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We are refinishing our basement, and are nearing competition. The walls are drywalled, and the ceiling is dropped. There will be about 500 sq ft of finished space, including a full bathroom, and about 300 sq ft of unfinished space. There are two existing vents from the supply heat / AC directly from the main duct supply, that I plan on extending down the few inches into the dropped ceiling tiles. No problem.

My question is that there are no cold air return vents pre-cut and should I add one? I can easily add one, but dont know if this is necessary in the basement. Someone told me that since all the duct is exposed (on the unfinished side and above the dropped ceiling) and the furnace is right in the middle of the basement, this would suffice in allow air circulation in the basement. I dont know if I but that argument.

If I do add one, I think I should add it at the floor level, not in the ceiling like the supply vents. This way the warm air (for heat) coming from the ceiling would be circulated to the floor for the return. Should I place it at the floor level?

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I'm almost certain any occupied space is required to have a supply and return duct for HVAC.

Not quite sure if you can say it's a common plenum in the basement if the furnace is in another room.

Also - I've never seen a return in the floor. On the wall and in the ceiling. This is speaking from experience working as an HVAC controls field service engineer in my previous life. Running a return should be easy, you could get some flex ducting and run it above your t-bar ceiling.

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I didn't mean IN the floor per se, I meant in the wall, toward the bottom of the wall (close to the floor). That way the return is opposite of the supply. –  mohlsen Oct 8 '10 at 18:31
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Gotcha - that makes sense. When you run cooling, this will work really well. Having the returns close to the floor will hopefully pull that warm air off the ceiling, so I think that would be far superior to having the supply and returns in the ceiling. –  kkeilman Oct 8 '10 at 18:54
    
I just demolished my basement down to the studs and there is a cold air return in the ceiling. I'm not really keen on it and plan on installing a floor return when I do the remodel. I always felt like there just wasn't enough circulation in the basement and it always felt a bit uncomfortable. –  Scott Vercuski Oct 8 '10 at 19:01
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Returns in every room are not required everywhere. Here in Virginia at least, I've never lived in a house or apartment that didn't use a single large, centrally-located return vent per heat pump unit. I think it's assumed that the door sill gaps will provide a return path for air in any closed-off rooms. –  Mike Powell Oct 8 '10 at 19:35
    
Good point - I was reverting back to commercial HVAC thinking. Each occupied space must be "ventilated" which doesn't necessarily require ducting depending on the space, et al. –  kkeilman Oct 11 '10 at 21:36
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