This is why your basement is so hot

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So you are living in Arizona, basking in temperatures over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit (fun right?). As you are heading down to your basement, you notice that your basement is as bad as the hot wasteland you experience outside. Why is that?

A basement that is exhibiting unnatural heat typically means that there is a problem with the ventilation or insulation. Each basement varies by location but some causes could be caused by high levels of humidity, structural damage, or issues with your furnace.

We will go over these warning signs and some quick solutions to bring in better weather to your basement:

Simple Solutions For Basement Heat:

Generally speaking, basements should never be hot, ever. If anything, basements should be colder rather than hot. The temperature of basements should not exceed over fifty-sixty degrees Fahrenheit. If it surpasses that, something is clearly wrong. Source

Do You Have High Humidity?

  • Waterproofing professionals state that “healthy humidity levels are achieved when you feel comfortable in a room, there is no condensation on the surfaces, no evident mold growth or rot. Your optimal basement humidity level during summer will depend on many factors, such as where you live, the age of the building, type of basement insulation, etc. “
  • You can check the average rate of humidity here.
  • Check for those issues on your own or using a humidity reader, which you can find in most department stores.
  • If you are noticing very high amounts of humidity, this can be because of wet foundation walls, dryers, or other appliances improperly venting inside your basement. Source

Are Your Vents Fully Functional?

  • Check your furnace and be sure that all of your fences are currently open and positioned where they can be fully operational. If you have central air in your basement, your vents are blowing out cold air, so venting could easily solve the issue.
  • If your vents are in a position where you can reach them, test out the air. If it is not cold or powerful enough, you may need to check them out.
  • Also, others have noticed that sometimes previous homeowners who deal with cold weather have blocked off various vents that direct to the basement (to keep the pipes from being frozen) They may not look like the vents in the rest of the house.

Are Your Electrical Circuits Functional?

Go near any outlets and feel around the area of the outlet. If you notice any outlets are hot or substantially warmer than usual, that may be a sign of an issue.

If you are also experiencing some dead, non-functional outlets-that is also a red flag you will need to eventually check out.

Is Your Air Conditioning Unit Working Properly?

Seems like a pretty self-explanatory solution, but ventilation experts say that checking your thermostat is the most overlooked step. I am even guilty of it as well, and it took hiring my landlord (who is an electrician) to let me know of the issue.

A simple test is to grab a thermometer and check it with the temperature on your thermostat. If there are discrepancies between the two, get in contact with a professional and they can help.

Have You Checked Your Windows?

Depending on the weather and the type of house, individuals have found that sometimes broken windows are the culprit. Sometimes there are cracks in the installation of the window or the window is broken itself, which leads to warmer weather making everything worse.

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Check Your Boiler

Check the pressure gauge on your boiler. If the dial reads 2.5 bars or higher, that means you are in trouble. 3-4 bars means that your boiler is or will soon become completely non-functional.

If high readings on your boiler aren’t new to you and your boiler is over 10 years old, the best option is to just get a new boiler altogether.

High boiler ratings can be due to too much water in your system, malfunctioning boiler parts, or a leak in the system. Source

Have You Checked Your Piping?

Bad piping can also lead to heating issues. House pipes last about fifty years, but blockages or damage can still happen. Source. As installation experts state: “(ventilate your piping) to prevent warmer outside air and water vapor from getting into your basement through cracks and gaps around pipes.” Source

How’s Your Ventilation?

Have you checked your ventilation recently? Signs of bad ventilation include “excess infiltration (through walls or ducts), inadequate air exchange (too little ventilation), and excess moisture. Often, excess moisture speaks for itself. If you see condensation, mold, or excessive ice buildup, you know you have a problem.” Source

Did You Recently Experience Water Damage?

If so, there may be problems within the structure of your basement that will need further treatment. Be sure to all check throughout your basement of possible leaks or spillage.

Some signs of water damage are water stains, musty smells, mold/mildew, concrete spalling, and efflorescence. These can occur through problems as simple as a leaking laundry machine, but even the slightest leak can wreck your entire basement. Source

As the University of Minnesota Home Management Page states: “Sometimes problems are traced to poor construction with cracking, settling foundations. In many other cases, however, houses and basements can be structurally sound but are often not properly built to handle water drainage.

“Failure to slope the ground surface away from the foundation or lack of a good gutter and downspout system is common. Missing or nonfunctioning subsurface drainage systems are also found relatively frequently. These problems can all be addressed and corrected if a systematic approach is used.” Source

Quick Fixes:

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  • Use a dehumidifier in your basement.
  • Grab a professional and tell him to check your HVAC. There are many other simple ways to increase the circulation of your home without completely breaking the bank.
  • Open your basement window (if you have it) and place a fan against the basement window. The fan will work against the outside outdoor air and spread to the rest of your basement, and it offers a temporary solution till you find the real problem.
  • Open up all of your windows, and air out your entire house.

Ricky Kesler

With all of the projects I've done over the years, you'd think that I work on my house full-time. But I actually enjoy other things like spending time outdoors and time with my family.

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