Face it: you’re just a little bit afraid of your basement. Whether you’ve been watching too many scary movies lately or there’s just a creepy chill in the air with Halloween around the corner, your basement’s kind of frightening, isn’t it? While we may not be able to get rid of any ghosts, we can give you a few tips to make your basement slightly less eery. Bonus - these changes will help you save energy, too!
Why Are Basements So Creepy?
Many basements, especially unfinished ones, have air or water leaks, mold, dampness and humidity. Add in cobwebs in neglected spaces, creeks from people walking around in the rest of the house and low lighting, and you’ve got something right out of a horror movie.
Get Rid of Those Air Leaks
In order to eliminate air leaks, you’ll have to seal gaps and holes in the ceiling, walls and floors. These open spaces can be due to windows and doors, of course, but also pipes, vents and wiring. It’s also common for there to be gaps in the basement wall where the house frame connects with the foundation. You’ll be able to fill in smaller gaps with caulk, but larger ones will have to be fixed with insulating spray foam. If the hole is bigger than three inches, use foam board to close it off before using the foam. If the perimeter of your home’s frame has to be sealed, this should be done by a contractor. The perimeter of the frame is referred to as either a band joist or a rim joist.
Improve Your Lighting Fixtures
If incandescent bulbs aren’t brightening up your dark basement enough, you’ll want to install CFLs, or compact fluorescent light bulbs - of the energy efficient variety, of course! Alternatively, LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are also a great option. LEDs give off high quality light, last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use less energy than CFLs.
Maintain Air Ducts
If your basement’s air ducts are leaking cold or hot air, your home could be losing energy. The leaks are usually at the metal joints and they’re easy to seal. To seal, use mastic or foil tape instead of rubber adhesive, including cloth-backed rubber adhesive.
Replace Appliances and Equipment
Take a good look at the appliances in your basement - is it finally time to upgrade? Replace older equipment, like heating and cooling units, with ENERGY STAR-approved appliances. You can save over a couple of hundred dollars a year just by using energy efficient appliances and deciding to use unconventional oil.
When In Doubt, Hire a Contractor
Not sure if your basement’s costing you money on your energy bill? Have a professional contractor run diagnostic testing, preferably both before and after you make any improvements yourself. A contractor will be able to tell you if your basement is insulated correctly and if there are any suggested home improvements or equipment you should consider. They’ll also be able to let you know if all of your combustion appliances are being vented properly. Don’t hesitate to ask the contractor to help with project planning - that way, you’ll know that your DIY improvements are being done in a way that makes sense.