Basement Systems Check

Find out if your heating and cooling systems, plumbing, wiring and utilities are up to date and ready to serve your new basement space.

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You'll want to hide unattractive mechanical systems from view in your finished living area, and add other systems like electrical wiring and perhaps plumbing to serve that space.

If you're going to segregate your furnace and other mechanical systems in a smaller, often unfinished area of your basement adhere to any building codes that require a fire-rated door. Seal this area from fumes and consider soundproofing if it's next to a home entertainment area.

You may have to bring in outside air through an air vent, especially for some high-efficiency furnaces and boilers. Consult with an HVAC professional to see if you need a fresh air intake. Water filtration and softener systems can be built into closets.

Upgrade for Efficiency and Function

This is the time to consider any upgrades to mechanical systems like furnaces, boilers, water tanks and water filtration/softener systems. If you have a furnace or boiler that doesn't run well or emits fumes, upgrade to a cleaner, more efficient model.

If a hot water heater is approaching 10 years old, think about replacing it. Many hot water tanks leak after just seven years, and you wouldn't want that catastrophe soon after building your new basement space.

Wiring and Plumbing

Once the walls are framed but not finished, it's time for wiring and plumbing. Have an electrician run powerline to all power outlets and lighting locations, unless the ceiling will be finished later.

If you're adding a home entertainment space, office or anything requiring technology, Scott Varn of Harmony Interiors, advises running conduit pipe that can carry the necessary wiring to all your equipment. The pipe should be 1-to-3-inch PVC, with separate pipes for power and speaker wires and Ethernet cabling.

Don't rely on wireless signals in a basement, Varn says. Instead, run Category 5, 5e or 6 Ethernet cable to all equipment locations, as soon these high-speed data lines will also allow you to operate and power many electronics.

If you're planning a home entertainment space or office, get your electronic gear on a dedicated 20-amp circuit—and one that's not shared with all the lights and microwave oven.

Want to add a basement bathroom or wet bar with a sink? Think carefully about this, as the toilets and sinks in basements often must be located lower than the pipes carrying the water and waste from your home, thereby requiring pumps.


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