Heating and cooling a finished basement can be really challenging. If you’re attempting this for the first time, here’s what you need to know to get the job done right the first time.
Size Up What You Have
A contractor should be able to size up your existing home without too much trouble. Sometimes, an energy audit is helpful for figuring out where leaks are in your home so that you can fix those and then do the assessment. If your home is very inefficient, the solution might not be a larger HVAC system. It might be tightening up the home a bit.
The contractor should never recommend anything without an assessment of your needs. A bigger furnace or AC system is not always a better idea, either. For example, oversized AC systems often fail to properly dehumidify the home because they don’t run long enough to cycle the air.
They cool too quickly, leaving you with a home that’s cold and damp.
Adding Additional Ducting To Your Current System
You might need to add ductwork to your home, which can get expensive. If your run it through your basement, it’s likely that you will have to run it in the ceiling and then run the registers on the walls up high. If you do run them down to the baseboard, be mindful of the furniture arrangement, because placement of the registers will limit what you can do with the home.
Installing or Upgrading Your System
You should always hire a professional to install a HVAC system, regardless of your handyman skills. Why? Because many manufacturers will void the warranty if you try to DIY. Also, many of the newer systems are more complex than they look. And, if you’re trying to mate an older system to a newer one, you’re in for a shock.
The new systems don’t play well together with many older parts. So, a new AC system connected to an older furnace/HVAC system will generally not run as efficiently as if you just purchased a whole new HVAC system. In some cases, you’ll see a loss of 30 percent efficiency.
That hurts, especially when you just laid out a lot of money for a new air conditioning system.
Upgrading your system can, however, be done if the manufacturer has taken steps to ensure that the new system they sell is compatible with older models or versions. Only your HVAC professional can tell you whether it makes sense to upgrade or buy new.
Get a More Efficient System
Your current system might be perfectly efficient for heating everything except the basement. But, when you finish that basement, and try to extend the HVAC, it breaks your budget. Basements shouldn’t suffer from cooling issues as much as they might suffer from heating ones.
That’s because basements are usually pretty cool to begin with.
But, if you need the added heat for the winter months, and you probably will, it might make sense to invest in a gas fireplace, a wood-burning stove, or radiant heat. Radiant heat will be the most cost-efficient option over time, even though the fireplace or stove wins on style points.
Rose Grant is a home renovation contractor. She loves sharing her experiences on the web. Her posts appear mostly on DIY and home improvement blog sites.