Is It a Good Idea to Open the Basement Windows in Summer?

If your house doesn’t get much shade on those sweltering hot days in Winston-Salem, NC, your first instinct would be to open the basement windows. Temperatures down there can soar up to 145-156°F, making life unbearable. Add to temperature the musty smells that pervade the atmosphere, and your basement will feel like a dungeon.

Opening the windows would seem to be the most sensible thing to do. After all, the outside breeze has a cooling effect on the indoors. An hour or so later, the cool breeze will have brought down the temperatures. Everyone will be happy and head back to the basement.

problematic basement window

Why You Shouldn’t Open the Basement Windows

Many people attempt to air out their musty, damp basements by opening their windows. At first it may look like the right thing to do, but the ugly truth is that airing your basement actually ramps up outdoor air! Here’s what will happen if you get the timing wrong.

Condensation

When you open basement windows in the summer, you’re letting in more warm and humid air. This air will cause condensation and worsen the conditions down there. Imagine sipping a cold beverage on a sweltering hot day. What would happen? The drinking cup or bottle will sweat (condensation). The same phenomenon will happen when you open the basement windows. Warm, moist air from the outside will get into your basement and come into contact with the cool surfaces. The result is water droplets. When this happens in cycles, your basement will develop mold and musty smells.

How to Cool the Basement

Instead of opening your basement windows to let in cooler air, keep them locked and get a fan to move the air around. It will make the surfaces cooler after some time.

Leaving windows closed during Winston-Salem’s summers takes some discipline. Some people will agonize over it. Why? They’ll feel that they’re leaving their houses to bake in stale air. That’s not true.

Basement ventilation

With your window all closed, the next thing would be to get portable ventilation. It’s an economical and trouble-free way of conditioning your basement. You can also extend your air conditioning system to your basement to condition it.

Dehumidify the air in your basement

When humidity is high, your basement may feel warmer than actually is. Dehumidifying this space removes moisture that might cause condensation. Indoor air will feel much cooler, and the atmosphere will change and become enjoyable.

Install fans

Using fans can also help you create cool and comfortable indoors. The breeze generated will move air

from one section to another. It will also dissipate heat from your body and evaporate sweat. We recommend that you use fans when the weather is mild or at night instead of your air conditioner. You will save up to 50% in cooling costs.

Heat pumps

These devices draw warm air from your home and release it outside while dehumidifying the space at the same time. The cool, moisture-free air is forced into your duct system, which circulates it around the home including the basement.

Timing is everything when opening and closing your basement windows. We recommend that you get a thermometer. Compare the real temperature to what you’re imagining it to be.

Shading the home

Blocking direct sunlight from reaching your home can also help keep basement temperatures low.

Shading works by blocking heat before it gets to your house. Create exterior shades by planting trees around the house. For the biggest impact, ensure the greenery stays on the south and west sides of your home. Insulating the attic and walls will also help cool the house and basement.

Note: Try not to use the dehumidifier when the air conditioning system is running. It will increase the cooling load of your air conditioner, forcing it to work extra hard.

Struggling to keep your basement dry and cool during summer? Get in touch with the basement waterproofing experts at Tar Heel Basement Systems. We’ll carry out a free basement inspection and give you a complimentary quote along with a solid recommendation to create a cool, dry, and livable basement.