How do I heat my Basement?
This is a popular question…one I get a lot. There are several different types of basement heating sources you can choice from. One of these sources would be considered a “primary” heating system and the others” both secondary” heating systems.
We all know it’s naturally cooler in our basement. The reason for this is we are below grade and mother earth is a great insulator. She keeps the annual average daily basement temperature at around 50-55 (F) degrees. That’s great news in the summer months but not so good in the cooler months.
So…we need to have a good heat source in place to keep us toasty when the temperature drops. But just heating the air to a comfortable temperature is not enough in the basement. The heated air also needs to be circulating and filtered to maintain a healthy atmosphere that promotes “good health”.
Different Types of Heating Systems for Basements
There are 3 main types of heating systems that work well in finished basements. One can be used as a stand alone heat source while the others need to be supplemented to create an ideal environmental condition. They are:
Forced Hot Air Furnace (Heat Pump)
This type of heating system is either electric or gas induced. These systems “push” heated moving air into the finished basement through wall and ceiling “feed” registers. The system also “returns” the air volume back to the furnace where the air is filtered before it once again sent back to the finished living area. This is a stand alone basement heating system that needs no secondary heat source to be efficient. This is the # 1 recommended way for heating finished basement space.
Electric baseboard Heaters
Electric heat is a great supplement heat source for basements, but should not be considered as the primary heat source. Electric baseboard heaters only heat the living space, but do not circulate and filter this heated air. Although electric baseboard heaters are the least expensive system of all to purchase, electric baseboard heat is traditionally the most expensive source to use.
Basement floor radiant heating systems are designed to heat the concrete slab, using it to conduct heat that is absorbed by the basement surroundings. Radiant heat only heats the living space, but does not circulate and filter this heated air. Heated water or an antifreeze mixture is circulated in flexible tubing looped through a network above or below the concrete floor. Hydronic radiant floor systems pump the heated water through the tubing, effectively heating the concrete surface and radiating the heat to be absorbed by the finished basement surroundings.
Do I need Filtered and Circulating basement air?
Yes Finished Basements should have a circulating/filtered air system to maintain a comfortable and healthy atmosphere. Circulating filtered air keeps mold and other nasty microbes from forming in the basements otherwise “stagnant-air” environment.
Basements by design are a dark, cool, humid areas with low levels of natural daylight. Daylight helps reduce the risk of mold forming especially in places with high moisture levels. By helping to move and filter the air volume in the basement we create an living environment that has:
- Lower Humidity Levels
- Healthier cleaner air to breath!
- Less of a risk for mold growth
Moving and filtering the air in your basement creates an environment that is as “real” and as healthy as the rest of your home. Electric heat and Radiant heat systems need to supplemented with another system to move the basement air volume and filter it. That’s why the Forced Hot Air Furnace is the Best way to go, it does everything you need a basement heating system to do.
Can I use the existing Ductwork to heat my basement?
It has been my experience that most newer homes have a furnace that is “sized” to handle the additional finished basement living space…So Yes, you can tap into your existing system. We do it all the time and have had no issues tapping into the existing feed and return trunk ductwork.
Now…when you do this “tapping” into the existing duckwork, it needs to be done correctly. You can’t just go cutting holes in the bottom of the ductwork and then “slap” air grates over the holes! I see this all the time and it makes me cringe! This bad…VERY BAD!
It has to be done in such a way that you are calibrating the feed and return air systems as it’s being done. I show you exactly how to do this in my basement HVAC heating and cooling video series. If your interested in doing your own heating system work these step by step videos will save some sweet cash.
Good luck with your heating project.