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I live in house built in 1968. My basement is partially finished. There is drop in ceiling above and there is no insulation in the ceiling. The floor is covered with some old vinyl tiles which feels cold to step on. The furnace is in the corner behind the door where there is bare concrete. There are heating vents in the drop in ceiling.

My question is how do I warm up my basement. There is paneling on the walls and there is insulation behind it.

  1. Should I move my heating vents near the floor?
  2. Will putting carpet tiles help with cold floor?
  3. What else can I do to make that space warm?
  • Can you provide pictures? Really need to see what the insulation looks like, need pictures of the floor, and could you provide geographical info? – DMoore Apr 7 at 19:21
  • It’s difficult to take picture of insulation being the drop in ceiling in the way. However I can fiberglass insulation poping out to the ceiling and rim joists being insulated with fiberglass. By the way I live in Chicago. And floor is covered is old vinyl tiles over concrete floor. – Mayur Apr 7 at 22:14
  • Are there return vents in the basement? I'm in a very cold climate and every room but the bathroom should have a return. It's not important that the heat supply vents are low. Most here are in the ceiling. It's a matter of balancing airflow up and down – isherwood May 8 at 12:54
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One of the biggest things to the feel of a room is the floor temp--you mentioned that yours feels cold. A thermal padding and carpet will be the biggest bang for the buck in the feel or that is what I have found reducing the heat transfer from the floor that has no insulation to a minimum of carpet and a thermal pad has made my basements warm enough that the kids played on the floor. Prior to that they did not like the basement because it was cold even with a 72 deg air temp.

Heat vents being low sure that can help a little but the ducting probably services the main floor so moving them to the floor ends up costing more because you end up running new ducts from the trunk lines. The other thing I found that helped was IR heaters but they only heat a focused area but they work well for a seating area and a zone the kids usually play on the floor in.

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Here are some thoughts and recommendations. It is very hard to heat a finished basement to the same temp as the floor above since heated air naturally rises and cold air falls. So, you could add a separate heating system for the basement only or count the number of heat registers in the main living area.

If the basement area is about the same dimensions then you will probably need to have approximately the same number of heat vents in the basement to heat that same area. You will also have to add a few cold air returns mounted near the floor. This is what I did when I finished my basement although I could only put in 7 heat outlets and 4 returns. I used a dropped ceiling with 2X2 ceiling tile and installed the heat runs in the tiles and used 6" flex duct to connect the rigid pipe to the register boots.

To finish my basement I also studded the walls, insulated, and installed dry wall and a cheaper carpet with a thick padding. My basement is now just a couple degrees below the upstairs temps. Oh yes, close the vents in the summer when the A/C is on or it will get too cold. I do have a de-humidifier that I occasionally run in the summer to help control the humidity. You could also read my answer to @Technupe post on April 4 to get more information on what I did.

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  • References to other questions or answers should be linked. – isherwood May 8 at 12:52
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Heated air rises and the higher in elevation in a room the warmer the air, and the warmth will move up through the building as well, which is why upper apartments are usually hot and ground floor ones colder.

Soil and concrete are resistant to change in temperatures. The ground tends to maintain a given temperature over time, this is why the ground only freezes to a particular depth in the winter.

Given that, it will be nearly impossible to warm the room enough to warm the floor enough to be comfortable, and if you did, it would take a lot of energy and therefore money, because much of that heat would rise away as well.

I have an old house with an unheated basement and no insulation in the main level floor. What I do to deal with the situation is to use a small air circulating fan to mix the air in the room and move the cold air up and the warm air down and this makes the room all one temperature without wasting heat. Then I wear wool socks to keep my feet warm.

If you very much want to have the floor warm, or at least have it not feel as cold, I suggest adding a layer of insulation on the floor. It would require a finished surface on top such as carpet, hardwood flooring, or tile.

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picture: alexnld.com

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I haven't used these myself, but there are heated area rugs as well as heating pads that go under separate area rugs. Here is one idea; there are lots of others out there.

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