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How to Improve Air Quality in Basement

By July 6, 2021Basement

Having a basement in the home is so nice. Whether it is a finished or unfinished basement, it adds more space to the home, storage, and entertaining. However, sometimes the basement can have poor air quality. Are you wondering how to improve air quality in the basement? There are several ways. Use an air purifier, dry the moisture out, keep windows closed, seal cracks and gaps, remove VOC’s, test for radon, and monitor carbon monoxide.

Let’s take a look at why it is important to improve air quality, how to improve air quality, maintenance to keep air quality clean, and when to contact a professional.

Why It is Important to Improve Air Quality in Basement

Good air quality is important. We need to make sure that we are breathing clean air each day and not air that is full of allergens and chemicals. Sometimes it is hard to know though but there are steps we can take to ensure it is as clean as possible.

Here is a great video to help understand why it is important to have good air quality in the basement.

How to Improve Air Quality in Basement

Improving air quality in the basement can be done and in very simple ways. Let’s take a look at those ways.

Air Purifier Will Improve Air Quality in Basement

An air purifier is a great way to improve air quality in the basement as it circulates the air through a set of filters. Then, it takes out the contaminants that are floating around in the room. The air purifier needs to include a True HEPA filter, Activated Carbon Filter, and Ultraviolet light in order to get the cleanest air possible.

You will want to find one that is the proper size for the room you are using it in. One that is too small won’t work well so having the correct size is important. Many of the air purifiers are labeled with the size in square feet of the room they are good to use it in. Thus, knowing the size of the room is important before ordering or buying one. In addition to this improving the air quality, it also helps for ventilation issues.

Cost: About $100-$300 or more depending on size of the room.

window leak

Get the Moisture Out

Getting the moisture out of the basement is important. Moisture often causes the smell and dampness you find in a basement with poor air quality. When we have moisture, there is an increase in mildew and mold in the basement. You will need to clean the mold and mildew with protective gear after you find the source.

Do you know where the moisture is coming from? This is important to find out. Sometimes it can be from a leak in a window when it rains or can be the floor drain is backing up in the basement. The moisture can be coming from numerous places such as behind the drywall, ceiling covers, or carpeting. Don’t fret, a home inspector can use thermal image devices to find the water leak.

In an unfinished basement, look up at the ceiling as you may see mold on the joists or trusses. This can happen in the building process when the wood is left out in the rain and moisture. Sadly, it is often left at job sites on the ground.

The fungi are attracted to wood because of the cellulose in it and this allows the fungi to feed and spread. Then, the mold will grow if the temperature is between 50-90 degrees and has 30% moisture in the wood. Unfortunately, rot can also happen and structural issues. You will want to contact a professional to help take care of the issue.

Dehumidifier helps with air quality.

Symptoms from the Mold

Some of the yucky air you are breathing in can be harmful, especially if it is mold. The mold can cause symptoms such as nasal congestion, allergic reaction, sneezing, coughing, and eye irritation. Add a dehumidifier to the basement to get the humidity at 30-50% and this will help.

Keep Windows Closed to Improve Air Quality in Basement

This might sound like a great way to ventilate the basement or to get fresh air in. In the cooler fall months and spring, this would be okay if the pollen and allergens are low. However, if it is summer or the pollens and allergens are high, then this is not a good idea. What it will do is bring in the polluted air and also higher humidity and you don’t want that.

Seal Cracks and Gaps

Check the basement for any cracks or gaps and seal those right away. You don’t want air escaping the house or air coming into the home. This will contribute also to the high humidity and moisture and this is what you are trying to avoid.

Air quality monitor helps with air quality.

Remove VOC Chemicals to Improve Air Quality in Basement

Often when we paint the home, we will keep the leftover paint in the basement. However, this is not a good idea as the fumes are powerful and pollute the air. Keeping the paint and other volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) such as solvents out of the home and in the garage will clean up the air. Buying an air quality monitor is a good idea so you can keep an eye on the air quality if you are concerned.

Cost: $30-$200

Thinking about painting your basement? Choose a zero or low VOC paint such as this one . If not, you may be exposing your family to toxic gases.

Radon testing helps with air quality.

Testing for Radon

Radon enters a home through the cracks in the foundation, building joints, well water, or exposed soil such as a basement or crawl space. It can be found in homes with or without a basement. Some people think that opening the windows will get the radon out, but unfortunately, it does not.

Here is a great map that shows what the radon levels are in the U.S. Every home should be tested no matter where it is as all radon has to do is enter the home where the building attaches to the soil.

Carbon Monoxide detector helps with air quality

Monitor Carbon Monoxide

You will want to monitor the carbon monoxide if you have a furnace. One way to do this is by looking at the furnace. If you see a yellow or flickering flame, moisture around the windows or walls, or rust on the vent pipe you may have a carbon monoxide issue.

If you do, get the family out of the home right away and call your HVAC company and gas company. Another way to monitor it is to get a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is a poison that will seriously harm or cause death.

Maintenance To Keep the Air Quality Clean

Change the air filter in HVAC– changing this out every 90 days can help keep the air clean. If your home has smokers or pets, you may need to change it more often. This is part of a great plan for spring HVAC maintenance.

Keep firewood outside – don’t store firewood in the basement. Keep it outside away from the home. Firewood creates moisture and will add to the moisture in the home and grow mold or mildew.

Install exhaust fan – If you decide to finish the basement, install an exhaust fan to pull out the moisture.

When to Call a Professional

Call a professional if you are not sure what is causing a musty or dirty smell in your basement. Also, if you are thinking about finishing your basement and need a quote, a professional is a good one to contact. Lastly, there can be a lot of hidden dangers in homes with an unfinished basement or furnace so keep an eye on maintenance and signs of trouble. Reach out to a professional if you need assistance.


A basement is great to have but it does need to be clean and have good air quality. Keep an eye on any signs that there may be a problem and look into fixing the issue. Having an air quality monitor is a great idea as well as doing your part to keep mold and mildew out of the home. Boggs Inspection Services can complete indoor air quality testing on your home.

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