It’s easy for anyone to just turn the dehumidifier on and stay comfortable. But, you landed here to know the alternative. – I get it…
The easiest alternative I would suggest is to find the source of humidity and fix it. That’s the easiest, cheapest and best. You can follow through with improving air flow, sucking the moisture and drying up the air.
That’s the basic idea, but how do we execute on those. I have a lot more ideas in this post, so just keep reading…
I don’t have to tell you this; you probably know this already.
Humidity above normal level promotes mold and mildew growth.
Running a dehumidifier is great for your health and structure, but…
…very stressful on your wallet. I get it.
What I suggest is this:
Have your dehumidifier nice and tight, but do all the alternative ideas ( as practical) so your dehumidifier never runs.
So, in essence, your dehumidifier is just a backup – just in case, if your humidity shoots up.
Isn’t that a great idea?
I am sure you like it. Let’s explore all the alternatives.
Easy signs to identify if your home is humid
If you have a hygrometer, the job is super easy. You will know it with the % indicated on it.
However, if you don’t have one look for signs of condensation on walls and windows.
Look for watermark and run-off tracks especially around areas where warm air meets cold surfaces – such as window sills.
If that was the condition you were living, I am pretty sure there is some mold growth somewhere in the house.
You should start to smell the musty odor and feel dampness. In the worst cases, you will start to have allergic reactions if mold activity is beyond normal levels.
In any case, humidistats (A.K.A. Hygrometer) isn’t a bad idea to check for an accurate reading.
Why is my house so humid and what are the causes of high humidity?
There are several reasons. First and the most obvious is that you are in a very humid climate.
The volume of vapor in the warmer air is much more than colder air. So generally summer months are humid.
Since the outside air gets in many ways, you will see more humid air in the summer months.
Oversized Air Conditioner
Believe it or not, if you have an oversize AC unit, you are going to experience humidity.
Even though you may think you AC is too powerful, it hurts than helps.
You AC running shorter cycles and cools your home very fast. In turn not letting your HVAC units dehumidify property.
Just in case if you didn’t know, dehumidifying is also your AC unit’s function.
Poor Ventilation and Insulation
Have you ever noticed mold growth in bathrooms?
Right, because your steam shower puts so much moisture in the air and there is no way to get out.
Same is true for a poorly ventilated laundry room. And when your bathroom or laundry door is open, you are just making the humidity level of your whole house go up.
Insulation is so important. If you have a poorly insulated wall and it’s getting outside humid air in, it will directly affect the humidity level of the room.
Your Basement is Not Sealed
Crawlspace dirt is going to be moist and increase the humidity level.
So, you have a basement and not a crawlspace? Fine…
I am pretty sure your basement concrete floors are breathing vapor inside your basement space.
Unless you filled all the cracks and sealed the floor.
Even then you are not sure of the concrete or cinder block walls. Walls are porous and if not insulated with a vapor barrier type of material, you will see the heightened humidity
Plants and Wet Wood indoor
If you are a plant lover and keep and water a lot of plants indoors, remember that they will breathe.
What do you think happens after you water the plants?
That’s right! They suck up all the water from the soil and…
…when they exhale (so to speak) they will leave out a lot of moisture in the air.
Note: Don’t skip the last section, where I will tell you how to grow the plant indoors and still not humidity issues
Same is true for wet wood or basically any that has moisture kept indoors. Your indoor air, when it becomes dry, will suck the moisture out.
How to Dehumidify a Room Without Electricity?
The best way ( in fact the only way ) to dehumidify is to use any material that absorbs and retains moisture (i.e. A Desiccant).
In fact, you should plan and vent any vapor out. So, install a good bathroom fan and vent it outside.
Sample applies to your laundry room.
Keep all the doors close, ventilate well. And then get the desiccant, so you put less stress on it.
Silica gel is a good one, that absorbs moisture from the air.
All you have to do is buy them, open the container or bag and leave them open in a place where it can absorb moisture from the air.
It acts much like a sponge. Sponge sucks and retains the water.
Instead, a desiccant absorbs moisture and vapor from the air, leaving you with dryer air.
Manufacturers produce absorbent dehumidifier. Basically, they use desiccant such as silica gel to absorb the water and they find a way to suck the water into a container for disposal.
How to Get Rid of Humidity in the Basement Without Dehumidifier?
I have been asked “how to reduce humidity without dehumidifier” and “how to dehumidify a room without a dehumidifier” etc.
This section applies equally to all variations of this question.
1. Airflow to reduce humidity:
Be mindful of relative humidity and know when the outside humidity level is lesser than indoors.
When outdoor humidity is less, you can open two windows and run a fan near one window.
This automatically pushes the indoor air outside. In turn, drawing a relatively dryer air indoor.
2. Crystal Salt as Desiccant to Absorb the Moisture:
Like I mentioned in the above section, use desiccant to absorb moisture from the air
In fact, using crystal salt (calcium chloride, A.K.A. Rock Salt) in your basement will help in sucking the moisture out of the air.
All you do is dump the water and refill the container with more crystal salt. They are not expensive if you buy in bulk.
3. Charcoal as Desiccant to Absorb the Moisture:
Charcoal briquettes is a magical one. Especially when getting fresh charcoal out of an opened kiln it will do wonders.
Why? Because it’s fresh and doesn’t have any moisture in it. So, it can absorb all it can.
Read here for more in-depth analysis of Charcoal Efficiency.
4. Silica gel as Desiccant to Control Humidity
I have touched upon this earlier. This is not a friendly chemical, so please use caution when using it.
Keep them out of reach of children and pets.
Just get silica gel bags and leave it in humid spots and your basement. It will do its part well.
Now silica gel or calcium chloride is excellent in absorbing, but how to extract the water? This article on how to build you home dehumidifer goes in depth on the setup
5. Install Fan and Proper ventilation
Covered earlier. Make sure to vent steam and vapor outside.
This is a one-time investment and will keep you cozy.
6. Line Dry Clothes Outdoors ( In Sun ) :
Don’t complain you are in the northeast US. I live there and don’t prefer the cold weather.
But, I get a good 6 to 8 months, depending on where you live, to line dry outside.
This is good for multiple reasons. One obviously, you will not be drying indoors and so helps with the humidity issue.
Since you will be line drying, your dryer will not be used for a good 6 months.
That cuts electricity in half for the year and doubles the life.
Ayurveda tells drying anything in direct sun is good. It is one form of sterilization.
7. Keep Air Conditioner on At All Times:
Figure out at a temperature that makes you comfortable and set your AC to run consistently.
If you have a right-sized AC it is going to have a decent cycle time.
Which makes it run regularly and dehumidify your house and basement.
8. Cold Shower:
I hate to tell you not to take a shower… that’s just mean.
So, I am going to ask you not to take a hot one, instead.
A better way to cut your moisture issue in bathrooms is to not take a hot shower.
Really, it’s that easy.
Turn your shower where it’s not super cold, but just starting to be comfortable, you will do fine.
If you want a hot shower, then make it quick. Or make it progressively colder, or a combination thereof.
9. Close Cooking Pan While on Stove:
Always close the cooking pot and pan while on the stove. Any moisture will be trapped on the lid.
When you open the lid, you will start to see condensation under the lid.
This way you can easily dump the water directly in the sink.
You can also keep the vent hood turned on while cooking. So any vapor that escapes the pan will be pushed out.
Be disciplined with both these suggestions (while cooking) and you will greatly reduce the moisture from the kitchen.
10. Controlling Air-infiltration From the Outside (Fill Cracks and Seal)
Often, this is an afterthought when you don’t know how to combat moisture issue in the basement.
In fact, this is the first item on my list when tackling humidity related issue.
I look for any cracks in the wall and try to patch it. Look for signs of water trial.
Or even rust marks on concrete, that tells you to have a leaky spot.
Even if you don’t have water leaking, cracks can let in humid outside air. When that air enters a colder room (upon condensation) create a lot of issues.
11. Move indoor plants outdoors (weather permitting)
We have covered this topic earlier, so I am not going to repeat it.
Plants leave moisture out. So, keeping it indoors is not a great idea.
When conditions are right for your plants to thrive, leave them out. Just move them in late fall, and you will do just fine.
Natural dehumidifier baking soda
If you have baking soda lying around, please open the box and leave them in humid locations.
All you do is fill in several bowls and place them around the house. Check every few days.
It will absorb moisture and start to cake. That when you need to replace the bowl with fresh baking soda.
Don’t throw the one that just caked. Preserve, as you can use it for other cleaning projects.
I was initially thinking of putting this one with the list above, however, it needs a special mention.
When you have moisture, discomfort is a problem. However, the bigger chronic issue would be Mold.
Of course, there are several ways to kill and eliminate mold.
What if you don’t see any visible mold, but….
….start to smell dampness and musty odor?
That’s when you use baking soda.
Baking soda helps to reduce indoor humidity and get rid of the musty odor too.
How to reduce humidity in the house in summer?
Air is like a sponge. (Just play along, and you will get it)
You know that object expands with heat and shrinks when cold.
And, that applies here. Air expands with heat and shrinks when cold.
Combine the two. When air is expanded, it becomes a bigger sponge and smaller when cold.
Now, sponge sucks water… but in this case, it’s air. So, it sucks moisture, instead.
In warmer temperature sponge becomes bigger and so a bigger sponge can suck more moisture. In winter, much less.
All the dehumidifying how-to ideas will apply here. With the basics behind humidity let me provide additional tips here.
- Keep your doors closed – so you don’t invite warm humid air indoors
- Try not to add moisture – like drying clothes outside, moving plants outdoors etc.
- And follow up with other dehumidifying ideas above
The combined effect is going to make you feel nice and dry.
How to reduce humidity in a room naturally using plants?
You read it right.
I did mention using plants indoors.
Am I contradicting? Not really.
What I mentioned earlier was a general statement. About plants in general – 98% of them out there.
I am about to tell you very specific kind of plants that will suck the moisture out (instead of dumping) of the air.
What are those?
Well, mostly they are the kind of plants that survive and thrive in harsh dry weather conditions.
The kind of plants that grow in sunny deserts. They know how to live without water and how to protect the absorbed water from evaporating.
Want to know the names of those plants? Ready…
Here they are.
- English Ivy
- Reed Palm
- Boston Fern
- Peace Lily
- Spider Plant
Amazing, isn’t it.
These are hardy plants. Some need no soil, they can just hang in the air and survive.
Some, you can put between rocks and they will grow fine.
They all look different. And, a lot of them are super beautiful decorative plants.
But all these plants have one thing in common.
They suck the moisture out of the air and hold on to it.
Not only that:
Some of these plants are natural air purifiers too.
Enjoy the cool look and dryer air.
I am going to give you a though-process to combat humidity.
You need to do a few things – individually or combined.
What are they?
- Stop or reduce adding moisture to the air
- Remove moisture from the air
- Control and seal all the moisture intrusion pathways
All that I have suggested so far falls into one of these three categories.
Be mindful of air and temperature and how it relates to humidity.
And think of everything from the above pointers so you know what to do in each situation.