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  1. #1

    Humid Basement 1918 Catalog Home

    I live Arlington, VA in a 1918 “catalog” home. Arlington gets pretty humid in the summertime and our finished basement becomes pretty much unusable. (We have the AC unit serviced each year and it is still OK.) Plus we see some mold growth around the vents in the Summer and the air quality is not up to par.


    • 1200 Sq feet including 2 main levels and a finished basement.
    • A previous owner “dug out” the basement foundation so the ceiling is high enough to use.
    • There is still exposed earth under the basement stairs which I have covered w/a layer of thick plastic.
    • Out front, under the front porch, the earth has been dug out for storage. This area is always damp but never any standing water.
    • There is also some exposed earth behind some of the walls around the basement perimeter.

    Flooding has not been an issue – just high humidity and condensation on vents and some duct work in basement.


    I replaced all the gutters and rain spouts and checked the grading.

    I am considering a whole-house dehumidification system like those offered by Ultra-Aire and AprilAire.

    I purchased a Sanuvox in-duct UV air cleaner I plan to have installed as well.

    If anyone’s run into a situation like this/can offer some advice I would really appreciate it. Also, can anyone recommend a good contractor in my (the Washington, DC) area?

    Thanks in advance!


  2. #2
    I would throw a EQ Ductworx or an RGF PHI cell instead of the UV, they will kill that musty cellar smell quickly and after you clean up the mold propperly it will prevent it from growing back.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    We do many. EPAetc suggest <50%RH as a requirement for mold/dust mite elimination. I promote the Ultra-Aire/Santa Fe dehus. Been doing it for 18 years. Makes your basement the nicest space in your home. Dehu TB

  4. #4

    Santa Fe Rx Option

    Great, thank-you very much for the advice. I am considering a whole-home dehumidifier but w/installation it may be beyond what my budget allows. Our house is only 1200 sq ft. Would it be overkill? I am considering spending about half as much and buying the Santa Fe Rx which would require no installation and includes a pump. I could set up in the infinished part of the basement and lead the hose to the sink in the same room. Any thoughts or reservations? -Bart

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    RX ok or even the Santa Fe Advance would do a great job. for info. Maintain <50%RH will make the basement the nicest space in your home. Dehu TB

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    I would like to toss in my 02. The home is only 1200 sq ft and three stories. This may mean the basement is pretty small. How big is it?
    To me I would put and end to the problem once and for all. You mention many area's of exposed earth in many different locations in the basement. These area's must have a vapor barrier installed. This means you have to remove some finished wall paneling and install the vapor barrier behind them.
    If you have carpet on the basement floor I would bet back when the did the basement floor pour a vapor barrier was not a consideration. If carpet is on the floor it must be removed , the floor must be painted with a "dry-lock" type paint and the carpet replaced.
    All exposed areas to the earth must be sealed and or covered up. A home acts like a wick when the a/c is on........You are drying out the air in the home but "pulling" moisture in from the surrounding earth. Have some fun and put a bucket under your condensate drain outside and see how well the a/c is removing water from the air in a day. You always will have this oder/ mold problem until the vapor barriers are installed. You mention mold in other areas of the room. I bet you have mold moving upstairs where you don't even see it yet. Taking these measures now will let you turn the corner to a healthy home. If you ever decide to sell, both the home inspector and the real estate agent will be pleased....but in the meantime you reap the rewards of a dry and healthy house.

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