Should Basement Vents Be Open In The Winter?

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It is challenging to control the temperature in the basement. Cold air from the outside can bring moisture into the basement. You might need to manipulate the existing HVAC vents to keep your basement in good condition. Find out what experts have to say about keeping your vents open in the winter.

During winter, it is best to open the vents in the basement. By doing so, you can redirect the cool air from your basement. Closing the vents can cause damage to your home heating system. The air pressure can create cracks and leaks in the ductwork. Aside from damage, you do not save energy costs from overworking the HVAC.

Regardless if you open or close the basement vents, you must know how to maintain good ventilation. You can use other ways of controlling the airflow in the basement without hurting your pockets. Continue reading to learn how you can control the air in the basement during the winter.

A red brick wall with white basement vents, Should Basement Vents Be Open In The Winter?

Why Should You Open Basement Vents During The Winter?

Basements are already cold even if it's not yet winter. Since most won't stay up inside for too long, most homeowners think that closing the vents during the cold seasons can help lower their energy costs. They believe that it is a waste to heat the space when no one is using it.

However, home heating systems provide not only heat but also release air pressure. Too much pressure in the ductwork causes cracks and holes. You can damage the furnace heat exchanger if there is pressure buildup. Hence, the damage shortens the life of your HVAC systems.

In that case, it would cost you more for repairs or replacements if you close the vents.

To keep your ducts and vents working in their best condition, you should leave all your vents open during the winter. Keeping the vents open allows air to move freely inside your home. You can also install zoned HVACs to control temperatures for specific areas in your home.

How Do You Maintain Basement Ventilation?

Air conditioning system assembled on performing preventive maintenance in a window well for basement

Aside from installing heating systems like HVAC, there are other ways to keep good airflow in the basement. You must know how to ventilate your basement to create a comfortable space for your activities.

Ventilation helps in controlling the temperature and keeping humidity and moisture at acceptable levels. Moisture causes mold and musty smells.

With proper ventilation, you can exhaust polluted air and let in the fresh air. If ignored, poor ventilation can cause deterioration of the basement, which may lead to respiratory problems.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, ventilation systems in the basement must maintain humidity levels between 30% to 50%. With proper ventilation, the approximate air exchange of "clean air" is around 0.35 times in an hour.

You have three options on how you can manage ventilation in the basement. Read about them below.

Mechanical Ventilation

In this method, you can use fans and exhausts to allow fresh air inside. This option is ideal for any season, as you create your own airflow. But you will need an existing window or ventilation pipes for this method. Also, this method is not cost-friendly.

Natural Ventilation

If you worry about high electricity costs, you can naturally let the air in and out of the basement. With this method, you need to have windows and doors that you can easily open or close. The natural and free exchange of air is possible if you open the basement doors and windows regularly.

Portable Ventilation

Lastly, you can choose this method if you want to ventilate the basement with less hassle. You also do not need to spend on adding doors, windows, fans, and exhausts to ventilate the area. The only thing you will need is an air purifier. The filters in the devices trap particles of the air contaminants.

Air purifiers will filter the mold and mildew spores, and harmful gases like radon and carbon monoxide. With these devices, you can keep the basement a healthy place to stay.

Read more: Should You Air Out A Basement? [And How To]

How Many Vents Should Be In A Basement?

Air vent of an old basement wall

When planning your home heating system, you need to consider how many vents to install in the basement. An adequate number of vents can help prevent moisture and ventilation problems. The required vents would vary with the conditions and size of the basement.

For a basement with vapor barriers or sealers, you need one vent for every 300 square feet. If there are no barriers or sealers, you need more vents. In that case, place at least one vent for every 150 square feet of the area. Larger basements will require more vents to get sufficient airflow.

Where Should Vents Be Placed In A Basement?

After deciding on the number of vents, it is also important to plan for the location of the vents. The proper placement of the vents will help you tackle the cold or heat when seasons change. The locations vary on the current structure and needs of the basement.

You should position at least one on the floor, at the baseboards, or below the windows for the supply ventilation. The heat from the vent on the floor will have a lower distance to travel going up.

When there is less heat movement, the system is more efficient. As a result, you can save energy costs in the long run.

Ventilation ductwork also includes a return vent that pulls air from the inside and back to the system. You can place them on the opposite sides of the heating ducts. It also helps to set the vents near the floor to avoid the cold air stagnating inside.

Is It Okay To Close Basement Vents In The Summer?

Here comes summer. It is safe if you opt to close the vents during the hot seasons. But to avoid damage to your HVAC systems, you can rotate which vents to close and open every two days. Closing the vents can be advantageous if you want to save on energy costs.

Aside from cost-savings, here are some disadvantages of closing the vents in the summer.

  • If you close the vents for too long, you will cause air pressure back up. In effect, you could damage the HVAC ductwork in the long run.
  • The vent backups also cause leaking if there is too much air pressure. Your energy costs will rise if you ignore this problem. The air can include dust particles or give off unpleasant smells.
  • It is also a concern if there is moisture near the AC coils. When the vents back up, it can freeze the AC coils. With that issue, temperature control will fail. You will need a professional to do the repairs of the vents and related ducts. If the system is beyond repair, you will need to buy a new HVAC system.

It is best to plan when to close the vents in the summer to get the cost-saving benefits without damaging your heating systems.

In Closing

Keep your vents open to help redirect the airflow in the basement. Even though operating the vents is costly, you can avoid serious damage to the system ductworks. Overworking the HVAC will not be efficient in ventilating the basement.

The number and location of your vents would vary to meet your needs. If you don't want the hassle and costs of using vents, you can use other ventilation methods.

Options include using air purifiers, opening windows, or adding fans and exhausts. You can choose the ventilation options that can help you address the issues.

After all, maintaining good air circulation allows you to get a comfortable stay in the basement.

Check out other related topics about basements in these posts:

How Can I Cool Down My Basement Without AC?

Should A Basement Door Be Opened Or Closed In The Summer?

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