Heating and Cooling Your Finished Basement
So, you’re finally ready to finish your basement and add more livable space and value to your home. But, you have no idea about heating and cooling your finished basement, or what that even entails.
You may be asking questions about cost and what you should expect when collecting bids from HVAC contractors. You may have concerns on whether your current system can even handle the increased load on it. Or, you may also be wondering what type of system is ideal for your home, or if it’s even worth doing the work at all!
Whether you’ll be hiring an HVAC contractor to do the work needed, or going the DIY route, we layout the things you need to consider in this article. We also attempt to answer most of the common questions on heating and cooling your finished basement. If we don’t answer questions here, please feel free to ask in the comments section below. Or, if you’re in the Connecticut area, feel free to call us. @ (860) 818-3891.
Is Heating and Cooling Your Finished Basement Even Worth it?
The simple answer – yes! For the obvious reason, being comfortable and making the most of your investment year round. Why would you want to invest in finishing something you can only use a few months out of the year?
Let’s not also forget – designing and installing the right heating and cooling system for your basement adds value to your home. Shoddy work, or no heating or cooling at all, doesn’t do much for your homes equity, and can even cost you in the long run.
Can I Add onto my Current System, or do I Need a New One?
This isn’t an easy answer. Unless your a mechanical engineer, or an HVAC technician yourself, you’re going to need an expert to help you determine this.
There’s a lot to consider when heating and cooling your basement. The big one is, can your current system handle the additional load you’re about to put on it? If your lucky enough, you’re current system will be able to handle more capacity. Maybe you’re not as fortunate, but you still have 2 realistic options – upgrade your current system, or add an addition system that heats and cools the basement only.
If you’re adding an addition system to heat and cool your basement, you have a few options. Ductless mini split systems have really become a popular choice over the past few years, because they offer a less expensive way to heat and cool basements. They also do not require ductwork to be run, which can cut costs, AND they conserve space.
Upgrading your current HVAC system can also be a cost saving option, if you choose not to go with a ductless system. However, you’re most likely still going to need to run ductwork to your basement living areas. But beware, there can be some additional costs associated, so it’s important to understand exactly what needs to be done, when you’re collecting quotes.
Also, adding a second furnace or air conditioning unit to serve just your basement will most likely come with the cost of running additional duct work. Space may not be available to house an entire second duct system and HVAC equipment in your mechanical room however, so this may not even be an option.
What Type of HVAC System is right for My Basement and What Size do I need?
It’s really going to come down to personal preference and what options are available to you. As mentioned above, mini split systems have become increasingly popular to heat and cool basements over the past few years. But, I highly recommend having a contractor take a complete look at your needs, and the size of your basement, before recommended anything.
The size of the unit you’re going to need depends on size of area you intend to heat and cool. You don’t want to overpay for something that’s too big, and you don’t want something that’s too small either. That’ll just be a waste of your money (either way). Expect 400 to 600 square feet per ton, but this may vary, depending on your house and where it’s located. Every house can be different.
What Should I Consider When Designing a Floor Plan for my Unfinished Basement?
You currently most likely have a furnace, water heater, boiler, ventilation, or other type of HVAC or plumbing components in your unfinished basement. When designing your floor plan, you need to consider exactly how to enclose this equipment not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for functional reasons, without closing them off entirely. The best finished basements designs incorporate a utility or mechanical room to conceal this equipment.
Of course, most of this work doesn’t come without some sort of cost attached to it. You may need to relocate HVAC equipment or pipes. Let’s hope your lucky enough not to have to do that, but you might want to expect something. Most mechanical rooms at bare minimum will require ventilation. A good mechanical contractor (or even general contractor) will be versed in the local building codes and requirements and go over your options with you.
How Much Can I Expert to Pay for All of This?
Of course, that’s going to depend on what HVAC work you need done. According to HomeAdvisor, the average complete HVAC installation cost in Connecticut can vary from $7,000 and up. We recommend getting a minimum of 3 quotes, before you choose an HVAC contractor.
When choosing a contractor, do it wisely. Look at the warranties they offer, get references, and hear what others have to say about them on Google, Yelp!, The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and other review sites. In other words, do your homework! Don’t just pick a contractor on cost alone.
About the Author
Ken is the president and co-founder of County Wide Mechanical Services, LLC. He has over 15 years of experience in the HVAC and plumbing field. Ken has been instrumental in the growth of County Wide Mechanical Services in Connecticut. He believes that customer satisfaction is the backbone of the company.