If you’ve recently bought a new home, you may have noticed the basement feels and smells less than hospitable. There’s nothing quite so unappealing as the smell of a damp basement, particularly when you have dreamed of finishing the basement to put in a bar and game room.
Maybe you’ve lived in the same home for years but have experienced recent flooding due to storms or an appliance breaking down, and now your basement is musty, and you’ve spotted some black mold on your walls.
In these situations, people are generally confused as to how to tackle their damp basement. Should they use an air purifier or a dehumidifier? Which makes the most sense?
Well the answer is, you’ll need both to get your basement dry and free from mold and other pollutants. Let’s dive in deeper to see exactly how air purifiers and dehumidifiers work to help you resolve your basement issues.
What Does a Dehumidifier Do?
You’ve no doubt enjoyed the cool and refreshing air your air conditioner gives you each summer, whether your AC is part of your HVAC system or is a single window unit. Air conditioners make the air in your home nicer not just by cooling the air, but also by pulling the moisture out of the air.
While a dehumidifier doesn’t cool the air in your home, it draws out the excess moisture helping to control the spread of mold and mildew. Depending on where in the country you live, you may deal with very humid weather and often. States like Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana, to name a few, are often hit with a high humidity index. If left unchecked, the high moisture levels can wreak havoc on residents’ homes. Mold and mildew not only make a home smell horrible, they can be downright dangerous for your health.
If your basement is currently experiencing excess moisture from the weather, or recent flooding from a storm or appliance breakdown, you’ll want to run a dehumidifier in the space around the clock to draw that moisture out of the air. You’re aim is to keep humidity levels at around 40%.
If your moisture problem has been going on for some time and you smell or, even worse, see mold and mildew, then you will need to also run and air purifier. Keep reading to find out why.
What Does an Air Purifier Do?
While a dehumidifier draws moisture out of the air, an air purifier traps harmful pollutants in the air such as bacteria, dust, pollen, dander and mold spores. As I mentioned a bit earlier, mold can be very dangerous to your health. How dangerous?
Breathing in mold spores can result in both short- and long-term health complications. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have also found that people with mold sensitivity can experience upper respiratory symptoms, increased asthma symptoms and even skin irritation when exposed to mold and mold spores for any length of time. Breathing in mold spores can also cause nasal irritation, eye allergies, and coughing.
But long-term exposure can lead to more serious health risks including:
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis/pulmonary fibrosis
- Pulmonary injury/hemosiderosis (bleeding)
- Hematologic and immunologic disorders
- Hepatic, endocrine and/or renal toxicities
- Pregnancy, gastrointestinal and/or cardiac conditions
What’s also important to understand is how mold spores travel. Mold spores are very similar to tree and flower pollen in that they can simply float from one area of your home to another on the slightest air draft. This means mold can spread from your basement all over your home very quickly.
An air purifier is necessary to trap these mold spores before they can spread. Air purifiers use true HEPA filters to trap mold spores and other contaminants. As long as you follow the manufacturer’s directions and change the filter as often as necessary, you can feel peace of mind that the air purifier is pulling mold spores out of the air so you and your family do not breathe them in.
Air Purifier Vs Dehumidifier for Your Basement – Which is Better?
If you have a moisture issue in your basement, you will absolutely need both a dehumidifier and an air purifier. A dehumidifier will help you get the excess moisture out of the air, while an air purifier will help to trap the mold spores that may already be present.
You will also need to remediate the black mold issue you may have. If you can visibly see black mold in your basement you will need to clean that up, or hire a crew to handle the job for you.
During this cleanup process it is extremely important to have an air purifier running continuously. This is because the very act of removing mold from your home will dislodge mold spores and send them into the air, where they will float from room to room.
Selecting the Right Air Purifier for the Job
To make sure you buy the right air purifier to help you in your damp basement, you’ll need to focus on two things:
1) Make sure the unit you purchase comes with a true HEPA filtration system. Some units are designed to handle particulate matter, such as mold spores, bacteria, pet dander and pollen, while other units are designed to handle gaseous matter, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
You’ll need a unit that comes with a HEPA filtration system to remove mold spores from the air.
2) You’ll also need to purchase a unit that is big enough to handle the space. Everyone’s basement is a different square footage, so measure yours and buy a unit that has been designed with that square footage in mind.
Going back to our air conditioner example, certain BTUs can handle certain spaces efficiently. The same goes for air purifiers. If your basement is 650 square feet, don’t buy a unit that is only built to effectively handle a small bedroom of roughly 250 square feet.
Have Any Questions?
Please feel free to reach out to us with any other questions you may have. We don’t think we’re in the business of selling air purifiers, we like to think we are in the business of helping families breathe easier.