A crawl space with humidity issues isn’t ideal, and investing in a dehumidifier might be the solution you are looking for.
It seems like a good idea, but how much will it actually cost to install a dehumidifier in your crawl space? For most homes, installing a dehumidifier in a crawl space ranges from $1,200-$2,200. This is after factoring in both the varying equipment and labor costs the market offers.
But there are a lot more factors that need consideration, and a good handle on them will prevent you from spending on any unwanted expenses.
Assessing your crawl space
It’s generally a good idea to assess your crawl space before investing in a dehumidifier. This is because even though a dehumidifier is a solution for most moisture-related problems, it has its limits. This would prevent you from needlessly investing in one when other issues need fixing first.
Crawl spaces are typically dark and damp places. These are perfect conditions for the growth of mold and mildew. It’s also prone to attract insects such as termites, dust mites and other pests that can damage the very foundations of your home.
If you find the following problems while surveying your crawl space, it might be a good idea to invest in a dehumidifier.
- Visible mold
- Presence of insects such as termites and dust mites
- Musty air
- The air feels stuffy because of high humidity levels
- Dripping moisture from certain pipes such as the condensation pipes of the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system of your home.
- Puddles of collecting water
- Rotting and swelling of wood
- Sagging floorboards
Another pitfall of having a crawl space with humidity related issues is the rising air (stack effect). The air in a crawl space gradually rises and seeps into the above floors. This will alter the moisture content in the air, cause unpleasant odors, and also add contaminants such as mold spores into the air you breathe. Thus, a dehumidifier will improve the overall air quality of your home as well.
Picking the right dehumidifier
Once you assess your crawl space and decide to invest in a dehumidifier, you need to figure out the right type of dehumidifier for the job. A poor investment at this stage might lead to extra expenses in the long run.
Compared to most areas at home, crawl spaces have a higher moisture content. Therefore, you need a dehumidifier that’s designed for crawl spaces. A “whole house” or “basement” dehumidifier might do the trick, but it won’t be as effective. This is because they are not designed to deal with high levels of humidity. Furthermore, crawl space models are compact, allowing them to be installed in tight spaces.
Most brands include the word “Crawl Space” in their names, so it won’t be difficult sorting them out from the rest.
When buying a crawl space or any other type of dehumidifier, two very important details to keep an eye out for are its “operational capacity” and the “area of coverage”. A dehumidifier’s “operational capacity” expresses the amount of water it can remove from the air in 24 hours. The value is usually expressed in PPD (Pints Per Day). Similarly, the “area coverage” shows its effective range of operation and is commonly expressed in square feet.
Crawl space models range between $700 and $1,500 and can seem more expensive than other types. A unit with an inbuilt condensation pump will cost around $1,100. Operational capacities of these models range between 50 PPD to 90PPD and can remove water from areas as big as 1,500-2,000 square feet.
The Installation process and costs
Picking the right crawl space dehumidifier is half the battle. Next, you need to decide on how it’s going to be installed. It is better to install a dehumidifier with a drainage system of its own instead of a reservoir tank. Connecting the output of the dehumidifier to your HVAC systems outflow is another option. This will prevent you from emptying the tank every time it’s full.
Installation of a dehumidifier can be done by hiring a contractor or by yourself. If you plan on hiring a contractor, the cost of installing can vary depending on the company/individuals you select. Typically, a contractor charges around $300- $700 depending on how complex the system is. Some systems even require an electrician to be brought in, which would again incur an expense of around $60 per hour. But most contractors nowadays cover electrical work as well.
It takes about 3 to 7 hours for a complete dehumidifier system to be installed. The total cost usually covers the assembly of the dehumidifier, its placement, installed drainage option and electrical work where necessary.
But if you are feeling confident, you can undertake the task yourself. Some home-based dehumidifiers are easy to install and do not need any hiring. This will save you labor costs but will require you to buy the tools and equipment needed for the job. The following is a list of basic tools and items you might need when soloing the installation.
- An electric drill and a set of drill bits
- Hammers, screwdrivers and nails
- PVC pipes
- Rubber tubing
- Straps and metal clamps
- Concrete blocks (only if a platform is required because some dehumidifiers can be hung)
Buying all this will cause an expense of at least $300. This list does not include the equipment needed for electrical work, because dealing with electricity is always best left to the professionals. However, keep in mind that things can turn ugly pretty fast if you are dealing with tight crawl spaces and complex dehumidifiers.
A few other costs to consider
When the system is up and running, you might want to consider electricity costs and repair costs as well. Though they seem like a couple of mild and regular expenses, they tend to add up and can be a surprise to anyone not expecting it.
1) Electricity costs
An average crawl space dehumidifier adds about $5-$40 to your monthly electricity bill. This, however, depends on many factors like its watt rating and time spent in operation. If you want to calculate the precise electricity cost per month, you can do so by multiplying the watt rating with its running time and comparing the result with the electricity rates in your area.
The best way to make sure that your dehumidifier won’t consume a lot of electricity is to buy one with an Energy Star rating. Products that are Energy Star rated are energy efficient and will consume a less amount of power than a product that’s not rated for the same amount of work.
2) Repair and maintenance costs
Just like any appliance, a crawl space dehumidifier goes through several maintenance and repair sessions during its life cycle. A few steps for maintaining any dehumidifier includes:
- Emptying and cleaning the tank (if it’s a reservoir tank-based model)
- Replacing filters
- Inspecting and cleaning its coils
- Cleaning the air intake and exhaust pipes
These steps may seem easy, but when it’s a crawl space dehumidifier, it becomes considerably harder, especially when it’s installed in a tight space. This is why you would need to reach out to a repair and maintenance service. The service can range from $60-$250.
Why are crawl space dehumidifiers so expensive?
Crawl space dehumidifiers, unlike regular dehumidifiers, are designed to deal with high moisture content and come in a compact finish to help install in tight spaces. The durability is also relatively better as crawl space dehumidifiers are exposed to harsher environments. Some models comprise over 2 air filters, allowing it to capture contaminants like mold spores which leads to air purification.
These additional benefits make a crawl space dehumidifier more expensive than a regular dehumidifier.
Can a dehumidifier be used in a crawl space without encapsulation?
A dehumidifier can be used in a crawl space without encapsulation. But this would reduce its effectiveness. This is because without encapsulation there’s nothing stopping water getting into the crawl space which would lead to higher levels of humidity. If this process keeps happening, the dehumidifier will have trouble keeping up.
Where should a dehumidifier be installed in a crawl space?
The ideal place to install a crawl space dehumidifier is on concrete blocks. Many prefer this over a hanging installation because the noise made will not be transferred to living areas. Ease of access for maintenance should also be considered during installation.