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Old 02-24-2009, 07:46 PM   #1
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Below Grade Finished Basement Stays Around 55 Degrees


Hello all,

Recently purchased a house (4 years old) in Kentucky with a finished basement (1100 sq ft.) that is almost entirely below grade. There are a couple of small windows (1'x3') and no exterior doors. It was finished by the previous owners. My concern is that it is too cold down there in the winter, hovers around 55-57 degrees no matter the temp outside (5 degrees or 40 degrees).

There is heat in it (they tied into the main furnace duct that services the 1st floor). Even with the heat and the vents open the temperature does not move. The foundation walls are poured concrete with 1x2's and foamboard behind the drywall.

Does this sound normal for it to be this cold? Do basements ever get to around 70 degrees like the rest of the house? Is the HVAC system not capable of handling the additional load? Or are there gaps/areas in the foundation walls that I can't see where foamboard wasn't placed that could account for the cold tempuratures?

Any thoughts would be appreciated, thanks!

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Old 02-24-2009, 09:07 PM   #2
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Below Grade Finished Basement Stays Around 55 Degrees


What area are you in? What size foamboard is there. It sounds like there is not enough insulation for the amount of heat allotted to the area.

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Old 02-24-2009, 09:14 PM   #3
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Below Grade Finished Basement Stays Around 55 Degrees


I'm in Kentucky. The foamboard is about 1/2".
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:27 PM   #4
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Below Grade Finished Basement Stays Around 55 Degrees


It sounds like a combination of not enough insulation and not enough heat. Without a separate or zoned heating system, the basement will always be a few degrees cooler than the main floor. 55 does seem a bit on the cool side - what temperature do you keep the main floor?

How often do you use the basement? Do you have the ability to add a electric or gas heater dedicated to the basement? Even with good insulation in my basement, it averages about 62 degrees. I added electric baseboard heaters in my basement to make winter bearable.
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:59 PM   #5
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Below Grade Finished Basement Stays Around 55 Degrees


If you want good energy efficiency in the basement, you need to put in an insulated basment floor. Your ground temperature and therefore basement slab temperature is somewhere in the 55 degree range.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 02-24-2009 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 02-25-2009, 08:11 AM   #6
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Below Grade Finished Basement Stays Around 55 Degrees


1100 SF basement? i bet you don't have the same amount of ducts in the basement that you do on the main floor though. Since its finished already getting more insulation behind the walls is not do-able..

so consider adding the electric baseboard heaters. They work great and you just turn them on when you have company down there. Or consider raising the floor off the concrete a bit. Both should yield a lot of success and you can do one one season, see the results, and do the second if you want it even warmer the next season.

pretty easy.
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Old 02-25-2009, 05:51 PM   #7
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Below Grade Finished Basement Stays Around 55 Degrees


The main floor stays between 70-72 degrees.

We don't use the basement currently for anything other than storage. I suppose I could get a couple of electric space heaters to use while down there or the baseboard heaters as suggested.

There are 4 vents in the basement plus a return. There are 9 vents on the main floor.

The basement floor has carpet (carpet + padding (pry doesn't give a lot of insulation value)).

I'm beginning to wonder if what was done to finish basement did very little to keep the cold out. In the summer, the basement is great, coolest place in the house!
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Old 02-26-2009, 05:47 AM   #8
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Below Grade Finished Basement Stays Around 55 Degrees


this is all revelation ? ? ? you patience is amazing - underground unheated ( or insufficiently heated ) spaces always reflect ambient earth temp - that's the benefit of building u-ground - a low heat-rise from 55f to 72f's all that's required,,, above grade requires comparitively more energy.

this thread reminds me of yogi berra's interview in which he was asked to name his choice of the world's greatest invention,,, he replied ' the thermos bottle ! ',,, ask'd why he picked that particular item, he said ' it keeps hot things hot & cold things cold. the interviewer's blank look prompted him to expand to the next question ' so ? ',,, yogi respond'd ' how do it know ? ' classic yogi-ism ! ! !

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Old 02-26-2009, 06:09 AM   #9
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Below Grade Finished Basement Stays Around 55 Degrees


yesitsconcrete... Are you saying it is more efficient to use a slab on grade than to use a crawlspace?
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:11 AM   #10
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Below Grade Finished Basement Stays Around 55 Degrees


did i say that ? ? ? i implied any u-ground space that's either not insulated in advance OR doesn't have a sufficient heat delivery system will be chilly.

i'd think short answer to crawl vs slab's easier,,, slab w/thicken'd edge's better IF the floor joists won't be insulated,,, IF insulated & weather-tite, i'd nod to that over the slab,,, IF the slab's plac'd on insulation board, compar'd to an uninsulated joist sys over crawl,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

oy, what was the original question, bobby ? ? ? we all know u-ground's much more energy efficient that anything else but, hell, domes're better'n conventional stick, too,,, its all bldr/owner's choice,,, i choose to live in a conventional 2-story w/block wall'd bsmt

much as i can appreciate your post, i don't think there's any answer that'd be applicable to all structures, bob.

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