When To Run A Dehumidifier In The Basement? [And How Often]

Dehumidifiers are effective devices that help maintain a clean and healthy environment. However, you may be new to this extractor, and you may be wondering when and how often should you run your unit. To provide answers to your questions, we've consulted the experts, and here's what they have to say.

To efficiently dehumidify your basement, you'll most likely need to operate your unit during summer, late spring, and early fall. You should also run your dehumidifier for 12-24 hours a day depending on your basement's condition and humidity levels.

Given that the basement is prone to moisture, they tend to be damp and even accumulate mold and condensation on its walls and windows. Continue reading to learn how to resolve these problems with accurate timing and the frequency of operating your dehumidifier.

A small dehumidifier placed on the center of the living room, When To Run A Dehumidifier In The Basement? [And How Often]

The Best Season To Run A Dehumidifier

Depending on your climate and location, you might need to run your unit in the late spring, summer, and early fall wherein the temperatures are warmer with higher humidity levels. But regardless of the season, you will need to plug in your dehumidifier once your basement's relative humidity is higher than the recommended level.


In the summer, humidity levels are higher. Humidity is always associated with hot weather, for warmer temperatures can hold more moisture compared to colder temperatures. This explains that the summer season will typically need the dehumidifier the most.

Late Spring

Spring is the rainiest season in the Northern Hemisphere. As the air gets warmer during this season, the humidity levels will also increase because of evaporation.

You will usually need to operate your dehumidifier unit in the late spring because this late stage won't make much of a difference to the coming summer.

Early Fall

A small white dehumidifier in the center of the bathroom

In terms of the early fall, its temperature is still a bit warm given that this season follows the hot summertime. Thus, you may also need a dehumidifier in the early stages of autumn.

AHAM Medium Estimate of Monthly Operating Hours

The American Household Appliance Manufacturers' table below shows the estimated monthly operating hours of a dehumidifier in the Northern Hemisphere as suggested by DOE or the US Department of Energy.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Operating Hours 0 0 0 14 86 231 288 288 130 58 0 0

As shown in the table above, the longest dehumidifier operation occurs during the summer months (June-August), which accounts for 73.5 percent of the yearly operating hours.

The remaining operating time is during mid and late spring (April-May), early and mid-fall (September- October), making up 26.5 percent of dehumidifier operating hours per year.

Can I Run A Dehumidifier During Winter?

It's not advisable to run a dehumidifier during the wintertime. In this season, the air in your house is usually dry, meaning it's not necessary to operate the unit. Its low temperatures can even damage the appliance itself. It's recommended that you should unplug your unit once the cold weather approaches.

Some experts say that it's okay to operate your unit as long as you consider these factors:

Relative Humidity Levels

You will only need to use a dehumidifier in your basement during winter if it maintains a high humidity level. To keep watch of the relative humidity, you can hang a hygrometer on your wall. This can serve as a thermometer, measuring your room's humidity levels from time to time.

Some models also have a built-in humidistat. Once the humidity levels are above 50 percent, running a dehumidifier would be a convenient way to prevent mold growth.

Monitoring Your Device

To avoid lasting damage to your unit, it's important to meticulously monitor its operation and your basement's temperature and humidity. When your room's humidity level drops and the temperature gets dangerously low, you will need to turn off the dehumidifier.

Furthermore, some models have an automatic humidity threshold. Set at least a 30 percent threshold, the device will automatically turn off when the humidity levels reach this certain percentage.

If your basement has constantly high humidity levels in the winter and the temperature is too cold to safely operate a dehumidifier, it's better to use an electric heater as a substitute. An electric heater is not as efficient as a dehumidifier, but it can still remove some of the water vapor while making your room warmer.

At What Temperature Should You Not Run A Dehumidifier?

A white dehumidifier placed next to the couch and plant

As a general rule of thumb, you should not run a dehumidifier in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit since the moisture absorbed from the air can freeze once it condenses on the cooling coils, which can damage the humidity extractor.

Most dehumidifiers work best in warm temperatures while it decreases their efficiency as the temperature gets cooler. When the temperature decreases to around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, it's advisable to unplug your unit and store it away especially in times of the winter cold months.

Nonetheless, some dehumidifiers are designed for colder temperatures. For example, an EDV-4000 Rotary Desiccant Dehumidifier can work at 34 degrees Fahrenheit and has a turbo setting for winter. This type of unit is more appropriate for the winter season.

To keep track of your basement's temperature and humidity levels, you use a hygrometer to come up with accurate measurements.

Click here to see this hygrometer on Amazon.

To learn more about basements and temperature, check this post: What Is The Ideal Temperature For A Basement?

How Often Should You Run Your Dehumidifier?

The golden rule is to run your dehumidifier 12 hours a day. But you can operate it as often as possible in order to maintain a comfortable basement with ideal humidity levels.

You don't have to strictly stick to this rule, yet you should keep in mind that the more you run this humidity extractor in your basement, the fresher and cleaner your indoor air will be.

Although the best decision is to run your dehumidifier 24 hours daily, that could result in a bit of increase in your electric bills, and may possibly make you go over your budget. The good thing is you can reduce the recommended operation time depending on your basement's condition and relative humidity levels.

Refer to the table below to find out the appropriate operation time for your dehumidifier:

Basement's Condition and Humidity Levels Operation Time
High humidity with poor air circulation 24 hours per day
Moderate humidity levels 12-16 hours per day, and no longer than 18 hours
Low humidity with good air circulation at least once a week
High-temperature climates or during very humid times of the year turn on when needed (for 12-16 hours)
Has high humidity levels but is well ventilated run the unit half of the time
Low-temperature climates / very dry times of the year turn on when needed (for 12 hours)

The bottom line is that it's important to be observant of your basement's condition and humidity levels. You should also consider the season and your climate in order to have an effective and convenient dehumidifying experience.

How Often Should You Have To Dump Your Dehumidifier?

Generally, you may need to dump your tank's water once every two days to twice a day, depending on certain factors. These indicating factors include your dehumidifier’s absorption capacity and working mode, your room size, your environment’s humidity, temperature, and how long you have used the unit.

Do Dehumidifiers Run Up Your Electric Bill?

Dehumidifiers are not too expensive to run. Mini dehumidifiers may only cost $25 a year. However, a larger unit means a larger cost to your electric bill. A dehumidifier of 70 pints or more can reach $350 a year (approximately $30 per month).

These estimated costs may vary, depending on your unit's model, wattage, and hours of usage. To come up with the exact amount, you can do some simple calculations or use an online calculator.

If you want to consume less energy, you might as well stick with energy-efficient units. These models are rated by Energy Star, which means they have less energy consumption up to 20 percent. The good news is these Energy Star-rated dehumidifiers' initial prices are the same as the regular models.

Click here to see this Shinco Energy Star Dehumidifier on Amazon.

Click here to see this Vremi 35 Pint Dehumidifier (Energy Star Rated) on Amazon.

Where Is The Best Place To Put A Dehumidifier?

The best place to put a dehumidifier is a room with high humidity levels. Dehumidifiers are usually placed in bathrooms, crawl spaces, laundry rooms, kitchens, and basements since these areas are prone to moisture and mold growth.

The general rule is to place this humidity extractor in the center of the room or area. The standard manufacturer recommendation is that the dehumidifier's placement should at least have 6 inches of distance from walls and other structures that may block the airflow in and out of the dehumidifier.

However, this rule only applies to large rooms or basements. For small rooms, the specific placement is not as crucial since there is less space to cover.

Also note that dehumidifiers should be at safe distance from water sources and other electronic appliances (particularly in the bathroom, laundry room, etc). The device absorbs water from the air, so placing it too near to an outlet may lead to electrocution.

In Closing

A small dehumidifier placed on the center of the living room

To efficiently dehumidify your basement, it's crucial to run a dehumidifier at the right time and frequency. It's also important to place it at a convenient location while monitoring its operation, your room's humidity, and temperature.

Having an appropriate size dehumidifier for your room will also help the appliance to reach its full potential. Lastly, fixing your basement's ventilation and structural problems will also contribute in effectively eliminating unwanted moisture in your basement.

To learn more about basements and dehumidifiers, check this posts before you go:

What Size Dehumidifier For A Basement?

Does A Basement Ceiling Need A Vapor Barrier?

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