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How to Keep Your Basement Dry and Illuminated

Most basements are used mainly for storage. By clearing out all the junk down there and fixing it up nice, this great space can be used to dramatically increase the usable living space in your home at a very low cost. Remodeling an existing basement is considerably cheaper than adding onto your home by thousands of dollars. A basement can be used for anything. You can transform your downstairs dungeon into a lively entertainment area, living room, gym or anything else you have in mind.

Not every basement is a good candidate for being remodeled into a living space. You will need to consider how to control moisture, adding ventilation and light, and finding a way around hanging drain lines, ductwork and wiring. Most of the work can be done yourself, but some of it will need the attention of an experienced professional.

The most important factor in remodeling your basement is keeping it dry down there. Most water problems are caused by roof runoff.

Most of your flooding problems will be cured by repairing cracks in the foundation, making sure gutters are clear of clogs, and sloping the ground away from the house. If water still makes it into your basement, install or repair foundation drains.

This is a pretty big project that requires excavating around the perimeter of your house. One option is to install drains along interior basement walls. During this process, contractors will remove a strip of concrete next to the wall of your home and dig a trench around the outside of the floor. Drain lines are made to catch water and pump it out of the house or to gravity-fed drains if the grade allows it. This method is very effective at keeping water out of your basement, but it can be expensive. Another method to controlling moisture you could try is to apply masonry sealers to the interior walls of your basement.

Radon is a radioactive gas common in some parts of the country and can be very harmful if you have been exposed to it for a long time. You can measure the level of radon in your basement and decide if mitigation is necessary for your basement. Radon can be controlled by buried drain lines and vented to the outside, just like excess water.

The second most important aspect of remodeling a basement is making sure there is enough natural light down there. There is plenty of light for basements with a sloped lot that allows an easy walkout, but not all basements are like that. Most basements are illuminated only by small, ground-level windows. This makes basements seem smaller and uninviting. The first thing you can do is clear away any plants and shrubbery from the existing windows and make the most of what natural light you have available to you. Another great idea is to install egress window wells to your basement. You can also replace any solid doors in the basement with glass doors to help increase the amount of natural light coming in.

When there just is not enough natural light to please you, there are a lot of different lighting circuits that can be added. If you basement has plenty of headroom, track lighting is an attractive choice, even if you only use it as accent lighting. If your basement ceiling drops to seven feet or less, light fixtures can be bumped into and broken. While fluorescent fixtures can be recessed into a ceiling, they usually give any room that over lit office look. So builders usually turn to recessed incandescent lighting. They are unobtrusive and can be fitted with either spot or flood lamps. Installing a dimmer switch gives you even more flexible lighting options.

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