Finishing your basement is an exciting project. It opens up much more square footage in your home and allows you to perhaps add a room you’ve always wanted but haven’t had the space for. Before you start building that rec room, craft room or home gym, however, you need to do your homework and check to be sure your basement space is a healthy space for you and your family.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/homes/hip-basement.html#Moisture%20Control%20Issues) highlights some points for all homeowners to be cognizant of as they are remodeling lower levels.
Remember to test your home for radon. This gas cannot be detected by sight or smell, so it is important to test your home to find out what your average radon level is. Home tests are available, or you can call in a professional to test the levels for you. If you do have high levels, be assured that this is a problem that can be fixed.
Keep in mind that since you will be changing the basement, you will be changing how the air flows in your home. You want to be sure that any combustion appliances you have such as your furnace, water heater, fireplace, dryer or space heater are operating correctly and not backdrafting. You may want a professional to check these appliances after you have completed the work on the basement. Follow general combustion safety rules as you are building.
Before you begin building, it is important to have a basement waterproofing professional check if you are worried about moisture issues. Persistent moisture problems can lead to mold and mildew problems, which are extremely unhealthy. If there is a moisture problem, the fix may be as simple as making sure your downspout is directed away from your home or regrading your yard so that it slopes away from your home. Making sure you have a waterproof basement is important before you being remodeling.
Talk to an expert on what type of flooring you should use in your basement. It should be resistant to water and should also prevent water which does get on the floor from penetrating to the padding. If it does penetrate the pad, it becomes difficult to dry and can lead to mold problems.
While you are remodeling the basement, check the quality of the windows. If they are old windows (before 1978) which have been painted, you should probably change them because of the possibility of lead in the paint. Simply opening and closing the windows can cause lead to flake off—especially hazardous to children.
Being proactive about these guidelines as you are refinishing your basement will help to ensure that it is a healthy space for your family to enjoy.