Author Topic: Semi-Finishing a basement  (Read 3685 times)

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #100 on: January 14, 2023, 09:55:34 AM »
From here, it looks fantastic - that's a huge difference.

You mentioned only that you were going to paint the floor - I'd recommend looking at some cheap low to medium pile carpet/rugs to lay down to add some extra warmth. While the space looks worlds better than in the picture, it's still fairly cold/inhospitable looking. Some carpet that you won't fret over losing to a small flood would be that last boost (in addition to redistributing your furnishings).

Your basement looks great! I can appreciate all the hard work you have put into it.

A couple of ideas in case anyone is ever seeking them: The house we purchased a while back has a ceramic tile floor over the poured concrete. We use throw rugs over that and they are washable if we ever have a flood. Not a drip of leakage since we've lived there.

Walls are painted cinder block with a drop ceiling. Considering having the ceiling spray foamed to control movie room noise in the upstairs family room.

We run a dehumidifier down there. Also recently purchased a heat pump water heater which should further assist that effort.

Thank you.

Good ideas. I'm thinking of putting in a couple of indoor/outdoor carpets which can handle any flooding but is warm on the feet.

I am not going to create a movie room. The surfaces are very hard (concrete walls/floor) so the sound will be awful with the echoing. And, I've already painted the ceiling, so no spray foam now.

I have been jonesing for a heat pump furnace and water heater. But my  gas furnace and water heater were replaced months before I bought the house. I'm going to wait for a failure to replace them. Replacing them with the heat pump variants would also improve air quality in the house.

Someone previously mentioned about the humidifier, so when I did the electrical, I added an outlet close to the place I want the humidifier to be.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2023, 09:57:28 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #101 on: January 24, 2023, 03:54:11 PM »
Newton was right, a body at rest continues to remain at rest. Could not get started on the basement project once the holidays were over and the kids had gone back. Finally, got some energy and started last week.

I finally finished painting the patchy floors and it looks awesome.

Also, since i had my paint stuff out, added trim and painted the staircase. Risers are white and the treads are the same color as the basement floor. All the trim is also white. I should complete all the minor touch ups tomorrow.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #102 on: January 29, 2023, 07:18:50 AM »
I have not been very productive as I have been worrying about radon in the basement.

Just before we left on our Christmas trip, I ordered an Airthings View Radon device, which measures radon, humidity and temperature. I installed it in the basement the evening before our trip.

Just for reference, the radon levels  (pico curies/Liter  or pCi/L) that the EPA
  • Less than 2.7 -  Good, no action needed
  • Between 2.7 and 4.0  -  Fair, but if in this range for greater than 3months, may need mitigation
  • Greater than  4.0 needs remediation

What surprised me was the variation of radon based on a bunch of factors. It could change within a couple of hours. I have shown the last week and the last month graphs. Green - Good , Orange is 2.7-4.0 pCi/L, Red > 4.0 pCi/L.

A week ago, the radon levels started increasing steadily until it peaked around 5 pCi/L.   I moved the monitor to the 1st floor of the house, where we spend most of our time and it dropped to 2.0 pCi/L in about 24 hours. You can see that in the steep dropoff at the very end. So, radon is not an issue in the rest of the house. If I can reduce it in the basement, it will probably decrease in the rest of the house.
 
I have been thinking of these issues and this is what I have checked/thought of

  • The radon pump is working because the manometer shows 1.2 inches of water
  • The sump pump cover is air tight. Verified using incense sticks as a smoke puffer.
  • I have caulked the cove gap around the basement, but have not done about 12 feet behind the furnace. This could possibly be an easy entry for radon.

I do need to caulk the cove gap behind the furnace and will do that this morning.

So, I am asking my brain trust, do you have any suggestions on what to do?
« Last Edit: January 29, 2023, 07:23:35 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

CatamaranSailor

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #103 on: January 29, 2023, 08:54:22 AM »
I'm not a radon expert, but I live in an area of the country that has high radon in the soil, I have a radon mitigation system and I talked extensively with the radon contractor when he installed our system 12 years ago.

1) Radon sinks which is why it accumulates in the basement.
2) The radon system basically creates a vacuum under the slab and pumps it outside.

I know you already know this.

When out system was put into our semi finished basement we used the sump pit as well. Our measurements pre-system was 5 and after it was installed it was not measurable.

The contractor indicated that if the readings did not come down after the system was installed, he could drill holes in the slab which would effectively "break the suction" and allow air movement (hence radon movement) under the slab. We did not have to do this because like I said, it wasn't measurable after the second round of testing.

My understanding from talking with the contractor and the testing company was that radon is an issue that shouldn't be ignored, but is also nothing to get freaked out about. You are about a million times more likely to die in a car accident.
You've mitigated. Your numbers are low, even at peak. Enjoy your basement and if you want peace of mind, do a real radon test with the charcoal canister and a laboratory. The kind that measures over 90+ days.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #104 on: January 30, 2023, 05:29:53 AM »
Thanks @CatamaranSailor. I've stopped freaking out now. Appreciate the advice.

I've been thinking. We tested for radon when we got the house and the test showed 2.2 pCi/L. When I started the basement improvements, I went around the perimeter closing all mouse holes and air gaps. I may have been too successful. The fresh air from the holes in the sill plate/joist was probably equivalent to an open window of approx 1 sq ft. The lack of fresh air might be reason why the radon is higher than when we check the levels now.

I'll still try to reduce it. I have a couple of ideas
  • The radon fan is probably from construction time and is approx 30 years old. Maybe time to replace it. I'll get a professional since the fan is in the attic. Also, getting a professional would give a second opinion.
  • I always had a plan for an Energy recovery ventilator(ERV) located in the basement. I might just move this action item higher on the priority list.

I'll keep monitoring the radon levels for another couple of months before I make any changes.

Now, back to the regularly scheduled programming ;-)
« Last Edit: January 30, 2023, 07:03:46 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #105 on: January 30, 2023, 06:06:48 AM »
I mentioned ERV in the previous post, but I guess I need to expand on why I think I need to install it.

I have been amazed at the envelope of this house. It is very, very airtight and with good insulation. If there was any air leakage, it was in the basement. Also, the house is perfect for solar gain in the winter, with windows on east/south/west. All winter we have bright sun warmed rooms.

My gas company sends me a home energy report where they compare my house with equivalent homes. Similar size and around the same age.  I am showing the September reports, before I made any changes in the basement. They think I have "The most energy efficient home in their service area". Our house uses  gas for heat/hot water/range/dryer.

My older house had quite a few drafts, so I did not feel the need for an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV).  Here I have been thinking that an ERV is necessary. It should improve the air quality in the house and reduce the radon readings.

BTW, an ERV just exchanges outside and inside air, but will condition the incoming air with the outgoing air so we do not lose energy in the process.


« Last Edit: January 30, 2023, 07:11:20 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

Sibley

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #106 on: January 30, 2023, 09:02:00 AM »
Yes, if your house is that air tight you need to do something to exchange air.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #107 on: January 31, 2023, 09:46:25 AM »
Yes, if your house is that air tight you need to do something to exchange air.

Thank you. I plan to do that.

I kept the one window in the basement open just a little thru the night. The radon levels had a straight fall by morning. But this could be coincidence. I'll keep that window open for a month  and then take a decision based on the numbers.

FLBiker

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #108 on: February 06, 2023, 01:26:25 PM »
Here in Nova Scotia we typically have HRVs, which do air exchanging and heat recovery (so you don't end up pulling cold air into your heated house).  We put a new one in about a year ago and I've been happy with it.  I don't know that it's technically necessary, but it certainly improves air quality in winter months when things are all buttoned up.  And maintenance is very minimal -- we live in a semi-rural area, so our filters are typically very clean.

Sibley

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Re: Semi-Finishing a basement
« Reply #109 on: Today at 06:13:52 PM »
Yes, if your house is that air tight you need to do something to exchange air.

Thank you. I plan to do that.

I kept the one window in the basement open just a little thru the night. The radon levels had a straight fall by morning. But this could be coincidence. I'll keep that window open for a month  and then take a decision based on the numbers.

It's not just radon.

When you run the bathroom fan, you're pushing air out of the house, and it must be replaced. Same with the stove vent if it vents outside. Yes, it's minor, but air WILL get in to equalize the pressure so its better to give it a pathway you approve of.

Air quality as well. Put something smelly in a bedroom (you can pick something that smells good, just a strong odor). What happens to the odor? Without air turn over, that odor is going to linger much longer. As annoying as the higher air turnover I have is, when the litterboxes stink it means the odor clears out sooner. Take your shoes off? Stinky feet. Cleaning the bathroom? Particles in the air. Wet dog? Yep. Air turnover helps eliminate that, and right now, you don't have much.

 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!