How to Keep Your Basement Dry Without a Dehumidifier

Last Updated on July 25, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas

To keep your basement dry without a dehumidifier, improve ventilation by opening windows and using fans. Fix any leaks and ensure proper drainage away from the foundation. Seal cracks and apply waterproof paint to walls. Use moisture-absorbent materials like charcoal or silica gel in enclosed spaces. Consider using a sump pump if needed.

How to Keep Your Basement Dry Without a Dehumidifier

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Proper InsulationInsulation helps maintain a stable temperature in the basement, preventing condensation. High-quality insulation will additionally limit the amount of moist air that can enter the basement.
Sealing Cracks and GapsSealing gaps and cracks in the walls, flooring, or foundation will prevent outside moisture from entering. It’s crucial to use water-resistant sealants and regularly inspect the basement for any new cracks.
Waterproofing Walls and FloorsApplying waterproofing coatings or sealants to the walls and floors will prevent seepage into the basement. This method also aids in resisting dampness and humidity.
Good VentilationMaintaining good ventilation in the basement is key. Proper airflow can help prevent a buildup of moisture in the enclosed space. Consider installing vents or exhaust fans.
Using DesiccantsDesiccants, like silica gel or baking soda, can absorb excess moisture in the air. Place these in various areas around the basement, especially in potential damp spots.
LandscapingImproving the drainage of the area around your home can be an effective way to keep your basement dry. This can include effective guttering to divert rainwater, a sloped landscape to move water away from your home, and deep-rooted plants to help absorb moisture.
Promptly Address Water LeaksRegularly inspect for any water leaks in the basement and if noticed, address promptly. Unattended leaks heighten the humidity level and can lead to water damage.

Effective methods of keeping a basement dry

Various methods are effective and available for homeowners to maintain a dry basement, including;

Using desiccants

Some substances (referred to as desiccants) help to get rid of moisture by absorbing it, and one can use them in their basement such as;

Charcoal briquettes

Charcoal is an effective desiccant that absorbs wetness and leaves a place dry. You can use it as follows;

  • Get a bowl and make some tiny holes at the bottom
  • Put some charcoal in the bowl and place it in a bucket
  • Place the bucket in the basement and leave it for hours, even days. The charcoal absorbs the moisture while the bucket collects the same. Be sure to replace this substance once it soaks up. 

Rock salt

Rock salt (also known as crystal salt) is also efficient in moisture absorption. Place some of this substance in a bowl and put it at a strategic point in your basement. Leave the salt for 2-3 weeks for optimum results. You may place more than one bowl of this salt if your basement is extensive. 

Silica gel

Silica gel comes in handy as a desiccant in your home. You can place these small packets around your basement to do the work. When the boxes absorb enough moisture, you can replace them as appropriate. 

Baking soda

Baking soda works in the same way as crystal salt when it comes to absorbing moisture. Place the substance in a bowl and put it in a location with a lot of water. Allow it to sit for 2-3 weeks before replacing it or until it has absorbed enough wetness. 

Using desiccant bags

Desiccant bags are available on Amazon and are similar to silica gel. Place the bags strategically in your basement, and be sure to replace them whenever necessary. 

Adequate ventilation and isolation

Ensure that there is enough ventilation and isolation in your basement by;

Installing fans

A basement fan may not be different from a dehumidifier, but it is an effective way of keeping your space dry. It is a cheaper alternative that you can install and run whenever there is a lot of dampness. Ensure that the gadget pushes out the moisture. 

Fixing vents

If you have a large basement in your home, installing a ventilation system can help rid your space of humidity. However, this method may not be cost-effective for a standard basement. 

Isolation walls

If the moisture problem in your basement is from outside, you may consider installing an isolation wall. This fixture will help to prevent the entry of humidity into your basement, hence keeping it dry. If, however, the problem emanates from the inside, such installation will not be helpful. 

Using moisture-absorbent plants

While most plants will increase the humidity level in the basement, a few help absorb it. They include peace lilies, cacti, and English ivy. You can talk to a florist to get the best options and which are effective. 

Leaving the windows open

Opening your windows is one cheap alternative that helps to get the moisture out. Though it is not always helpful as it may let in more wet air, be sure to do it if the air outside is dry.

Why Does a Basement Need to Be Kept Dry?

Basement maintenance is an essential part of homeownership, and one of the key activities to prioritize is ensuring that the basement remains dry. This proactive measure not merely safeguards the structural integrity of the edifice but also protects health and prevents unnecessary expenses. Below are seven reasons why a basement needs to be kept dry:

  1. Prevention of Structural Issues: A damp basement can result in the deterioration of the building’s foundation, which threatens the overall firmness and protection of the home. It’s thus imperative to keep the basement dry to maintain the structure’s integrity.
  2. Avoidance of Mold and Mildew Growth: Mold and mildew thrive in moist environments. By retaining a dry basement, homeowners avoid creating a breeding ground for these fungi, which can cause serious health problems.
  3. Maintaining Property Value: Homes with dry basements tend to have high property values. Water damage can significantly reduce the worth of a house, making it less desirable to potential buyers.
  4. Preventing Insect Infestation: Many insects, including cockroaches and termites, are attracted to moist and damp areas. By keeping the basement dry, homeowners can prevent insect infestation.
  5. Reducing Energy Costs: A damp basement can increase humidity levels in the house, leading to higher heating and cooling costs. Drying out the basement can help decrease these energy costs.
  6. Protecting Stored Items: Many people use their basements for storage. Keeping the space dry helps protect stored items from water damage and mold and mildew growth.
  7. Improving Indoor Air Quality: Damp basements can lead to poor indoor air quality as moisture promotes the growth of allergens like mold and mildew, and dust mites. Ensuring basements are dry helps improve indoor air quality, hence promoting healthier living conditions.

What causes humidity in your basement?

Humidity on surface

While there are many methods you can use to get rid of humidity in the basement, dealing with the source is the best solution. It is, therefore, crucial to know what causes this problem, and the main issues are;

Plumbing issues

Cracked or leaking pipes in your foundation can cause humidity problems. Inspect your basement for any leakage in the visible lines and check around the walls for any wet spots. If you notice any wetness, it could be a sign of cracked tubes. If there are problems with plumbing, you can call in a professional to fix them before drying your space. 

A sump basin

If the sump basin is smaller or larger than necessary, it could lead to humidity problems in the basement. A sump pump removes water and directs it where it should be, and there is a need to ensure that it is the right size for the basin. If you doubt your basin’s construction, call in an expert to fix the problem. 

Check to confirm that there are no issues with the sump pump since a bit of fault will affect its functionality. A faulty pump, for example, a non-functional float switch, may make the device not pump as much water as it should, and this may lead to the release of moisture. You can also place a cover for the pump to prevent moisture from the still water in the basin. 

A bathroom that is constructed above your basement.

If your bathroom is constructed above the basement, it could be a cause of dampness. Check for any cracked tiles in the shower room, as this could be an entry point for water into the basement ceiling. If there is some water leaking, it will eventually lead to moisture build-up. 

Look also for any broken wax seal rings, as these can also be the source of water leakage. 

Damp air from outside

If your home is located in a hot, humid area, it may be difficult for the basement and other rooms to remain dry. It may also be challenging to do without a dehumidifier in such regions, and sealing your basement can help. You may not also keep the windows closed throughout all summer. 

Plants in the basement

Having plants in or near the basement may also be a significant cause of wetness. These plants release moisture, and if your space has no proper ventilation, it will lead to accumulation. While a few plants may be okay, having a collection of them will cause dampness. 

How to prevent moisture in your basement

Moisture on Basement

A basement is an excellent addition to any home as it acts as an extra living and storage space. However, a damp foundation produces a musty smell in the house, and it can cause mold problems. While there are several methods to remove this dampness, prevention is always better.

Below are easy and efficient ways of preventing moisture in your basement;

Fixing settlement cracks

Sometimes cracks may develop on finished walls, especially in the newly applied concrete. Such settlement cracks will allow moisture to seep through when the snow melts or when it rains. It is easy to fix settlement flaws without any professional help. Here’s how to do it;

  • You require a mallet, a putty knife, a cold chisel, and patching cement
  • Start by beveling the crack and widening it slightly using the mallet and cold chisel 
  • Once you are done preparing the gap, apply the sealant or patching cement. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product’s label.
  • Use the putty knife’s blade to push the cement into the crack as it dries, and continue applying more on the surface. 
  • Smooth the surface with the knife and create a precise repair. Doing this will prevent the entry of moisture into your space. 

Using rain barrel

The installation of a rain barrel to catch rainwater that may get into your basement is another great way to prevent wetness. You can buy a plastic trashcan with an air-tight lid and cut the downspout at a suitable level. Cut a cover spot to fit the downspout and seal the rain barrel to prevent debris and insects. Siphon any water that accumulates and use it for watering plants. 

Waterproofing the basement walls

You can dig trenches around basement walls and cover the walls using waterproof materials. Doing this will help alleviate moisture from the inside. If the moisture issue is not extensive, digging a trench around the basement may not be necessary. Purchase waterproofing paint from your local improvement store, as this will seal away odors and minimize moisture in the foundation. 

Minimize condensation

Drainage pipes in the basement can cause a considerable amount of condensation. This condensation seeps on the floors and into the wall piping, causing mildew and mold problems. You can cover the tubes with insulation foam to prevent such issues. Insulation foam is not only easy to install but also inexpensive and a great way to avoid moisture. 

Extending downspouts

A home’s roof is one of the primary sources of dampness in the basement. Water runs off the top when ice and snow melt or when it rains. This water gets into downspouts and eaves troughs and may eventually leak into the foundation if there are some tiny cracks or through window frames. 

Extending downspouts about 6 feet from home will help divert the water. It will also reduce the amount of liquid reaching the foundation hence eliminating dampness. 


Excess moisture in the basement causes mildew and mold problems and will also cause a musty smell. Although a dehumidifier is an efficient way to keep the basement dry, it impacts significantly your electricity bill and is therefore costly to run. Alternative methods are available and easy to use to ensure a moisture-free and healthy environment.