It’s not uncommon for people to leave their basements unfinished. Typically, homeowners with bare basements use it as a storage area for old stuff, like furniture and appliances. Sometimes, they turn it into a workshop where they can make all the mess they want.
However, more and more people are finishing their basements, utilizing every inch of their house. But because this area is unlike the rest of the house, figuring out its heating and cooling system is a project all on its own.
What is a finished basement?
Generally speaking, it looks similar to the upstairs living areas. A finished basement is more than concrete floors, foundation walls. Typically, this includes a heating and/or cooling system, an electrical system, finished floors and walls, level ceilings, and an accessible entryway.
People have been choosing to finish their basements for various reasons, usually to make the most out of their home, not just a storage space for old stuff. Finished basements become recreational rooms, additional living, entertainment areas, or an extra bedroom. Some homeowners ever turn their basements into an apartment, complete with a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom/s, renting it out and making it an income-generating space. In some cases, they do it to add value to their property.
Figuring out the client’s needs and managing construction
A. Figuring out there needs
As the contractor, you must first figure out your client’s needs before getting started on the HVAC system. While there is a lot to consider, these questions will help you narrow down what the client requires of this basement and of you.
● What is the purpose of the space? Will it be a living area? A bedroom? An apartment?
● How often will the occupants spend time down there?
● Will children and/or seniors use the space?
● Do they have pets?
● What’s the budget for space?
● Can you build on existing structures?
Having these in mind, choosing the best system for the client will come much easier.
Once you’ve narrowed down the basics and have got a plan, it’s time for construction. Whether the client chooses to add a separate unit or upgrade their existing one, you’ll need to stay on top of things to deliver on your job. Here are a few tips to successfully complete an HVAC job:
● Manage risks
● Use the proper tools
● Prioritize safety
● Effectively manage your time
● Understand the goal
Best Heating and Cooling Options For Finished Basements
Basements are harder to heat than to cool because they are underground. More than that, being the lowest level of the structure, space tends to retain moisture, making it more vulnerable to mold and mildew. With that, the humidity levels need to be kept in check.
With the abundance of heating options to explore, contractors, technicians, and clients must work together to decide which one best suits their budget, needs, and the basement’s structure.
1. Extending the current HVAC system
Having the existing system extended is often the choice residents go with, a heating and cooling solution. Be that as it may, this is not the easiest route. Several factors must be considered, the system’s capacity being the most important one, which a qualified technician will determine. Size and age are primary factors, older units are likely to be working at full capacity and increasing heating and cooling space may be too much for it to handle.
When the HVAC extension is given the green light, ductwork will now be extended to the basement. Preferably, this stage happens if the basement is still unfinished or at least in the initial construction or remodeling stages. Registers and extension can be attached to the main supply, while the return ducts and new ductwork can be hidden between the unfinished ceiling joists or within closets that are yet to be built.
In the case that the current system can’t be extended, clients have the option of upgrading it to a larger capacity and then extending.
2. Add a separate system.
Another heating and cooling option is to install another system. This means that the HVAC system will heat or cool the basement only. However, choosing to put a new heating and cooling system means additional ductwork, as well.
3. Add a fireplace
If the home already has a chimney, adding a fireplace is a considerable option. Clients have the liberty to choose among various models: the traditional wood-burning models, gas models, or the newer electric models.
Fireplaces are recommended for smaller spaces. Having one in an enormous basement might not be enough to keep the whole area warm.
4. Put a pellet stove
Pellet stoves are an excellent option for homes with a traditional and rustic theme. Not only does it have plenty of heating benefits, but it also ups the aesthetic value of the space, as well– although it does take up some space.
Other pellet stove benefits include:
● Pellet stoves are also more environmentally friendly because, unlike wood-burning stoves, they use CO2-neutral fuel.
● Only 10% of pellet energy is lost.
● With the blower system, pellet stoves don’t need a chimney.
5. Use radiant heat
While regular but quality insulation is a viable option, panels can be installed within walls and flooring that emit heat and keep things warm in winter. These panels are not only easy to implement but also relatively affordable.
6. Try space heaters
Space heaters are probably the most budget-friendly option on the list. It’s portable and no remodeling is required. They should be used with caution, however. Advice homeowners to be vigilant and carefully follow the instructions and guidelines of the product.
Cooling finished basements are easier than heating it because they are naturally cold, being underground and all. But relying on it naturally may not be enough, especially during the warmer months where humidity and heat are at their highest.
1. Extending the current HVAC system
Extending the existing HVAC system is a popular option because it can heat up and cool down the area. As mentioned above, professionals must evaluate and determine if the current one can handle the additional load. If it is, the only thing to do now extends the ductwork.
On the other hand, if the system cannot handle the load, homeowners can choose to add another unit (which also means additional ductwork) or upgrade the one they have to a bigger and more capable one.
2. Consider a ductless mini-split system.
As the name suggests, ductless mini-split systems do not need ductwork to be installed, making it a convenient and efficient option. It’s relatively easy to set up: the condenser unit is placed outside the building while the other indoor components can be placed on a wall or in the ceiling.
In addition to that, ductless systems tend to be smaller, meaning they don’t consume as much energy. In turn, homeowners can cut down costs and save money on their utility bills.
3. Try a portable air conditioning unit.
Similar to space heaters, portable air conditioners are the most cost-efficient cooling option. So, if the homeowners are conscious or worried about their finances (especially after spending on the basement’s finishing), a portable AC unit might be for them.
Since basements are naturally cold, a single unit could be enough to cool. Plus, these AC units are designed to be lightweight, making it easy to move around the space. This is particularly useful if the basement consists of multiple rooms. Residents can move it around and position the unit wherever they want and not worry about consuming too much energy and raising their electric bill.
However, the downside is that a single unit might not be enough to cool down a larger space. If the choice is to purchase a portable air conditioning unit, make sure that the residents choose a model that can adequately cool down the room. In some cases where the basement is big, they may have to buy more than one unit.
How project management software can help
No matter the size of the project, whether it’s a general contracting job on a commercial building or a simple residential installment, project management software can aid in efficiently completing it.
With Pro Crew Schedule’s HVAC Contractor Software, contractors can easily track both the project and their crew members. With the scheduling and time-tracking features, HVAC techs can time-in and -out, instantly be informed of job orders, and immediately dispatched.
Plus, real-time collaboration is made possible even if the contractor and crew aren’t in the same location. Because the software is cloud-based, essential documents can be safely stored and easily shared, increasing productivity and decreasing the risk of errors. For example, HVAC techs with a blueprint of an unfinished basement can take a photo and send it to the contractor if they need additional consultation.
With that, employing the aid of project management software proves to be beneficial on a few levels. One, productivity and efficiency are improved. Two, you’ll have a better organization as you can do away with the mess of papers.