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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

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 might also be a good idea in humid environments. 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 likely 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.

During a remodel, 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?

Preferably, ventilation can be configured when your home is in the initial construction phase. In this case, your architect can 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. To begin with, 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.

But 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 just for your basement.

But on the other hand, if your system has seen better days, 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.

Guidelines for Claiming Economic Stimulus Tax Credits

For example, Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package adjusted tax credits. 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.

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