We have a problem with our basement. Our basement is a finished basement with glass block windows, so it's quite sealed. The tiny vents in the windows face our driveway and our neighbor's driveway. They're quite dusty, so we leave the vents closed. With only the steps to the basement and the exhaust fan in the bathroom down there for circulation, there is no real ventilation. We have hot water heat, so there is no furnace filtration. We can't use our basement because of all the dust. We tried an air filter, but it barely worked. Anybody have any ideas on what we can do about our basement air circulation problem?
First off, when was the basement finished? If it was in the past five years or so, did you get a permit? If you didn't, then you have a bigger problem. You need to have an egress window, so you can escape the basement in case of fire. There is a certain size window that you need to have so check with your township. If the basement was finished over 10 years or better, you may be grandfathered and not need that bigger window for egress. I would suggest that you remove the glass block and at least put in a couple of windows that will fit in the opening, so you can get air circulating. Also, if you have a gas boiler that is in your basement that is heating your water, you want to have circulation for that also in case something was to happen.
Try a box fan. You can find a decent one for about $15. Get a furnace air filter of the same size. Just get the cheap 99-cent blue filter. Attach to the back (intake) side of the fan. Scotch tape will work, but a bungee cord might be easier. Run the fan on low speed. To improve dust collection, spray the filter with Endust(r) and let that dry before attaching the filter to the fan. Yes, a HEPA filter would be better but we are trying to stretch a dollar here.
You might try planting some sort of short shrubs or plants in front of the window outside the house to act as a dust trap. You could also buy inexpensive exhaust fans to place in a few of the vents. That would draw fresh air from upstairs. Another suggestion would be to set up a used furnace fan into a grate to the basement from inside the house. They are quite powerful and would create some air-circulation.
The reader doesn't mention the age of the house or whether they know the history behind the finished basement. Was it finished prior to the owners buying it? Or did they finish it themselves?
It's possible that even though the basement is finished, dust is falling from the ceiling because of activity going on upstairs. In addition, dust is also composed of human skin cells and pet dander. It could also be lint from clothing, furniture, and carpet, especially the new soft fuzzy fabrics. I would also be curious to know the type of wall covering and ceiling they have (sheetrock, paneling or ceiling tiles). The quality of the materials used could be in question if the material is deteriorating.
It's hard to offer a fix without knowing the exact cause. The owners should look into the history of the basement upgrades to find some answers.
If there is no ventilation in the basement and it is sealed well, there should not be a lot of dust or damp. My recommendation is to give the basement a good cleaning with lots of soap and water (with vinegar or bleach water - not both). Wear a mask. Be sure to get the ceiling of the basement, as well as walls and floors. Next, use an insulation of foam or regular insulation and seal the ceiling, window block and the edge between the first floor and the basement. This should stop the manufacture of dust, since it's probably from the first floor.
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