Winterizing a Basement
Winterize Your Basement to Improve Efficiency and Protect Key Systems
Your house is probably well-prepared to withstand winter weather save for one room – the basement. Many people simply stick a towel or other insulating device under the basement door and leave it at that. Aside from not being very effective, this tactic isn't doing your home and some of its most vital components any good. Continue reading to learn what proper basement winterizing entails and how much it costs.
Why Should I Winterize My Basement?
Most homes’ utilities, including furnaces and boilers, are located in the basement. When these appliances are cold, they use much more energy to operate. Other reasons to properly insulate a basement include:
- A home’s ground level living space is connected to the basement ceiling. If not properly insulated, the ceiling can transfer cold air to the upstairs and hamper efforts to heat the house.
- Plumbing pipes can potentially freeze in an un-insulated basement, especially if they’re not used for an extended period (i.e. a long vacation).
Basement Winterizing Options
Although it may not seem like a winter priority, you should begin by waterproofing the basement. During warmer weather, water in the basement can cause insulation and framing to mold and rot, necessitating replacement at some point. When temperatures drop below freezing, water turns into ice, and expanding ice can cause cracks in basement walls. Waterproofing eliminates these potential problems and ensures that the area remains warm and dry throughout the year. Other projects recommended for getting your basement winter-ready include:
- Install double-paned replacement windows in place of any existing drafty windows.
- Make sure that exterior doors are properly weatherstripped.
- All exterior protrusions (pipes, ductwork, etc.) should be thoroughly inspected and properly insulated with an expanding foam or similar product.
- Basement walls can be insulated with a bit of framing and moisture-proof backer board. Fiberglass insulation is not recommended unless there is no chance of water or moisture forming on the walls.
- Floors should be insulated with dead air space. With some framing and plywood, an insulating dead air space is created between the concrete floor and the basement floor. Keep in mind that this should only be done if you have a completely waterproof basement.
- If your basement is dry or has a dehumidifier, insulating the basement ceiling with rolled fiberglass insulation is recommended.
Basement Winterizing Costs
Please note that actual costs vary from state to state. The following prices are based on national averages.
- Waterproofing a basement can cost as little as $50 and as much as $30,000 depending on the work required.
- Replacing a basement window costs $200 to $400, including installation. The type of unit chosen will determine the actual price.
- Insulating walls and floors with dead air space using framing and backer board or plywood costs $4 to $6 per square foot of wall space.
- Insulating exterior protrusions using expanding foam as a DIY project costs $5-$7 per can. Two cans are usually enough for an average basement. Hiring a professional to perform this task can cost $50-$100 based on the number of protrusions.
- Insulating a basement ceiling using rolled fiberglass costs $200 to $400 depending on the basement size.