Dehumidifier in a New England's basement during the winter?

Hello everybody,
My husband and I just bought a condo with a finished basement. The basement smelled musty when we first moved in and we opened a mini window in the area (8" by 16" type of window) and the musty smell went away. It got cold recently and we closed the window, and the musty smell came back.
I wonder if we should buy a dehumidifier for the basement. My father will be staying there over Thanksgiving and he has asthma problems. However, I am not sure we will need one on the winter time: we used to live in a one story apartment and we had to run a *humidifier* over the winter.
So, do we need a dehumidifier or should I expect the air to be dry enough in the winter that I won't need it? Is there something else that may be better than a dehumidifier? We're not planning to heat the place all winter long: mostly only when we have visitors, and it will be ~45 degrees otherwise.
Pardon my vast amount of ignorance :) I'm just trying to learn to be a homeowner!
Thanks, Karen
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Karen,
You may wish.to buy, borrow or rent a hygrometer. It will tell you the relative humidity. Take some readings in your basement to find out whether you have a humidity problem. Compare these to readings upstairs and outside. Don't buy a dehumidifier until you are sure you have a humidity problem. Radio Shack sells a pretty good hygrometer.
Dave M.
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outside.
Unless you have a VERY tight house, you just don't have to run a dehumidifier in the heating season. BUT you do have to ensure that the "damp" area is kept at a comfortable temperature. This will dry out the basement. With sufficient circulation and air exchange with the rest of the house the entire place becomes more comfortable.
Almost certain the OP has a moisture problem. He should address these problems as well he can. "Pumping" water out of a damp basement with dry air can cause minerals to build up on and in the walls.
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