*Quoted sections of this article credited to “Basement Makeover” featured in Liberty Mutual’s “Liberty Lines Winter 2011″ Issue.
Some of us are lucky enough to have a little piece of added real estate on our properties called a basement. Not me- I live in Oklahoma, where attics rule (interesting, given our record for tornados). But some of you out there have the golden nugget of hidden potential in your unfinished basements. And you’re thinking of all the wonderful uses for that space: a play room, an extra guest room, a man cave. Hold your horses! Liberty Mutual says there are a few highly essential moves to make before calling in the decorator.
Photo by hometheaterdesignmag.com
1) Safeguard Furnishings. “High humidity is all it takes to ruin fabrics and corrode sensitive electronics. Fortunately, a portable or whole-house dehumidifier can dry out the air. Just be sure high humidity isn’t caused by water leaks in floors or walls or from appliances.”
2) Check appliances. “Imagine: You’re not home when a washing machine hose bursts. Unless you hear water running and shut it off immediately you face major flooding. The best prevention is to replace rubber washer hoses with stainless steel-clad hoses or install an automatic shutoff valve.”
3) Keep walls dry. “Water that collects around a home’s foundation can soak the soil and penetrate cracks. This may damage insulation and drywall. For prevention, divert water away from foundation.” Also, “make sure your sump pump us adequately sized to remove water from around the foundation. And ask a professional about using a backflow preventer, a device installed with the home’s drain system that allows water to flow only one way.”
4) Maintain fixtures. “Water heaters have life expectancies of 10 or 11 years so replace yours if its older. Also, make sure your toilet and sink supply lines have shutoff valves.”
5) Protect floors. Winter times means frozen pipes. Insulate them by wrapping in heat tape. “When choosing flooring, be sure the manufacturer recommends it for below-grade installation. Select carpet that’s made with a rubberized backing and can be easily removed.”
So now that you’re armed with the tips that professionals live by, its time to get started on those blue prints! And call in your favorite decorator for those tough decisions on flooring, paint colors, light fixtures and decor- the cherry on top!