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  • Writer's pictureTeam Pinto

Better Basement Heating Options for Warm Winter Below Ground Living

You know that the Waterloo Region winter is approaching because the leaves are turning fast and the nights are growing darker and longer. And it's getting colder out there too, of course.

If you've chosen to convert the basement of your home into a distinct living area, or if it's a project you're thinking about, you've probably learned the difficulties of keeping the space warm. Fortunately, we've researched the most popular basement heating solutions available so you can choose the one that works best for your home and your budget.

We have solutions to keep your basement warm all winter long, whether you're searching for an energy-efficient option or a more conventional heating approach. Here are some great solutions for basement heating that you can consider before winter really sets in.

Warming Up Your Basement Without New Heating

Without adding extra heat sources, you might be able to insulate your basement and keep it warmer. Perhaps all you need to do is make the space more energy-efficient or better able to retain heat. Additionally, adding insulation will improve the comfort of your basement all through the heat of the summer too.

Replace or Add New Carpeting

The fibers that make up carpet disperse heat more slowly than those of tile or the concrete slabs that are common in unfinished basements. Installing thick floor rugs or carpeting your basement will help keep the heat in the space and prevent it from seeping into the slab flooring.

There are a few things to think about before carpeting your basement. First, don't carpet your flooring if you have a leak or a problem with flooding in your basement until the leak has been remedied.

Second, determine the visible height of the rug, or the pile height. High-pile carpeting is a convenient place for spiders and other bugs to hide and lay their eggs if you have issues with them in your basement. The best option in these situations might be a Berber carpet or carpet tiles.

Improve Your Insulation

If your basement has cinder block walls, installing carpet might not be sufficient to keep the heat inside. Make sure to insulate the walls if you plan to finish your basement to add a new bedroom or living space. Spray foam is a fantastic insulator for basement walls that will keep the chilly air out. The ideal thickness for insulation is typically between R-10 and R-19 in rating.

The basement will often look nicer by framing in the cinder block walls too. If you decide to do this, make sure the insulation job is done properly by consulting a licensed contractor. If you have any water leaks, you should address those before adding insulation, just like when carpeting your basement. If you don't, the house could sustain damage from leaks between the foundation and interior walls.

Track Down Lurking Leaks

When attempting to keep your basement warm, you should check for leaks other than water ones. Warm air may leak out of the windows and walk-out doors because of worn-out, cracked, or loose seals, or because they don't fit tightly against the frames.

Have a qualified home inspector, the kind you'd call if you were buying a home, thoroughly assess your basement for leaks and drafts.

Innovative and Effective Ways To Heat Your Basement

Heated Flooring

If you are willing to spend a little more, and you want your feet to feel extra toasty, you can install a heated floor in your basement. There are two kinds of basement floor heating – electric radiant or hydronic radiant to provide low-level, dispersed ambient heating to the floor.

Electric radiant floor heating uses electrical wiring to heat the floor, while hydronic radiant floor heating uses circulating hot water. Both can be used under a cement floor, tiling, hardwood, or carpeting. Radiant heated flooring can give an overall warmth to the basement without drying out the air.

Add Additional Heating Vents

You might think about having the ducting in your house modified to add heat vents to the space. To make sure your home can handle the additional work, consult a qualified HVAC contractor.

Since the furnace is often placed in the basement of most homes, installing ducting and heating vents is usually pretty straightforward. However, to allow for more ducting, you might need to remove the ceiling or walls, so keep that in mind while planning your budget.

Add Wall Heaters

You may also want to consider a wall heater. Wall heaters are heating units installed into your wall that heat a cold basement by bringing in the cold air and sending it back out as hot air. You can choose from either gas or electric.

Gas wall heaters burn propane or natural gas to heat your basement and can be vented through your roof or wall. Some models can be ventless, which may work better for your basement. Whichever option you choose, you’ll need to make sure you have a good carbon monoxide detector to ensure everything is kept warm safely.

Your second option is an electric wall heater which doesn’t need a vent. This works best for spot heating, or heating part of your basement, rather than the entire basement. If you use - or plan to use - your finished basement space as a bedroom or living room a fireplace effect wall heater can be an excellent choice.

Make Careful Use of Space Heaters

Perhaps the simplest basement heating option is to place space heaters in the area. They can warm a small-to-medium-sized room and don’t require installation or maintenance. And most are portable, meaning you can use them in other areas of your home.

Some examples of space heaters include – electric space heaters or electric fireplaces, radiant space heaters, and ceramic space heaters. If you decide to add a space heater to your basement, be sure to purchase new ones to ensure that you have one with up-to-date safety features.

Other Basement Heating Options to Consider with Caution

It's perfectly possible to add a fireplace, or a pellet stove, to a basement, but you should do so with care. While both are great - and usually very attractive - ways to heat a basement they are two of the most dangerous ways to heat any area of your home if not used with the greatest of care.

While the atmosphere created by a wood-burning fireplace is hard to duplicate, it can be challenging to install a new one in a basement because they require a vertical flue. A gas fireplace, which burns natural gas or propane, is a good wood-burning alternative, as it’s a clean, simple to use, and effective heat source.

Gas fireplaces don’t need to vent vertically and can actually vent horizontally if specifications are met. However, avoid using a ventless or unvented gas fireplace in basements as their moisture production can exacerbate an already humid environment. You should also ensure that your basement has a carbon monoxide detector to alert you if any poisonous carbon monoxide is emitting from your gas fireplace.

When it comes to pellet stoves, they work by burning compressed wood pellets or other organic materials. Compared to other heating solutions, a wood pellet stove is efficient in heating your entire basement, relatively affordable, and comes in a variety of styles and sizes. However, they can be a serious fire hazard when used improperly, so will need to be installed - and utilized - with great care.

Winter warmth in the lowest regions of your home can be easily attained. You can use your basement during the colder months with just a few changes, no matter how low the temperatures fall. To be sure you're adhering to safety guidelines and fulfilling your local building requirements, consult with a certified contractor or HVAC expert before installing your heating components.

Wondering if finishing your basement will add value to your Waterloo Region home? Check out what we have had to say on the subject here.


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