central air you will be running it quite a bit harder to account for this, which is even more money.

Of course many basements are damp because they are cool and the summer is humid. I don't know if that is your problem, if it is I guess dehumidification might be the only solution.
posted by Chuckles at 6:42 PM on August 13, 2005

I'd go for the sump pump for now, but as others have said
you have got to address the bigger problem of what is
causing all the water. I have a sump pump and don't have
any problems now.

I know this sounds weird but have you checked your rain
gutters lately? If they are clogged with debris it causes
water to run down the house and eventually end up in the
basement. If you don't have gutters installing them may be the solution to your problem entirely.
posted by bat at 8:08 PM on August 13, 2005

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