If you finished your basement to give yourself more living space, you'll probably want to air condition it for the warm summer months. Here's what you need to know about adding air conditioning to your basement.
Understanding the Cooling Load
The cooling load refers to the amount of cooling capacity needed to effectively cool a space. Several factors come into play when determining the cooling load of a basement and whether you can use your existing air conditioner or will need to install an upgraded or separate unit to cool your basement.
First, consider the size of your basement. A larger basement will require a higher cooling capacity compared to a smaller one. Additionally, assess the level of insulation in your basement. Good insulation keeps the heat out and requires a smaller cooling capacity.
Another factor to consider is the number of windows in your basement. Windows can contribute to heat gain during hot weather especially when they receive direct sunlight.
Further, consider any heat-generating appliances or electronics in the basement. Appliances—such as a refrigerator, home theater system, water heater, or furnace—can all add heat that increases your cooling needs.
When adding air conditioning to a finished basement, you also need to think about the existing ductwork in your home. Your basement probably won't have ducts, and your home's existing ducts may not run nearby.
In some cases, you may be able to extend your ducts. In other cases, there may not be a good way to reach your basement, or your central air conditioner may not be able to handle an extension. If it's not possible to extend your ducts, you may want to consider a separate window unit or ductless air conditioner just for your basement.
Basements usually get more humidity compared to other areas of the house. Before adding air conditioning, it's essential to address any existing moisture problems because an air conditioner can only remove so much humidity.
Waterproofing the basement is an important first step. This may involve sealing cracks, applying waterproof coatings to the walls, or installing a sump pump if necessary. Proper insulation is also important since condensation that creates humidity often forms around poorly insulated areas.
You may also want to install a dehumidifier to help control the humidity in your basement. The advantages of a professional installation are that your dehumidifier can work together with your new air conditioner and the water can be piped out instead of you having to empty the dehumidifier.
Contact a local HVAC service to learn more about AC installation.