The question many people were asking recently is whether you needed to have a cold air return in a basement. Before we answer this question it is important to understand why you need cold air returns in the first place and whether the basement is finished or not. A cold air return is only used with forced air systems where there is a furnace located within the home. Hot air is forced throughout a duct system by a fan located on the furnace through ducts to every part of the home. The furnace draws air from the cold air return ducts which channel air through ducts that also connect to every room in the house. This arrangement allows for a continuous feed of air throughout the home.
Cold Air Return in Basement – Unfinished
If your basement is unfinished, there is really no need to be concerned about a cold air return vent. There is usually enough leakage in the system that some air is still drawn from the basement into the system and replaced by heated air from a hot air duct. In fact many people prefer this approach since the basement is unfinished and they really do not want to heat it anyway. It is however important to make sure that the temperature is above freezing levels to avoid water pipes located in the basement freezing and causing water leaks.
Cold Air Return in Basement – Finished Basement
Once a basement is finished, there is a need to make sure that it is warm enough to be enjoyed and that means air must be allowed to flow in as well as out of the room. Air flows in through the hot air duct and out through the cold air duct. The cold air duct should be located at floor level where the cold air settles and it should be open to allow air to enter and return to the furnace to be heated.
In some cases if there is poor air circulation, consumers will install an auxiliary heater such as electric heat or fireplace to heat the basement rooms. basements are difficult to keep warm since hot air rises and cold air falls making basement rooms very cold. A small gas fireplace with a fan will heat up a basement room in no time at all. There is no need to worry about chimneys now with the new high efficiency fireplaces. All you need is a properly installed vent out the side of the house and you are ready to go!