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A basement is likely responsible for cooler temperatures in the home once winter hits. It may be due to conditions outside the foundation, lack of preparation, or inadequate warmth within the room. But you might be wondering, is it necessary to ready your basement for the winter? How can you make the needed preparations? We've asked the experts and summarized their insights in this post.
Yes, winterizing your basement gears it up for the colder seasons. Protecting your basement against cold weather reduces total energy costs and damage from freezing and moisture. A few ways to prepare your basement are the following:
- Check the gutters and downspouts.
- Repair foundation cracks and leaks.
- Prepare and insulate pipes.
- Keep the heating system in check.
Prepping a basement for winter can be done in various methods. But before these, it's essential to determine the initial condition of your basement to identify the next steps you should take. Continue reading to discover different procedures you can consider to keep your basement winterized.
What Temperature Should I Keep My Basement In The Winter?
Ideally, you should keep your basement at 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. It usually doesn't go any lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but maintain it within these temperatures for comfortability.
Most basements are generally cool regardless of the season. However, unfinished basements are prone to getting colder quickly, so you should insulate and increase room temperature before it affects the entire house.
Read further into warming up an unfinished basement in this post: "How To Heat An Unfinished Basement."
If your basement gets too cold, your heating system will have to work twice as hard to warm the home. To do so requires more power, resulting in higher electrical bills.
Compared to other areas in a house, a basement has more exposure to water vapor. When exposed to leakages or cool air, humidity levels increase and cause moisture collection, eventually mold and mildew growth.
Why Should I Winterize My Basement?
Several damages can occur within a home when a basement encounters freezing, affecting more than just the room itself.
Because a basement is underground, the coldness from the room moves up to other areas of the home. And so, the heating system works twice as much to regulate the temperature.
If the heating system exerts more effort than it can handle, it doubles energy costs from the increase in power it consumes and may be potentially damaged.
Further harm occurs with plumbing since frozen pipes can hinder water flow or explode.
A basement is also prone to high humidity. During colder conditions, it's more likely for water to enter the room, later causing moisture to build.
The growth of harmful bacteria follows moisture accumulation, making the basement feel mustier and dangerous for the homeowners.
4 Ways To Winterize A Basement
Basement protection levels influence several aspects within a home. It can involve the freshness and cleanliness of the basement, the overall temperature of the house, and the power usage and costs.
To prevent physical and financial damages on your part, consider these methods to prepare your basement for the cold weather:
1. Check The Gutters And Downspouts
Clogged gutters are one of the common reasons water comes into a basement. It goes through cracks or gaps when the ground next to the basement foundation experiences too much hydrostatic pressure.
Regularly cleaning your gutters is a solution, especially when foliage and debris often pile up around the home. You can also add covers or guards to keep them from clogging.
Also, it's good to make sure downspouts are about four to five feet away from the basement foundation.
2. Repair Foundation Cracks And Leaks
A crack or leak can turn into an opening allowing water to enter, but these worsen due to freezing and thawing in the winter. Thoroughly inspect around the foundation for existing cracks, inside and outside.
Foundation cracks can range in severity. Minor crevasses are quick to repair with sealant and epoxy. However, further damages may require you to contact a professional for assistance.
Fixing up splits on the basement foundation sooner saves you time and repair costs, so mend them before they start to worsen.
Get a step-by-step guide on repairing basement cracks in this post: "Hairline Cracks In Basement Walls—What To Do?"
3. Prepare And Insulate Pipes
Pipes are susceptible to freezing when left exposed under extreme weather conditions. In the cold, they could burst due to water expansion.
Wrapping exposed pipes with heat tape or cable regulate the pipe's temperature and exposure to the weather.
It's also crucial to check on outdoor faucets and water sources. Disconnect hoses, drain water from faucets and ensure you properly turn them off. Seal any leaks, even if you won't be turning faucets on.
4. Keep The Heating System In Check
It's essential to get your heating system inspected by a professional before the winter season reaches its peak. The maintenance keeps the system prepared to operate within the duration of the cold weather.
If you're dealing with an unfinished basement, this step is valuable and prevents any major issues from coming up.
On top of maintaining your home heating system, you can keep the basement warmed by using or installing basement-heating devices or applying different insulation methods.
Should Basement Vents Be Open In Winter?
Yes, basement vents should be open during the winter. Although closing vents doesn't cause immediate damage to the basement, it would be better to keep them open throughout this season.
A heating system will continue to produce heat and air pressure. Closed vents cause them to move to the ducts or other areas where they can pass through. As a result, the heat fails to reach the room.
With vents closed, the HVAC system cannot access other areas within the house. Thus, it will have to work harder to calculate the home's cooling and heating needs.
It can lead to unintentional pressure buildup, damaging and shortening the life of the HVAC system.
Delve into a deeper discussion on opening basement vents in this post: "Should Basement Vents Be Open In The Winter?"
How Do I Stop Cold Air Coming In My Basement?
Cold air usually comes in through cracks, leaks, or gaps found around the basement. You can prevent this by closing up these entrances and securing loose seals.
Repair foundation cracks as soon as possible to keep them from worsening due to the cold. To fix them, you can seal them up with caulk or get help from a professional.
Even gaps from windows and doors can let in cold air or melted ice, affecting the overall temperature within the basement.
Close these gaps and consider adding cover, especially to the windows. It helps prevent the accumulation of moisture and debris.
A basement is prone to damage if it experiences cold weather conditions unprepared. Winterizing your basement allows you to save costs on power consumption and foundation repair.
It's vital to make preparations before the winter hits to protect the basement and the rest of the home from damage due to freezing. These can be through increasing heat and insulation or closing off openings for cold air to go through.