Good air circulation in the home plays a major role not only in benefiting from quality health, but also in enjoying a superior degree of comfort. Basement ventilation may seem like a minor consideration, particularly if homeowners only utilize this area for storage or for other reasons that occasion only brief visits. But if you are thinking about turning your basement area into viable living space, perhaps as another bedroom, a playroom, a recreational area, home office, etc., before you do anything else, make sure the air quality is good and circulates properly.
How to Get It
Basement ventilation can be facilitated in three ways: naturally, through windows and doors; infiltration/exfiltration, in which air comes and goes via cracks in the walls, ceilings, around doors, etc.; and by mechanical means, a system designed to pump filtered and conditioned outdoor air into the home and then back out again.
Natural ventilation in basements, due to the nature of their construction, does not provide adequate air circulation in most instances. Some homeowners do enjoy limited windows in their basement areas, but most peoples basements do not.
With the room being essentially underground, the likelihood of air coming in by this means or from cracks or leakages (infiltration/exfiltration) is nominal, at best. That leaves mechanical ventilation as the best solution to ensure a basement gets adequate amounts of circulated air for good health and comfort.
Several options exist for good mechanical basement ventilation, depending on how the rest of the home is built and the degree to which the homeowner is willing or able to have a system installed. Budget constraints as well as factors such as time and other good reasons force homeowners to weigh the overall costs of a ventilation project in this area of the home against the benefits.
Simply adding and connecting ductwork to the homes existing heating and air-conditioning system may be the best, obvious basement ventilation solution. But if this is not possible, other systems such as the installation of a reversible fan might be an option worth considering. During the winter season, this system draws in fresh air at low volumes and in the summer, expels hot, humid air.
Another way to provide mechanical basement ventilation is through an air exchanger. This system mounts to the basement wall and vents cool and/or damp air to the outside of home. One company, Humidex, is known for its air-exchange systems that are built for a variety of basement sizes and come in standard and heavy-duty models.
It is Always Worth It
Whichever method you select to alleviate any basement ventilation problems you may have, keep in mind how much worth you are now putting into this new living space. Without clean, fresh, dry air, your basement will not be used, no matter how nicely you remodel and furnish it. But with the air dehumidified, conditioned, and breathable, you have just taken a major step toward having usable, extra space to the house that everyone in the family can enjoy for as long as you live in the home.