Basement over 15 degrees cooler than main floor

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Old 01-14-15, 08:25 AM
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Basement over 15 degrees cooler than main floor

Hi,

I just got a brand new home built here in southern New Jersey. The house was finished in December 2013, so just over a year old. It's a branch new home by Ryan Homes. I have a partially finished basement that is running over 15 degrees cooler than my mine floor. This makes the basement extremely uncomfortable to be in. I know basements tend to be a few degrees cooler, but over 15 seems extreme. I am just trying to figure out what could cause such a huge difference in a brand new home that has energy efficient systems. The house itself appears well insulated as well. Only half of the basement is finished, but even the unfinished part is insulated...it just doesn't have the dry wall over top insulation.

Basically my basement is half finished. The finished part has two heating vents in the ceiling of the room. I keep them open completely. Right now I have the vents on the main floor open as well, but I have the vents on the second floor closed as per the home manual that suggested heat rising, and upstairs not needing vents open in the winter. I keep my house at 70 degrees right now on the main floor. After feeling for a while how cold the basement gets, and it being extremely uncomfortable, I finally decided to use something to test the temperature. On the main floor I am getting around 70, which is what I would expect based on my heating setting. However on the basement it shows at least 15 degrees cooler at all times (This morning it showed 51 degrees).

This is a brand new home, and therefore the heating is supposed to be energy efficient, and the house, has very good insulation throughout, and windows are insulated well. So with such a new, energy efficient house, I would not expect such a drastic difference in the basement to main floor. My electricity is much lower here than my previous home, so it always appeared that the energy efficiency was doing a good job. But what could possibly be causing my basement to be so much colder than rest of house? The rest of house gets heated easily, and the heater doesn't even need to come on that much, cause the good insulation allows the temperature to stay around 70 pretty decently.

I am at a loss as for what could be causing such a drastic temperature in the basement. Can someone please help point me in possible directions? I am not very knowledgeable at all about this stuff. And I am sorry if I don't know the most, but any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 08:33 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

Only two vents in the basement? How many on the other floors (including the ones you currently have closed)? How many returns in the basement and on the other floors?
 
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Old 01-14-15, 08:39 AM
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I have the vents on the second floor closed as per the home manual that suggested heat rising, and upstairs not needing vents open in the winter.
That is not entirely correct. You can reduce the flow to second floor due to heat rising but some heat is still needed.

What's the temperature on the second floor ?
 
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Old 01-14-15, 08:57 AM
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I probably should have checked that and put that in my first post, haha.

I just went around the house to double check. Here are the three floors that I see.

In basement there are 3 heater vents (2 in the finished part, and one in the unfinished), and one return. The 2 in the finished part are open, and the one in the unfinished part was closed. Also there are two more vented areas on the wall that seperates the finished and unfinished areas. These are connected to nothing, and I am guessing it's just for airflow because of the HVAC and water heater and such in the unfinished part of basement.

On the main floor there are 7 heater vents and one return. Six of these heater vents are open, and one is closed.

On the second floor there are 9 heater vents and one return. Of these 9, 7 are closed, and only the 2 vents in the 2 upstairs bathrooms(don't like cold bathrooms) are open.

That seems to be the basic layout.

I should say, that I am getting the temperature reading off a space heater. So not sure they are the most accurate in the world at reading temperature...but when I plugged it in on the main floor, it correctly read the temperature as 70. So I believe it to be pretty accurate.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 09:00 AM
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The temperature on the second floor registers a few degrees colder than the main floor depending on what room it is in. But it still feels mostly comfortable. My original statement was a bit false though. We have two vents open on the second floor...one in each bathroom. I forgot about that in my original post.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 10:27 AM
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It sounds like you need more airflow into the basement. Are the returns on all three floors the same size?

Here's my house:
Basement: Five vents, two returns (the gas furnace, water heater and dryer are on this level)
Middle floor: Four vents, one return (kitchen and dining room are the only actual rooms on this floor so just a return in the dining room)
Top floor: Five vents, three returns.

I never block a return but in the winter I close three of the upstairs vents. In the summer I close three of the basement vents.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 10:33 AM
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Yes the returns appear to be the same size. I would expect a brand new built house, that is energy efficient, to have the proper airflow setup by the builder. Is it abnormal for this not to be the case? Or do you guys hear of people with new homes ever having similar issues?

As for if I would need to have better airflow, I am guessing that is something I would need to bring in an HVAC expert in on, and not something I could do myself?
 
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Old 01-14-15, 10:35 AM
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I think you need more vents in your basement.

Yes, this kind of imbalance is common even in new homes.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 11:00 AM
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Thank you. Is this something I can read up online and somehow do myself? Or would I need it done by a professional? Also is it usually possible to add more vents without needing a more power HVAC system? I think I know the answer, but am checking.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 11:02 AM
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I added a vent in my home but it's pretty much going to be based on what you have and whether there's obvious places to add one or two.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 11:17 AM
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Okay. Well thanks for your input today Mitch. I can see the one vent I don't use on the main floor. For one vent, maybe I can like turn it to flow the other way into the basement since I don't need a vent on main floor there. That takes one vent, will have to look into maybe adding another some other way.
 
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Old 01-14-15, 11:58 AM
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Do you have enough cold air returns in the basement?

I have a 2 story townhouse with a large open stairway and in the winter, I run my furnace fan 24/7 for comfort and uniformity. The lower level/basement has the vents almost wide open. My north wall is fully exposed. A maximum of 2F difference between the upper and lower levels usually and the lower level is about 1/3 buried. Fortunately, I do have 3 - 32" wide returns close to concrete floor suck up the cold air.

In the cooling system, I reverse everything with supply vents and run the fan on "auto" to get maximum dehumidifying.

Dick
 
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Old 01-14-15, 06:27 PM
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Have you air-sealed & insulated the rim joists? There must be a huge draft down there to get the temp so low.
 
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Old 01-15-15, 05:13 AM
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Basement

Is the basement closed off from the first floor?
 
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