finished basements

Finished Basement With Musty Odour Toronto

Even a finished basement can contain high pollution levels and since these pollutants rise due to their buoyancy they can often invade the living space on the upper floors. Basements often have a bit of a musty smell to them and this is because certain types of wallboard and carpeting absorb moisture through the home’s foundation via a process known as capillary action.

This results in excess humidity and moisture which can be absorbed by the insulation. In some instances, excess moisture can lead to visible or invisible mold in the basement.

If a basement suffers water damage it can result in mold which releases pollutants into the air and can keep growing even after the room has dried. This, in turn, will result in a musty smell, especially if the basement has poor ventilation. Unfinished basements also become musty since they usually contain a certain amount of dirt, dust, and debris which can encourage the growth of mold and bacteria. To make matters worse, invisible particulate matter or debris in the air can damage your lungs and enter your bloodstream and are certainly unhealthy.

Other pollutant causes of a musty basement could include things such as fiberglass insulation, dank crawl spaces, Radon gas, and volatile organic compounds such as fertilizer bags and paint cans. If you notice a musty odour from the basement it’s recommended you have the air tested by a professional or specialist. Professionals can identify the cause of the moisture and smell and come up with a solution to eliminate it, resulting in a healthier and fresher smelling basement.

The aim is to eliminate the moisture from the basement and increase its airflow. If your basement is unfinished with a dirt floor the floor should be covered with a plastic sheet and wire mesh before covering it with a thin layer of concrete. If the basement has a concrete floor you may need a waterproofing solution if water or moisture is seeping into it. If the basement is filled with mold you may need to have it removed by a professional mold removal company.

If mold is left to grow it could eat through basement insulation, wood framing and other structures and materials. A good ventilation system is also needed as it removes the musty air and replaces it with fresh air. You may need to install an exhaust fan along with a dehumidifier/air purifier and open any windows to increase airflow. If you hire a professional to find and eliminate the source of your musty basement there are a few steps you can take to keep the area as fresh as possible once the job has been completed.

Make sure your downspouts and gutters aren’t clogged as water that pools around your home can start to smell unpleasant. You might also want to send the water further away from your home by installing extensions on the downspouts. This will help keep water from seeping into your basement from the ground near the house. You can also keep the basement air fresh by cleaning it out and throwing away all unneeded items which could absorb moisture, mold and mildew. If the basement is unfinished you can then clean the surfaces with soap and water as well as bleach, white vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide.

Some unpleasant odours can be absorbed by items such as baking soda, white vinegar, zeolite, charcoal bricks, and cat litter. If you place one or a combination of these items in the basement the air should stay fresher. Just be sure to replace them every two or three months. Another option is to place an ionizer downstairs. These devices are designed to remove bad odours by releasing ions in the air.  If you plan on hiring a contractor to finish your basement, then you must ensure the damp issues are cleared up before installing your drywall and flooring.

But in the long run, it’s going to be difficult to rid your basement of a musty odour if you don’t find the source of it and have it rectified. If you’re having a hard time locating the reason for your moist or wet basement please don’t hesitate to contact us at Nusite Waterproofing. Our team of professional basement waterproofers will be able to find the cause of the problem and also provide you with the best solution for it.

 

 

As a basement waterproofing and mold removal company here in Toronto, we’re often called to basement leaks where we find mold infestation behind the sheet rock walls, embedded in the insulation behind it.

So how do you properly insulate a basement?

That’s a question that begs another question. The second one is “what are you going to use your basement for?” If it’s general storage ( I’m assuming it’s already waterproofed) you may be able to get away with wall-bag insulation (generally not recommended) that reaches at least two feet below ground level.

One thing you need to make sure of is that your basement is waterproofed and water is not going to seep through your foundations and ruin your finished walls once they are installed.  If you currently have water or damp issues in your basement, these need to be addressed before finishing your basement.

In certain cases, like having no access to the exterior of the foundation to repair the water leaks, an interior weeping tile system can be installed to remove water as it enters your basement, keeping your finished walls and basement dry.

However, if you’re planning a basement that’ll be used as living space, then you’re going to need to fully insulate the walls and floor. If it this was previously done inadequately, you might have to throw everything away and start afresh. In the end, it’s your choice how far to go.

In this regard, it’s relevant to mention a general tendency to tighten building regulations. We find it remarkable that some homeowners go to great expense when it comes to finishing the upstairs living spaces, yet skimp on basement basics, especially when a moldy basement can lead to extensive repairs and the loss of quality living space in the home.

Essential Principles

  • You need insulation that works all year round to keep your basement warm in winter, and humidity-free during summer months.

 

  • Ground temperature drops as you go deeper underground. When different wall-temperatures mingle, you get condensation that encourages mold.

 

  • Insulated panels between battens covered by a vapour barrier work great above ground where the outside temperature is consistent.

 

  • However in this instance they don’t have to counter a variety of different temperatures that combine to cause humidity and mold below ground.

The Correct Way to Insulate

We believe in doing things the correct way, and right from the beginning. You should install rigid foam insulation that comes ship-lapped, so there are no butt-joints that admit air that mingles with the inside temperature. The correct thickness is one inch on the floor, and two inches on the walls.

It’s equally important to glue the panels directly to walls and floors with the correct foam-rated adhesive, so they are not damaged during installation. Joints must be taped over, and the slightest gaps at edges filled with spray foam.

Once your basement is comprehensively insulated, you can go ahead and install studs for your decorative paneling  If you believe in belts-and-braces, you could add mold-resistant drywall.

How This Works

Rigid foam creates a thermal break that’s impenetrable. You’ll find the same material in those handy coolers that keep your cans chilled without dripping condensation. Toilet tanks lined with rigid foam follow the same principles.

When you apply this approach to your basement insulation, you create a similar barrier. In winter the room stays warm. In summer there’s no humidity, or mold caused by the different temperature outside.

The extra price you pay up-front for this should provide a healthier environment for many years to come, and allow you to enjoy the extra living space that a dry and mold free basement provides.

Have questions about mold or moisture problems in your home?  Nusite Waterproofing has been waterproofing and renovating basements for over 30 years in Toronto.  We offer free, in-home estimates and inspections.  Feel free to contact us here, we’re happy to answer any questions you have.

Radon in Toronto Home Graphic

Many Toronto area homeowners have heard of radon, but aren’t exactly sure what it is and how serious of a health problem it may pose. Radon is a natural radioactive gas which can be found in the ground when radium and uranium  decays. On average, there may be up to 50 pounds of uranium in the ground in an acre of land and it decays into radium, which in turn naturally decays into radon. Radon by itself doesn’t pose any health hazards since it’s an inert gas. However, the gas can decay into lead and polonium articles which are both radioactive and chemically active. The radioactive particles can then be breathed into your body and lodge in your trachea, bronchi, and lungs. Human cells can be disrupted and mutated by the radiation and this can eventually cause lung cancer. In fact, it’s estimated that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in America.

Radon Systems Toronto

Radon is odourless and invisible can find its way into a home by creeping through small spaces in the rock and soil which the house sits on. It can also seep into a building through floor drains, dirt floors and sump pits as well as any cracks in the basement floor, foundation, and foundation walls. A level of 70,000 atoms in each litre of air can be a cause for concern as it represents approximately two million atoms of radon in a cubic foot of air. Even though this is a low concentration of atoms in the air radon is dangerous because it’s radioactive. Humans breathe approximately 20 litres of air into their lungs per minute which results in about 10,000 atoms of radioactive radon each minute. This exposure to the gas can then lead to lung cancer.

CDC Stata Radon Deaths

Testing for Radon
The best way to find out if there’s radon present in your home is to have a professional contractor conduct a test. Short-term tests take between two and seven days with a charcoal accumulator system while long-term tests can take between three and 12 months and are carried out with an electrets or by alpha track. First time testing is usually the short-term option. It’s important that you have a qualified technician conduct the test so the proper mitigation system can be installed if the radon level is too high.

If there’s too much radon in your home there are several ways to alleviate the problem. One of the most common is known as a sub-slab depressurization system which includes the installation of fans and pipes. This system is designed to prevent the radon gas from seeping into the building below the foundation and concrete floor. Other methods can be used to rid the home of radon and these will typically depend on the design of the building. Also, radon can creep into homes of any age and also those which don’t have a basement.

Dangerous levels of radon in a home mean it’s time to take action. Having a home tested is easy and relatively inexpensive. While you may be able to find do-it-yourself test kits you may feel more confident by hiring a professional contractor to carry out the test with specialized equipment. A qualified technician will advise you on the most effective way of ridding your home from its specific level of radon. You may also want to have a professional contractor test for radon before buying a home to make sure level is acceptable. In addition, some new homes are being built with radon-resistant features.

To find out more about radon testing and how to properly eliminate the potentially dangerous gas please feel free to contact us at Nusite Waterproofing at your convenience. We’ll be able to fully test your home for radon levels and then install the correct system for keeping it at bay and keeping your home as healthy as possible.

Finished Basement in Toronto

Most homeowners don’t make very good use of their basement.  If it’s an unfinished basement, it’s probably a laundry room and a very big storage space.  As a waterproofing company here in Toronto, the two biggest reasons people do not finish their basements are finances and chronic water leaks in their basement.

It’s hard to have a bright and airy basement when it feels and smells like you’re in a dungeon.  Chronic dampness and mold will do that.  If you have the budget, finishing your basement, or even creating a walkout basement can do wonders for ventilation and lighting.  Often times, finances don’t allow for a fully finished basement, though stopping the water leaks is probably a pre-requisite if you want to use the space, finished or unfinished.

Even in you don’t finish your basement, there are lots of creative ways you can make use of the space, and you won’t have to spend a fortune to do it.  Some ideas are:

 

Children’s Play Space

Create a safe and open space for you children to play.  It gets them out of the main living areas, reduces the traffic and cleanup for you, and creates a nice out of the way space for your little ones to play.  If they’re little, it can be a great downstairs play area while you take care of the laundry!

Kids Basement Playroom Toronto

Home Office

Need some peace and quiet so you can get some work done?  Find a cozy corner of the basement to concentrate on your work.  Often times, it may be simply running a cable line or power cord from the first floor so you can have your internet and power for you electronics and lighting.

Basement Home Office Toronto

Fitness Room

With some floor mats, a heavy bag, and some music, you can turn your dark basement into your own training center.  Exercise equipment can be loud and heavy, making it disruptive if there is living space below so the basement is a perfect place.

Basement Family Room

Family Room

A couple of couches, an area rug and a TV….and you have a great place to host family night!

Basement Family Room


Step 1: Make Sure It’s Waterproof

As you can see, there are lots of great ideas for turning that unused space into something you can enjoy.  Before you start, here are some ideas to keep in mind.

While a little moisture in an unfinished basement may seem unimportant, it matters a great deal when you’re investing money to build it out. Consider this. Damp is going to stain your new finishes and eventually ruin the job. You’re also going to have to rip them out to make repairs.

Moisture and lack of ventilation will ruin your basement fun if left untreated.  If you do have a water leak in your basement, find the source and call in a waterproofing company to fix it before you start.  Adding ventilation in the form of fans and possibly a dehumidifier will also help keep the air dry and circulating.

Step 2: Have a Proper Plan

Do you have electrical outlets?  Will you need them?  Is the space away from your utilities, especially if it’s a children’s play area.  Making sure the area is safe and that you have the proper resources before selecting the section of the basement for your new space.  Remove any clutter in the area and move it to a remote part of the basement.

Step 3: Lighting

One of the things that make an unfinished basement somewhat depressing is that lack of lighting.  If it’s going to be a space where you’re going o be spending any sort of time in, be sure to brighten the place up.  Ikea can give you some great, low-cost ideas for track lighting as well as floor and table lamps.

Step 5: Apply Finishes

Your choice of colors can make a big impact on the look and feel of your space.  There are several options for painting bare concrete walls and floors that can turn your basement into a bright and happy atmosphere without spending alot of money.  Also consider area rugs and child/gym mat flooring options that are also inexpensive.

Step 6: Install the Furniture and Fittings

Once the lighting, walls and flooring are in place, it’s time to move your furnishings in.  If you’ll be using furniture, consider using it in a way that sections off that part of your basement to give it it’s own unique space.

It’s easy to get more use out of your basement creatively. As long as your basement is dry, it’s not expensive to turn it into a space you can enjoy.    If you’re looking for ideas, check out there Pinterest images for some inspiration!

Nusite Group is a Toronto based basement waterproofing and foundation specialty company, we help get your basement ready so it can be finished for years of family enjoyment.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can help create get your damp, cramped basement into a fully functional living space.

 

Radiant Floor Heating in Toronto Basement

If you’re thinking about renovating your basement and are thinking about adding radiant heating to your flooring, then read on.  Not only is radiant heat possible for your basement floor, it can turn a cold, damp basement into the main gathering place for your home.

We’ve been renovating basements in Toronto and the surrounding GTA for over 30 years.  We’ve also installed several radiant heating floor systems as part of converting damp basements into full height, finished basements.

In-floor radiant basement heating is based on the principle that the amount of energy required to maintain the existing temperature is low, when compared to that required to raise it. In a nutshell, the system comprises two main components. The first part is a network of flexible tubing around which the concrete slab is poured. The second is a hydronic pump that forces heated liquid through this piping to create a warming effect.

 

When to Install Basement Radiant Heating

A hydronic basement heater is an efficient way to keep a basement comfortably warm, especially as heat eventually transfers to the entire structure if it is left ticking over. However, it is not recommended for drying out a damp basement despite what some salespeople may say. This is because it does not prevent moisture entering the structure, and gradually degrading it.

Manifestly, the preferred solution is to cast the radiant piping into the slab at the time of original construction. Should you decide to retrofit the system, there are two possibilities, though not as ideal as installing it with a new floor:

  • Chop up the floor slab, compact the rubble, cover it with a layer of sand and cast a fresh reinforced concrete floor with integral, radiant system.

 

  • Add an above-floor grid covered over by a false floor. However, this option is not integral with the structure and consequently less energy-effective.

Convenient Energy Sources

Almost any energy source can be used to heat the liquid and power the pump that circulates it. Common solutions include coal, electricity, a heat pump, natural gas, oil, propane, solar energy, and wood. Factors influencing the final choice incorporate local building codes, general safety considerations, architectural constraints, the level of ambient temperature desired, and, of course, the homeowner’s budget.

 

Why You Should Consider Radiant Heating in Your Basement

Assuming that you have in mind to keep your basement warm – as opposed to drying it out which is counterproductive for reasons mentioned – then in-floor radiant heating has a number of significant advantages as follows:

  • It is economic to install and operate, especially when fitted during the construction phase.

 

  • It is gentle to the environment as it produces less greenhouse gases and can be fired by renewable energy.

 

  • It is unusually quiet as does not rely on electric fans, rattling ductwork and hammering pipes.

 

  • It is exceptionally clean and healthy as it is totally concealed and releases no pollutants to the air.

 

  • Being ideally integrated with the floor slab, it does not rob your basement of precious headroom.

In Conclusion, is Radiant Heating a Good Idea?

Anything that adds value to your home in a cost-effective manner is an investment worth considering. This is especially true if it converts a chilly basement into useful living space. If you plan on creating a finished basement that will be a hub for the family, then consider adding radiant heating during your renovations.

Have questions about basement renovations or radiant heating for your basement?  Nusite Group has been repairing and renovating basements in Toronto for over 30 years.  We offer a free onsite evaluation for your radiant heating project and will provide you a list of recommendations as part of our free estimate.  You can contact us here.