How to improve basement air quality

Are you looking for tips on how to improve basement air quality?

If so, you’re not alone.

A lot of people have air quality issues with their basements.

This is because basements often have high levels of dust, mold, and dampness, which can lead to unclean air and musty or unpleasant odors.

In addition, your basement may not have good air circulation, and this can make the air feel stuffy and stale.

To help you fix the air quality in your basement, we put together this article with the top ways for how to keep your basement clean, dry, and smelling fresh.

After using these tips, you should find your basement a more pleasant place to be.

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How to Improve Basement Air Quality

1. Clean the Air

The quickest and simplest way to improve the air in your basement is to clean it.

To accomplish that goal, all you have to do is invest in an air purifier.

Air purifiers work by drawing in the basement air and forcing it through a series of air filters.

These filters trap and contain the contaminants that might be floating around, such as dust, mold spores, bacteria, allergens, and others—all of which can contribute to bad smells and a not-so-fresh feeling in your basement.

To ensure that you’re trapping the vast majority of harmful particles, it’s imperative that you get an air purifier that’s equipped with a True HEPA filter.

True HEPA filters are the only type certified to capture 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns in size.

With a True HEPA air purifier, you can remove the widest range of contaminants inside your basement to make the air clean.

The second thing you want to look for is an Activated Carbon filter. 

Activated Carbon filters are the only type of filter that can trap airborne odors. So, if you want to get rid of any musty smells, an air purifier with an Activated Carbon filter is the way to go.

Finally, you can also kill off airborne bacteria, viruses, and mold spores by getting an air purifier with an Ultraviolet light

Ultraviolet lights are the only technology that can destroy the DNA makeup of microorganisms and pathogens to keep your basement air quality sterile.

We’ve made it easy for you to find the best air purifiers for basements here. All you have to do is check out that page to see reviews of the top air purifiers for basement floors.

That guide will give you information on how to find the right size air purifier for your basement to ensure that your air is as fresh as possible.

>> See all of Amazon's Best Selling Air Purifiers <<

2. Add Ventilation

One of the biggest reasons why basements have such poor air quality is because they don’t have enough ventilation.

Poor ventilation is also why the air can feel thick.

There are a couple of different options that can help improve your basement air ventilation.

The first is to add a mechanical ventilation system.

Mechanical ventilation systems have the ability to bring fresh air from outside into your basement—and you don’t need to add windows.

This option can be incredibly energy efficient and help improve the quality of your basement air.

However, the downside to a mechanical ventilation system is that they can be expensive, and they have to be installed by a qualified HVAC technician. But, if you have the means, these are a really good investment.

If you can’t afford a mechanical ventilation system, the second option you have is to add an air purifier along with a dehumidifier (explained next) to your basement.

Using these portable air cleaning devices together are a much more affordable option.

If you happen to have windows in your basement, you might think that keeping them open is a good way to ventilate your basement, but this may not be the case.

During the summer, when humidity levels are high and outdoor allergens are prevalent.

Therefore, keeping your basement windows open can lead to problems.

To ensure that the humidity levels stay at the right level and the number of pollutants in your basement’s air doesn’t increase, it’s advised that you keep your basement windows closed while letting the air ventilation system you choose do the hard work.

3. Remove Moisture

One of the reasons your basement smells the way it does is because of moisture.

When it comes to how to improve basement air quality, getting rid of humidity and dampness in the basement can make it smell less musty and make the air feel less stifling.

Not only can moisture in a basement make it feel gross, but it can also contribute to the growth of mold and mildew—both of which can impact the smell and air quality in this space.

Mold can also impact you and your family’s health.

Being exposed to mold has been linked to allergic reactions, coughing, sneezing, nasal congestion, eye irritation, insomnia, fatigue, and memory loss.

The best way to get rid of moisture in your basement is to add a dehumidifier.

A dehumidifier extracts moisture from the air so it can dry the air out.

Ideally, you want to keep the humidity level in your basement between 30 and 50%.

If the levels are below 50%, this will ensure that mold can’t survive and grow.

4. Seal Up Cracks and Gaps

It’s also a good idea to seal up any cracks or gaps in your basement as well, as these can contribute to high moisture levels.

This will include any issues in the foundation or for doors or windows that are leaking.

You can use silicone caulk or expanding foam to help with this sealing process.

5. Get Rid of VOCs

If you have an unfinished basement, then you probably use this area to store a variety of different items, including gas, stains, lacquers, or paints.

All of these items put off fumes called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can impact air quality levels and your health.

Since most basements have poor ventilation, keeping these items stored in the basement floor can allow the VOCs to build to toxic levels.

Thus, it’s a good idea to store these items in another area of your property that does have good ventilation, including in an outdoor shed or your garage.

Additionally, if you don’t store those types of items in your basement, but have recently painted, the paint on the wall can also contribute VOCs to the air.

To reduce the chances of this happening, it’s a good idea to always use low-VOC paint in your basement and throughout your house.

This is especially true if you ever paint or seal an unfinished basement floor. The most common type of paint for this job is called two-part epoxy, and it releases a strong odor and harmful VOCs into the air.

Never use a two-part epoxy paint without a lot of ventilation or opening the windows in your basement for the fumes to escape.

Any Basement Can Benefit from Improved Air Quality

No matter what issue is occurring in your basement, whether it’s poor ventilation, high levels of moisture, or VOCs, there’s a way to take care of them.

When asking how to improve basement air quality, the easiest and most cost-effective way to handle poor basement air quality is to add an air purifier to the space.

As mentioned, we’ve put together a review of the best air purifiers for basements here. Take a look at that page to find a unit that will work well to improve your basement’s air quality.

Avatar for Katherine Dyson

About Katherine Dyson

Katherine is the lead Staff Writer. She conducts in-depth research and interviews with industry experts in order to produce a wide range of content for the site. Her main role is to write helpful articles that aid people who are seeking to improve their indoor air quality and comfort. (See Full Bio)