Basement HVAC: What You Need to Know

These days, many homeowners are making the choice to finish their basements rather than add additional rooms for more living space. While this is certainly a wonderful idea, they tend to run into trouble when it comes to basement HVAC. Here’s what you need to know for making sure your finished basement stays cozy all year long.

You May Not Need to Change Anything at All

Depending on the size of your basement, you may not need to change your HVAC system when you choose to finish it. Remember that your basement is underground, which is naturally cooler, and that heat rises. The combination of these two factors often keeps basements remarkably cool, even when there isn’t a single air conditioner duct to be found. If your basement air will be stuffy and stale, however, then you might want to consider adding a few ducts. This may even mean increasing the size of your existing HVAC unit.

Can Your Current System Handle the Square Footage?

First things first, if you plan to run basement HVAC, you’ll need to know how many square feet your existing system can cool and the size of your new living space, basement included. This will tell you whether you need to purchase a newer, larger HVAC system that can handle the additional load. It’s vital that you upgrade your system if necessary; trying to cool too large a space with too small a unit can cause mechanical issues and create unnecessarily high energy bills, especially during the summer.

Running Ducts for Basement HVAC

If it turns out that your current system can handle the additional load, then basement AC may be as simple as branching off a couple of ducts to get the air flowing. While this may seem simple enough, you’ll need to tap into the existing ductwork at the right places; otherwise, you might find that you’re “stealing” cooled air from the rest of the home, which can make things rather uncomfortable. The best way to do this involves contacting a professional who can help you make the right choices for your comfort.

Installing a New HVAC System

Major renovations are the best times to install basement HVAC. You’ll already be down there working on the walls, wiring, and plumbing, so why not go ahead and get that high-efficiency unit you’ve had your eye on? It’ll save you on labor costs, especially if the area where the air handler is kept is already cleared. A new unit will do more than help you keep your basement air fresh and cool; it’ll also improve energy efficiency throughout your entire home, which can save you money on your cooling bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Basement HVAC isn’t always necessary, but if you’re concerned about thick, stale, moist air, then it’s worth your while to add your basement to your home’s ducts. Just make sure your current unit is large enough to handle the extra square footage, and call a professional before you make any major changes to your ducts.

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