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The Case for a Basement Ventilation System:

Using Air Circulation to Control Toxic Mold and Radon Gas Build-Up

© 2008 by All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

Exhaust Fan for Basement Ventilation

This article was updated on 01/31/19. Happy National Backward Day!

It’s costly to hire a mold remediation contractor. A basement ventilation system will minimize developing a case of black mold infestation. And a heating and cooling system will keep the space comfortable.

Your basement ventilation system will reduce stagnant air problems that poses health issues. Moist, settling air can provide an environment for an outbreak of toxic black mold.

After hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, everyone comprehends the negative health risk involved.

Reduce the Risk of Mold and Radon Gas

But if mold does show up in your basement, the sooner you hire a mold remediation company the better. Another reason for proper ventilation that poses a potential health risk is radon gas. Your first step in determining if you have excessive levels is to install a radon gas detector.

This is a good point to note that when you complete any of these types of home improvement projects, always revise your homeowners insurance policy to reflect the newer, higher replacement costs.

How Much Basement Ventilation do You Need?

Good question. The right answer actually depends on what you use your basement for. If you’re only going to use it for storage, then heating and cooling the space probably won’t be your prime goal.

In this situation, circulating the air and a method to transfer basement humidity outside is your prime consideration.

What’s involved? You’ll need a ductwork system, several exhaust grills, and one or two exhaust fans depending on the square footage. A dehumidifier is highly recommended in a humid environment. Sometimes the air is exhausted up through the roof, but most commonly it’s shorter and more expeditious to route it to the side of the home.

But for a Home Theater or Guest Bedrooms...

On the other hand, if basement refinishing is your goal, to convert your basement into a comfortable living space, whether guest bedrooms or a basement home theater, you’ll be looking at a more complex system for indoor climate control.

You will almost certainly need to install heating and cooling. The equipment involved is the same type of air conditioning and furnace that you use in the upper reaches of your home already. A ductless A/C is a good option to consider.

During a remodeling project, chances are that you’ll have to add on; adding this much footage to the livable portion of the home would stress the units.

Indoor Climate Control for New Construction?

This is the best case scenario. Ventilation can be configured when your home is in the initial construction phase. Your architect will work with your HVAC engineer to determine the capacity of the ventilation equipment you need.

They will use your house’s square footage to plan and integrate your basement space into your home HVAC system together with the upper parts of your home.

Retrofitting an HVAC System

But if you are already occupying your home, you will need to retrofit it. If you choose not to go with a ductless system, inexpensive flexible ducts or galvanized steel ducts will be installed in your basement. Next you’ll need to add the pre-determined new air conditioning and heating units or just replace your existing one if it has seen better days.

If not, this is right time to ask yourself, “How old is my current system and what’s the SEER rating?”

If your current HVAC system is fairly new and has a high SEER rating, the best option, financially speaking, is to just add on a dedicated indoor climate control system, such as the ductless system we mentioned, just for your basement.

But on the other hand, if your system is getting a little long in the tooth, it’s just not going to be as energy efficient as the newer Energy Star models.

This presents a golden opportunity to scrap the existing heating and cooling units and replace them with one sure to save money every month on utility bills. In some areas, the homeowner can even reap a US federal tax credit. But don’t stop there; go ahead and install a condenser misting system. It is inexpensive and only takes about 20 minutes to install.

Guidelines for Claiming Economic Stimulus Tax Credits

For example, Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package adjusted tax credits, but it changes every year so be sure to check. Central air conditioners must have a SEER rating of 16 and above for split systems or 14 and above for package systems.

Heat pumps need a SEER rating of 15 and above for split systems, 14 and above for package systems. Geothermal heat pumps require a Minimum EER of 14.1 for closed-loop, 16.2 for open-loop, and 15.0 for direct expansion.

I hope you enjoyed this article on basement ventilation systems and found it helpful. If you did, I would consider it a favor if you shared the link with friends. And if you have some related ideas please share them with our readers in the comment section below.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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© 2008 All rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.