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Community and Q&A

What is the perferred way to ventilate a basement?

Tomtt | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I built a house in VT zone 6A. The unfinished basement has a musty smell to it. The 2 floors of living space are fine.

I only have 2 (1’x2′) basement windows in the east side of the house. I’m planning on finishing the basement and looking to install a HRV ventilator for the basement only. The house is heated with radiant floor heat and wood stove. Basement is 1,400 sq ft.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    In most cases, it's not a good idea to ventilate a basement with outdoor air. Of course, if the basement is finished and becomes part of the home's conditioned space, then it should be treated like any other room of the house. If the home has an HRV, then the HRV should serve all rooms in the house, including the basement if the basement is finished.

    The source of the musty smell is probably mold. The musty smell is a sign of high indoor humidity. The solutions are the usual litany: change the grade around the outside of your house so that the grade slopes away from the house on all four sides; connect your roof gutters to conductor pipes that convey the water far from the foundation; if necessary, provide new footing drains that lead to daylight, or an interior French drain connected to a sump equipped with a sump pump.

    And, as a last resort, install a basement dehumidifier.

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