For questions generally relating to habitable spaces in a home below ground level, and to foundation types that include a space of this type.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

36
votes
8answers
79k views

Should I use a subfloor for a finished basement's floor?

We are refinishing our basement and have not yet decided what to do for the floors. Part of the basement will be tile, and we are all set. However, the rec room side is going to be carpet. The ...
29
votes
10answers
9k views

Is this cracking foundation under a jack post a problem that requires repair?

I am buying an already-built new home. I find this in the basement. The builder says it's okay, but I am really concerned. Is this really a big issue? What steps would be required to repair it? This ...
26
votes
7answers
58k views

Should I use steel or wood studs for basement exterior walls?

Related: When should you use metal studs? I'm planning on finishing my basement. (assuming all water issues are resolved) I'll be putting up a water barrier (tar paper) on all exterior walls, ...
22
votes
1answer
1k views

What is this bolt in my basement floor?

In my concrete basement floor, there is a rather large bolt and washer. The washer is about 4 inches in diameter, and the bolt has a 1 inch head. What is it? All I can think of is that it's some ...
21
votes
7answers
293k views

What humidity should I set my dehumidifier to?

I just bought a 50 pint dehumidifier for my basement. What humidity level should I aim for? This time of year the outside humidity is very high (over 80%) and we do not have central air. Right now ...
20
votes
9answers
123k views

I have a basement floor with lots of moisture, can I paint or seal it to make it waterproof?

My basement has a slight dampness issue, where if I leave things on the floor they will get wet. There are no leaks and no standing water, the moisture seems to be wicking up through the concrete. I ...
20
votes
1answer
20k views

Humidity Levels

What is a healthy and safe humidity level that I should try to keep my house at?
19
votes
5answers
20k views

What is the best way to incrementally finish an unfinished basement?

my wife and I are in the process of buying our first house. The house has a 750 square foot unfinished basement (cinderblock walls and concrete floor), and is brand new (rather, it will be brand new ...
19
votes
1answer
15k views

Are cracks in a newly poured concrete basement floor a problem?

I'm having a new home built and found a large crack in the newly poured concrete basement floor and wanted to see if it's something I should be concerned about. The floor was poured sometime in the ...
16
votes
2answers
944 views

Is it better to waterproof a basement from the outside or the inside?

Is it better to waterproof a basement from the outside or the inside? I've heard different things about this. We have a home built in the 40's on a cinder-block foundation. One side of the house is ...
14
votes
3answers
8k views

How much damage can a grow-op do to a house in 3 months?

There is a home for sale about 10% lower than market value in the area in which we're shopping for a home. When we visited, the real estate agent disclosed that renters had used the basement as a ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

Does a bedroom have to have a closet?

I'm finishing my basement (actually its the second basement I've finished). And I've built what I think is a bedroom in the basement. I had the ELECTRICAL inspector in here the other day and as he's ...
14
votes
5answers
13k views

What is the recommended home design software? [duplicate]

I am going to be finishing my basement. I would like to design the new basement myself using design software. What is the recommended home design software?
13
votes
3answers
4k views

Why did they hammer nails in half way and bent them over to secure supports?

In my 1950s house they hammered nails in half way and bent them over to secure the supports to the beam. Why was this technique used?
12
votes
4answers
55k views

What is the proper way to run wires along/across basement ceiling joists?

I want to add an electrical outlet in my unfinished basement. It makes sense to run the wire along the ceiling because that's where all the other wires are. What is the proper way to install NM ...
12
votes
4answers
10k views

Does XPS+OSB subfloor need to be anchored?

Mike Holmes is a big fan of OSB/plywood over 1" XPS for basement floors, though his book leaves something to be desired in terms of details. His book says: ...on top of the foam, you want to have ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

What are our options for carpeting the basement of a split-level house?

The basement level of our house (1/2 below grade) is currently just vinyl tile on concrete slab. It's cold during the winter, so we would like to carpet it. We do not get water penetration through ...
10
votes
5answers
41k views

Safe way to close gaps around copper pipes?

I have baseboard heaters in my main living space. I can't see for sure without taking the covers off (which I haven't done yet) but it appears 2 copper pips come up from the basement (through the ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Would you expect a plumber to put up plastic to contain dust for a basement bathroom rough-in?

I've read through other posts on basement bathroom rough-ins, but haven't found anything. Yesterday, a reputable plumber used a jack hammer to break up concrete in a basement bathroom being added to ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are there metal tabs protruding from my poured concrete foundation walls?

What are these metal things sticking out from my basement walls? Can they be removed? If so, how?
10
votes
4answers
77k views

How do you secure wood framing to a concrete basement floor?

I'm using Pressure treated lumber for the bottom plate in a basement finishing project. What should I use to seperate the wood from the concrete? What are ways to secure the bottom plate to the ...
9
votes
2answers
16k views

Do I need an egress bedroom window if I have a walk-out exterior door?

I have a basement with three hopper windows and a walk-out door. There's also a staircase that connects the basement with the upper (main) floor of the house. If I build a bedroom, do I need an ...
9
votes
2answers
12k views

How can I level my basement floor, which has a 4-inch dip?

I googled today on how to level a basement floor. Most people recommend using SLC (self leveling concrete)... I don't think I can just use that because of the pitch of my floor (and from what I hear, ...
9
votes
3answers
27k views

How can I prepare uneven concrete basement floor for vinyl planks?

I have roughly 600 sq ft of basement that needs new flooring after some unfortunate flooding this past summer. We had carpet over concrete and are now looking to lay vinyl planks down. There is about ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

How do I maintain air quality in a newly finished basement of a 1925 home with no ductwork?

I just bought a house built in 1925 but it has just been professionally renovated, including finishing the basement as living space. The home has a boiler for radiator and baseboard heat. There is no ...
8
votes
4answers
6k views

Can I install tiles directly over a concrete floor in my basement?

We are redoing our basement. In some areas (bathroom and laundry room) I plan on putting tile down. The basement is dry and level. Can I attach the tile directly to the basement floor?
8
votes
3answers
42k views

Should we install carpet before the baseboard and door casings?

We just had a carpet layer come in for measurements and a quote. We've not put in the baseboard or door casings yet, but the carpet layer has suggested that this will make things easier. Is this true ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

How do I install a new, non load bearing wall in my basement?

I'm looking to finish my basement and simply want to wall off the concrete blocks that make up the wall. I want to insulate it as well so that it becomes a usable family room when I'm done. How do I ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Should I insulate steam pipes in the basement?

I have a steam-radiator heating system. The furnace is in the (unfinished) basement, and the steam-carrying steel pipes spread out across the basement ceiling before going up into the rest of the ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Mortar (or something) falling out of basement brick wall

In my basement, there is a powdery, bright white substance between some of the bricks. It looks like it was something applied on top of the mortar joint. I scraped a couple places where it was falling ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Do drain pipes (house to sewer) freeze?

My basement drain is backing up a bit recently. Before I call a plumber, or rent an electric sewer snake from Home Depot, can sewer pipes freeze? It is January after all (and my house is in Canada).
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Can I use Romex in an unfinished basement or attic?

I am asking in reference to articles 382.2 & 382.12 in the 2008 edition of NFPA-70. The following definition appears to me to be describing Romex (NM-type) cabling: **382.2 Definitions** ...
8
votes
2answers
14k views

How should I drain water from a basement dehumidifier?

Our basement has had difficulty with water in the past, from intrusions through the side (fixed by gutters) and chimneys (fixed by chimney caps). Most recently, however, water has been collecting on ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

How should I insulate my basement?

My basement is CMU blocks and concrete floor. I had water issues, so I waterproofed it with an interior french drain, drainboard at the edge and a sump pump. This wouldn't take care of dampness so I ...
7
votes
7answers
12k views

Is insulating an unfinished basement worth it? If so, how should I go about it?

I have an unfinished, well waterproofed basement with cinderblock walls and a concrete floor. All but the top 6 inches / 15 cm or so is underground. Would it be worth insulating the walls down there? ...
7
votes
4answers
12k views

How do I install cabinets on a floating hardwood floor?

We just purchased a bunch of cabinets for installation of a bar / kitchenette in the basement. There are 4 wall cabinets and four base cabinets. These are going to be installed on the existing ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Would running a band saw or cnc machine in my basement be safe?

I'd like to get a band saw and drill press but I don't have room in my garage so I'd like to put it in my basement. The problem is I don't have any ventilation to remove sawdust so would having it in ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

How can I reclaim heat from an enclosed furnace room?

Our home has two furnaces (oil fired hot air) and an electric water heater in an enclosed room (approx 6'6" x 9'). Three walls of the room divide it from the remainder of a finished basement, the ...
7
votes
1answer
784 views

How do I get a cement patch in my basement to dry quickly in humid conditions?

After patching the stone foundation in the basement with with regular drying mortar/cement, how do I get the cement to dry quickly if the basement is damp from humidity?
7
votes
5answers
15k views

Which way should a door between the garage and basement swing?

Looked everywhere for proper answer. We have a 2 car garage attached to the basement. This house is old, built in 1968, we purchased this 2 years ago and were renovating here/there. We just ...
7
votes
2answers
444 views

Basement Insulation

I am currently insulating my basement. I left the studs far enough away from the concrete wall so I can put r20 in without it compressing. My main question is there is enough space between the studs ...
7
votes
4answers
697 views

Do I have to periodically pour water down my basement floor drain to maintain the p-trap water seal?

There is a sewer smell coming from my basement. There are only a couple entries to the sewer in the basement: A laundry sink that acts as the drain for a water softener (which regenerates every few ...
7
votes
5answers
5k views

How many Tapcons should be used to anchor a baseplate to a concrete floor?

I'm building a non-structural wall in my basement. I'm using Pressure-treated lumber on top of a foam sill gasket to protect from any moisture. How many tapcons should be used per 8-foot length to ...
7
votes
3answers
8k views

What should I do about ceiling tiles that potentially contain asbestos?

A family member is considering purchasing a house, built in the Midwestern United States in 1958. In the basement, there are nine inch ceiling tiles on the ceiling. The home inspection mentioned that ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Does 100 yr old concrete floor need replacing?

Our house was built in 1905 and the concrete floor is uneven and gets a lot of moisture at times. We replaced the gutters which helped a little. We'd like to finish the basement, maybe use stained ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Solutions for a moist basement?

I live close to the water and there is a high water table around my house. Therefore a lot of water vapor passes through the basement walls. I would like to be able to store stuff in my basement and ...
7
votes
1answer
55k views

How do I calculate the size of electric baseboard heater needed?

I'm working on finishing our basement which does not have any duct work to tie into for heating, so we're planning on using electric baseboard heaters. How do I calculate the needed size of heater ...
7
votes
1answer
11k views

How should I build a raised subfloor for my basement bathroom?

I've ripped out the bathroom in my basement that was finished by the previous homeowner. I'm now rebuilding, and curious to the most correct way to go about this. The whole basement was finished ...
7
votes
1answer
241 views

Is it normal for the concrete covering my interior perimeter drain to be damp?

I inherited an interior perimeter drain with a sump-pump as part of a basement waterproofing system when I purchased my new home two years ago. Since then I have noticed that along the seam of the ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the purpose of horizontal blocks on a bearing wall?

In my basement, the bearing wall has horizontal blocks between each stud, similar to what you see in this picture: . There is one place on the wall where one of the blocks was removed to place an ...