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sarbear 11-16-2009 06:12 PM

Light, Ventilation, and Heating code requirements
My husband and I are finishing part of our basement. We are just doing the landing from the stairs and the Media room and leaving the bathroom and bedrooms unfinished, but blocking them off with walls and doors. The total finished area will be 440 sq.ft. with the Media room being 360 sq. ft.

I just got off the phone with the code compliance guy for the city and am still a little confused. He says I need to follow the 2006 IRC code R303.1. It says habitable rooms need 8% glazing and 4% ventilation. Our media room doesn't have a window (there are windows for the unfinished bedrooms). So from what I understood we don't need a openable window as long as we have enough light and enough ventilation.

the code says if " an approved mechanical ventilation system capable of producing 0.35 air change per hour in the room is installed or a whole-house mechanical ventilation system is installed capable of supplying ourdoor ventilation air of 15 cubic feet per minute per occupant..." then you don't have to haven an openable windows. And we don't need windows at all if we have enough light - "6 foot candles (65lux) over area at the height of 30 in."

So here's the question/problem, how do we figure if we have enough ventilation considering that we have two registers and 1 intake planned (to add on to the existing house hvac)? How do I know if I have enough light planned? and Why is he saying that I need to put in a fan or some sort of outdoor ventilation?

beenthere 11-16-2009 07:43 PM

By ventilation. They mean FRESH AIR. Not just the recirculated air from your furnace.

So you need to install a fresh air ventilation system. Or, a window.

As for light. Electrical supply hoses can tell you that. If you tell them what lights you have.
They may not tell you, if you didn't buy the lights from them though.

In which case. You may want to post your lighting question in the electrical forum.

sarbear 11-16-2009 11:04 PM

So media rooms without windows have to have a "fresh air ventilation system?" Like a bathroom fan? I've never seen a fan like a bathroom fan in a media room before... although with some of my husbands friends, it might not be a bad idea.

Thank you for the quick response by the way. I appreciate your help.

beenthere 11-17-2009 04:24 AM

The inspector may not allow an exhaust fan. Since you still would not have a source for fresh air to enter the room.

So you will want to check with him. Generally they want fresh air forced into the room.

Or, a device like this added to your heating system.
Which is then set up when to open and close. And brings fresh air into your whole house.

sarbear 11-19-2009 03:20 PM

So the inspector came today. We decided to wait it out and see what he said. The city plan reviewer guy was the one that brought up the ventilation issue. The inspector couldn't have cared less if we had fresh air ventilation as long as our room had heating vents. He said he was surprised it was noted on the plan by the plan reviewer as inspectors don't usually care about that to this degree.

Thanks for your input "beenthere" I can see the benefit of a fresh air ventilation system but the extra cost in both materials, work and heating and cooling costs don't seem to justify it at this time.

Scuba_Dave 11-19-2009 03:37 PM

If you have HVAC ducts then air from the rest of the house will enter the area
If fresh air is entereing the rest of the house then it will be circulated thru the house
We have forced hot water, so no air exchange being pushed thru the house
Is there a return in there too ?

beenthere 11-19-2009 03:44 PM


Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave (Post 355338)
If you have HVAC ducts then air from the rest of the house will enter the area
If fresh air is entereing the rest of the house then it will be circulated thru the house
We have forced hot water, so no air exchange being pushed thru the house
Is there a return in there too ?

How many of your rooms don't have any windows?

Scuba_Dave 11-19-2009 03:49 PM

If I built a media room in the basement it would not have a window
Right now only 1 room doesn't have a window, plus utility room (doesn't count)
I like windows & skylights

beenthere 11-19-2009 03:54 PM

It is in the code book, to have ventilation in any occupied room, that doesn't have a window.

Utility room doesn't count, as you pointed out.

Yoyizit 11-19-2009 04:54 PM


Originally Posted by sarbear (Post 353956)
"6 foot candles (65lux)"


resi. living room 50
resi. toilets, hallways, 80 to 100

Two 32w 4' tubes in a troffer in a 20'x20' room will give 600 lux on an 8 sq. ft. surface 5' directly below it, and it drops down to half that value at the edge of a 7'x7' area below the fixture and down to 20 lux at the corners of the room.

7 ea. 60w incand. bulbs in that room will give you a more even distribution of 65 lux light.

You can also use a camera as a light meter to check your lighting [I haven't tested this method yet].

jogr 11-19-2009 05:18 PM

If your media room is going to be occupied by very many people at once you're going to wish you had good air exchange. In the middle of winter with the temps 20 degrees outside I've had to open the windows to cool off the Living Room and get fresh air in when my teenagers had a dozen friends over to watch movies. It's remarkable how fast a group of people and a few electronics can heat up a room.

Yoyizit 11-20-2009 12:13 PM

BTW, the elec. power default value for lighting circuits is, I think, 3 VA per foot.

440 ft² x 3 VA/ft²= 1320 VA.

A 60w bulb is 60 VA, so your elec. supply can power 1320/60 = 22 ea. 60w bulbs, giving you ~200 lux.

sarbear 11-30-2009 11:10 AM

As far as lighting goes, the ceilings are 9 foot and we put in 5 can lights and a wall light. I think that will be enough.

There are two registers and a return air in the hallway adjacent. There are two windows in the basement, just in the bedroom areas that are unfinished.

Anyway, the inspector passed it off and we will be getting the insulation passed off this week and will start drywalling.

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