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Question DetailsAsked on 8/4/2014

Any way to get basement temp up?

I just purchased a home last year and we had a cold winter up here in Michigan. During the winter my basement was staying at around 40 degrees! The rest of my house was at 66 or so, but was hard to keep warm. I know that warm air gravitates to cold, but would sealing the rim joist with foam make a big enough difference in the down stairs temp? Note that there are heat ducts in the basement.

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Actually, warm air does not gravitate to cold - it rises above cold, and of course to any leaks that let it escape at higher elevations in the house.

Having heat ducts in the basement does not mean they are putting out enough heat - and if in the ceiling as usual, unless there is a fan mixing the air in the area it will feel cold because the air will enter and exit at ceiling level, especially if you do not have a fairly airtight door at the top of the basement stairs.

Sealing the rim joists can make a difference (and is easy to do yourself if exposed, using spray foam to seal the joints then a layer of foil faced fiberglass insulation), but unless quite leaky nowhere near a major component in the system - your big heat losses are usually the exposed foundation wall if it is not covered with an insulated wall,and to a lesser extend the foundation slab, especially if exposed. in many houses, leaks in the first floor flooring also cause loss of much of the basement heat.

To deliberately attack this issue, you would need to get an energy audit done, including an infrared camera scan of the house for cold spots and air leaks.

With your basement staying around 40 degrees in winter (which is dangerously cold for pipes), I would guess you have significant air inflow to the basement from outdoors, probably because the furnace is sucking the air in from outside. This could actaully be an indication that you have too little circulation with the rest of the house, or that your return air vents are closed or blocked so it is pulling in cold outdoor air for combustion. It could also mean you have a connected crawlspace with the normal screened vents (under living room or garage maybe) that is communicating with the basement and pouring cold air into it.

And energy audit could address these issues - or you could take a first shot at it yourself with a rented thermal scanning imager from Home Depot (just starting a rental program) or a tool rental place at about $40 per 1/2 day to $70 range per day. Watch the instructional videos before renting, and it can show you a lot of your more serious air leak areas without any professional training.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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