15 Tips For Making a Basement Warm

A warm cozy basement family room or bedroom makes for a more comfortable and livable home. Unfortunately, many basements remain cool and damp after finishing. They require supplemental heat to be truly comfy.

15 Tips For Making a Basement Warm

Why Basements Are Cold

Many things conspire to keep basements cool.

  • Location. The basement is at the bottom of the house and warm air rises.
  • Heating. Many home heating systems are inadequate to fully heat the basement.
  • Poor Insulation. Many basements lack sufficient insulation to retain heat.
  • Air Infiltration. Poorly fitting windows. Gaps and cracks.
  • Humidity. High humidity makes basement air feel cold, drafty, and damp.

15 Ways to Warm Up a Basement

Thermal imaging cameras can be purchased for less than $100.00. They show cold spots in the basement that require attention.

Replace Drafty Windows

Basement windows are often small and single-glazed in rotting wood frames. Fixing drafty windows, replacing them, or covering them with plastic, tight curtains, or even plywood reduces heat loss and moisture infiltration.

Seal Gaps

Use spray foam to seal gaps around windows, doors, and wall penetrations. Plumbing, electrical, and heating penetrations to the upper floors should also be sealed to keep warm air in the basement.

Duct and Pipe Insulation

Dryer vents, cold air intakes, bathroom vents, and gas lines that penetrate the exterior wall conduct cold air into the basement. Not only should the holes be sealed but insulating ductwork and the pipes prevent cold and condensation.

Insulate Rim Joists

Insulate rim joists with DIY spray foam or rigid foam board insulation. Warm air rises to the basement ceiling and uninsulated rim joists allow it to escape outside.

Install a Ceiling Fan

A ceiling fan installed in the basement and operated in reverse circulates warm air back down towards the floor and moves it throughout the room.

Modify the Heating System

Many basement heating system vents and air returns are located in the basement ceilings–preventing much of the warm air from efficiently reaching the floor and seating areas. Extending ducts to the floor keeps basements warmer.

Purchase a Dehumidifier

The ideal basement humidity level is 30% in winter. Higher humidity makes basements feel cool and clammy. A good portable dehumidifier removes many pints of moisture per day and can be adjusted to maintain a constant humidity level. Arrange to drain it directly into the floor drain to eliminate the need to empty the container.

Add Electric Baseboard Heaters

Locate portable electric baseboard heaters in bedrooms or family rooms. They are virtually silent and provide heat at floor level where basements are usually coldest.

Use Portable Space Heaters

Space heaters are ideal for smaller areas like bedrooms. They are quiet and easy to move where needed. Also less expensive than baseboard heaters. Most of them are quiet and can be aimed exactly where wanted–like a bed or reading area.

Put Down Area Rugs

Area rugs do not add heat but prevent cold from coming up through floors. They are especially effective when combined with thick underlayment on concrete floors. Taping 6 mil poly on the floor first prevents moisture from wicking into the carpet. (Moist carpets will grow mold.)

Radiant Wall Heaters

Radiant wall heaters are not portable. They are screwed onto the wall and plugged into a 120-volt outlet. An easy DIY installation. Radiant heaters provide quick silent warmth and are cool to the touch.

Electrical Heat Mats

Electrical heat mats are designed to be placed under carpet, tile, stone, and luxury vinyl plank to warm smaller areas like bathrooms. They are thermostatically controlled and are plugged into a regular outlet or hard-wired.

Add Insulation

Insulating basement walls, floors, and ceilings is a major project. Doing it all in an unfinished basement makes sense. Tearing out a finished basement to install better insulation is a costly project.

Install a Fireplace Or Wood-Burning Stove

Gas or electric fireplaces or wood-burning stoves provide great heat to open-concept basements where the heat can flow throughout the space. They are expensive and usually require professional installation and inspections.

Install Radiant In-Floor Heating

Basement floor heating is the best way to keep a basement warm. It provides consistent heat from the floor up and is most often installed during construction with the concrete floor poured over it. Floor heating can also be added over existing concrete.