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How Do I Improve the Quality of Basement Air?

Toxic molds can spread rapidly on materials that are porous or organic.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
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  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2014
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Improving the quality of basement air can be a challenge, especially in basements with little to no ventilation. In homes that want to make use of this space for a playroom, den or extra bedroom, addressing the air quality is a must. Fortunately, there are several ways to make it possible to minimize the amount of mold and mildew in the space, and expel the musty air while also allowing a flow of fresh air in basement spaces.

One of the first steps necessary to improve the quality of basement air is to install some type of vent system that will help expel stale air from the space while allowing fresh air into the basement. A simple heating and cooling system with an air return will help accomplish this goal. By constantly replacing the air in the basement, the musty scent will begin to subside and eventually dissipate altogether.

In some cases, installing a heating and cooling system may not be practical, such as when renting a home. For basements that sport small windows along the ceiling line, consider purchasing two small fans. Adjust the settings so one fan can pull air out of the room and the other can pull in fresh air from outside. Fans of this type are relatively inexpensive and can often be mounted in the frames of the small windows. While not an ideal solution, this approach does work well in climates with moderate temperatures and relatively little rainfall.

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For people who live in humid areas, mold and mildew are common problems in basements of all sizes. In order to help minimize this, it is important to treat and seal the basement walls. Compounds of this type will create a barrier that prevent moisture from seeping into the walls and puddling at various points along the wall surface. Using a sealant on concrete or brick basement walls will go a long way toward improving the quality of basement air as well as make it easier to prepare the walls for paint or wallpaper if that is part of your overall plans for the d├ęcor.

Keeping the space clean is also important to improving the quality of basement air. Use non-toxic cleaners on all surfaces regularly as one way to keep the area as fresh as possible. This includes washing any linens that are in use in the area, and dusting the basement regularly. Taking the time to vacuum carpeting, as well as sweeping and mopping tile floors with a fresh smelling non-toxic cleaner will also go a long way toward keeping the basement air healthier and pleasant.

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turquoise
Post 3

@serenesurface-- An electric heater might work too. These tend to dry out air. I don't have great ventilation in the basement either and my sister lives down there. What we do is just open the window for a few hours every day to let fresh air in. The climate isn't very humid here so it works fine.

stoneMason
Post 2

@serenesurface-- That is a difficult situation.

You see, the kind of changes required to permanently improve basement air cannot be undertaken by an occupant. A ventilation system needs to be put in or the current one needs to be changed. There are also materials that should be used on the walls and floors to keep moisture and mold out. The article already mentioned these. Unless your landlord was willing to allow you to have these done and cut it from your rent payment, you can't possibly invest so much money as a renter.

The best you can probably do right now is to get a dehumidifier. These are portable, you just plug them in and they dehumidify the air. This won't be as good as a ventilation system but it should get rid of the moisture and odor a little bit. Also, if possible, keep the basement door that leads to the upstairs of the house open for more dry air.

You might also want to stop by a home improvement store and ask someone who works there for advice. There might be some cheap materials you could use to keep the moisture out without breaking the bank.

serenesurface
Post 1

I'm renting a basement. It's my bedroom and also has a kitchen and bathroom. I've spoken to my landlord about the damp air. The moisture causes that odor that is usually associated with basements. It wasn't as bad when I moved in because it was summer and the windows were open which I suppose helped. But now in winter, it seems to be getting worse and worse. My landlord isn't interested in doing anything about it. What can I do?

Fans won't help because it will be freezing in here if I keep the windows open.

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