basement heating

awakedreamJanuary 17, 2010

I am at my wits end with trying to keep the basement a decent temperature in the winter. I had 2 additional cold air returns installed for a total of 3 one in each room and there are 3 heat thingys too. I also use a space heater, but using the space heater seems to just heat up the upstairs more than the basement. I am thinking now, that perhaps I need insulation in the ceiling of the basement to help keep the heat down there. I have a dropped ceiling and was wondering if it is safe to put insulation between the boards up there. I also have flourescent lighting up there, and I dont want to start a fire with the insulation. How far away from the lighting do I need to keep the insulation and will the insulation make any difference??? I am getting ready to remodel down there and wonder what is the best way to insulate the walls. Thx!

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It's essential that the basement walls are sealed and insulated.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 1:11PM
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I agree with worthy - he is very knowldegeable regarding basement insulation.

I believe he would recommend XPS against the foundation and build your walls against the XPS.

Are you trying to warm the basement for living/sleeping or just for periodic use? Do you notice a difference when your furnace is calling for heat most of the time (ie when it is really cold outdoors) or is the basement just cold? How cold? Our basement only has one cold return and 2 heat vents and when the house is calling for heat continually the basement is the warmest spot due to the radiant from the ducting. I often run the furnace fan 24/7 in extreme temperatures to even all 3 levels of the house.

Here are a few other thoughts:
How are your windows? If you have single pane glass, can you replace the windows? Otherwise install storms or the shrink plastic - it will make a difference.

Do you have a door which can be closed to contain heat in your basement? If not, can you install one. Heat rises and your space heater is a costly way to warm the house.

If you haven't, have a qualified HVAC tech advise you. There are ways to install booster fans and even zone forced air systems these days.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 1:53PM
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I'm in Northern VA. We have an 800 sf basement 2/3 below grade. While it was unfinished, in the dead of winter it would be 50 +/- and breezy (you could feel the draft from various points.

When I finished it, I first sealed all gaps around the rim joist, the replaced the lousy/leaky single pane hopper windows. That seemed to help right off the bat. ( We also added an egress window, but that's double pane and tight, so it's fine, too.) Then I insulated the rim joint area and walls with XPS (3/4 on the walls, and thicker in each rim joist space, making it snug with spray foam.)

We have hydronic baseboard heat, about 20 linear feet worth total, and it's now terrific down there. Without the heat it gets down to 62, but it heats up quickly, and remains that way for quite a while.

I don't think the ceiling insulation will help much, but I would look into adding some supplemental heat, such as an electric baseboard or two. Also, I might go around the perimeter from the outside and seal all gaps.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 7:50PM
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Thanks for all the great info, I think the windows might be the next thing I will tackle and the wall insulation. I think a baseboard heater might also do the trick. Then I can get rid of the space heater. Thank you soooooooo much

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 9:58AM
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