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

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With basements, it's common to have issues with air quality. Basements can harbor dust, moisture, and unpleasant odors. Usually, these problems require more than just regular cleaning. You may be wondering whether or not you air out your basement. We've asked the experts, and here is what they have to say.

A basement should be kept well-ventilated at all times to maintain its condition. Unlike other parts of a home, a basement is located underground, meaning there's more exposure to mold and bacteria growth caused by moisture buildup. One way to counter this problem is by ensuring that the basement is properly ventilated. To do so, try the following:

  • Opening windows and exterior doors
  • Adding an air purifier or dehumidifier
  • Installing exhaust fans
  • Locating and repairing leaks

Ventilation plays a vital role in basement maintenance. Without it, you may have to deal with musty odors and further issues due to moisture growth. Keep reading to learn more about how to handle ventilation and the effects that come with it.

A window on the basement, Should You Air Out A Basement? [And How To]

The Importance Of Airing Out A Basement

Without proper ventilation, a basement may suffer complications associated with moisture. Airing out the basement is important for these reasons:

Reduces Humidity Levels

The main issue with a basement is controlling moisture levels. Most of the problems you encounter in the room are likely tied to this. While it is a natural occurrence, especially for an area underground, you can counter this with a suitable ventilation system.

Giving more room for air to flow regulates the movement of humid air between indoors and outdoors instead of keeping it trapped inside. Ventilation devices also help to facilitate this movement.

Keeps Air Fresh

Airing out basements reduces how much dust flows around the room and into the house. Room for circulation eliminates some of these particles, keeping the air fresh and promoting good air quality. The same principle applies to unusual odors, along with the use of deodorizers.

Protects Belongings From Damage

Items stored in the basement can be damaged if exposed to excessive moisture. Airing out a basement lowers the chances of moisture damage, thus keeping any belongings in good shape.

How To Air Out A Basement

Unfinished concrete floor construction of basement

Improving basement ventilation can be done through several techniques and methods:

Opening Windows And Exterior Doors

Natural ventilation costs you the least. It simply requires you to keep any windows and doors open to allow air to circulate freely around the area.

Unlike the other methods, this is conditional and may cause more harm to the room if you open the windows and doors under unsuitable weather conditions.

Adding An Air Purifier Or Dehumidifier

Some devices available can improve the cleanliness and condition of the air in the basement. One of these is an air purifier, which cycles the air in the room and eliminates harmful particles by filtering them. They work well for basements without windows or openings.

Click here to see this air purifier on Amazon.

On the other hand, dehumidifiers reduce moisture levels by extracting water vapor from the air.

Installing Exhaust Fans

If your basement has a bathroom, there's a good chance that moisture builds up from all the water. Installing an exhaust fan is one way to expel this moisture, especially if there are no windows or vents.

If you need help deciding whether you should install an exhaust fan, read through this post: Does A Basement Bathroom Need An Exhaust Fan?

Locating And Repairing Leaks

Basement leaks can become a problem in the long run because they facilitate moisture damage. In this case, it's best to locate the source of the leak and repair it as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the leak, you might have to seek professional help.

Get more insight on how to repair basement leaks in this post: Can You Fix A Leaky Basement From The Inside?

Is It Better To Leave Basement Windows Open Or Closed?

It's better to leave basement windows open when there are no other means of keeping the room ventilated. Closing them off should only be done if the room can still be ventilated by another method. However, opening windows is recommended to promote natural airflow.

This method involves indoor and outdoor air. So, consider the conditions of the outside air before leaving windows open for long periods of time. Keep in mind that the air outdoors should be colder than the air indoors to prevent condensation.

Window with water drops closeup

Should Basement Windows Be Open In Winter?

The best time to open basement windows for 15 to 20 minutes a day is during the winter. During the winter, the outside air is cooler than the inside air, which means it's the perfect time to open the windows.

During the summer, the air is more humid. Opening windows can help eliminate pollutants and odors, but keeping them open for too long causes condensation. As a result, the indoor humidity level will rise and the basement will become damp.

How Do I Get Rid Of Moisture In My Basement?

A recommended option in getting rid of moisture in basements is by using a dehumidifier. For rooms without other openings, this device plays a role in ventilation by reducing water vapor levels in the air.

Adding a dehumidifier on top of opening windows and doors can produce better results.

Other methods include using waterproof building materials or sealing ceilings, floors, and walls for increased protection. If there are any leaks, it's best to get these fixed up immediately before moisture starts to build up.

If you're considering adding a vapor barrier, look into this post: Does A Basement Ceiling Need A Vapor Barrier?

What Causes A Basement To Smell Musty?

Unpleasant odors in the basement usually come from the growth of mold and mildew with the buildup of moisture. Leaving them to spread will only cause the scent to get stronger and make the air unhealthy.

Plumbing problems are another possible reason for odd smells because of sewage. If there are signs of rodent activity in the room, the odor may also come from their urine or feces.

Remove or repair the sources of these odors immediately to prevent damage to belongings and respiratory-related harm. Consider regularly cleaning to manage the smell while getting rid of these harmful substances.

How Do You Deodorize A Basement?

Keeping a basement fresh can be done through different methods. The simplest solution is through deodorizers throughout the room. Other methods include:

Baking Soda Or Vinegar

Place bowls of baking soda in different parts of the basement. These will absorb the odors and moisture.

Deep Cleaning

Thoroughly cleaning the basement allows you to get rid of items that have been infested with mold or have trapped odor. You can use different cleaners to wipe out both dirt and unpleasant smells on surfaces and objects in the room.

In Closing

You can achieve better airflow by airing out a basement. Proper ventilation is essential in maintaining a fresh basement. In doing so, harmful pollutants are released, and moisture levels decrease.

A common problem in having a basement is dealing with moisture. It may cause the buildup of mold, mildew, and other harmful bacteria, causing musty odors to spread.

By airing out basements with natural and mechanical methods, you can keep your basement smelling fresh.

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