A cold basement is a common issue that perplexes homeowners who want to enjoy their basement living space without having to resort to space heaters or extra layers of clothing in the winter. Here in Ottawa, many homeowners use their basements as fully livable areas such as recreation rooms, work spaces or play areas. This means that ensuring proper warmth and comfort are essential.
If you notice a drastic temperature difference between your basement and the rest of your home, here are a few areas to consider that may explain why your basement is cold.
Basements sit below ground level and so, naturally, they can often become damp. Make sure you are running a dehumidifier if your basement is damp as this will remove excess moisture from the air and will not only make the area more comfortable, but will also help to protect against the growth of mold. Moisture control is especially true if you have a shower in the basement, as this moisture needs to be removed from the area, preferably through a bathroom exhaust fan.
Are your laundry machines located in the basement? The dryer produces a large amount of heat that needs to be properly vented to the outside of your home. It is important to inspect the connections for your dryer. If moisture is leaking from the dryer ventilation into your basement, this can add to the dampness issue you are experiencing.
Finally, cracks in your foundation can allow cold air into the home and also water. Ensure to inspect any cracks in your foundation, or water found on the basement floor, to determine the source and the necessary steps to repair the damage.
Most basements are insulated using the traditional method of framing and then filling the gaps between the studs with insulation. This is an effective technique, but it does leave room for heat loss through what is known as thermal bridging. This occurs when the insulation is not forming a complete wall of insulation, but rather is interrupted by the wood studs. These studs are not insulated and allow air to transfer through them and to the outside. This lowers the energy efficiency of the home and allows heat to be lost in the winter.
If you are renovating or looking to improve the insulation in your basement, consider continuous insulation around the basement that allows no thermal bridging. Rigid board stock insulation can be applied against the foundation wall prior to framing with studs and prior to adding the normal insulation.
Basement windows are a common source of heat loss. If you have older windows, check the sealing around them to ensure it does not require repair. Also check to see if your windows could use an upgrade. Double and triple pane windows are excellent options for immediately improving the insulating ability of your basement.
Since heat rises, and because the top floors of the home have more windows and sunlight, the basement will always be colder by a few degrees. Since the thermostat is typically placed on the main floor of the home, where rising heat and solar heat from the windows are providing warmth, the thermostat is always registering the heat on the main floor as if it is the heat of the entire house.
This creates a situation where the home has uneven heating, and a colder basement. One easy fix is to install a smart thermostat, such as a NEST or an Ecobee. These devices have sensors that can be placed in the colder areas of the home that communicate with the thermostat that additional heat is required in that area.
Additional Heating Options
Radiant floor heating in Ottawa is a great way to add extra warmth and comfort to your basement space. Hot water piping is buried beneath your basement floor and allows radiant heat waves to rise and provide a uniform heating source across the basement. PEX tubing is a great option to carry the hot water in these systems as it is cheaper than copper, does not rust, and won’t burst in extreme cold like regular plumbing.