Why Basements are built in Canada?
Tags: Basements, Canadian homes, Foundation footing, HVAC
What is the importance of Basements in Canadian homes, why they are built, and their vital role in making our homes safe and sound.
Before we understand the reasons for having a basement in a typical Canadian home, I would like to introduce to you a couple of terms that will make it easier to understand this concept.
Frost Line - or which is also called frost depth or freezing depth, is the minimum depth up to which the groundwater in soil is expected to freeze. The local authorities and public works infrastructure determine this frost line depth.
Foundation Footing - A foundation in any home is the most crucial part of the construction as the entire home rests on it, and at the bottom of the foundation is the Foundation footing, the attachment point between the foundation and the soil. The primary role of the foundation footing is to support the structure and prevent settling issues.
The foundation footings, sewer lines and water pipes need to be below the frost line to ensure their proper operation and that they are not frozen during winter. This is the primary reason we have basements in a typical home in Ontario, Canada. The frost line changes from place to place. For example, in South West Ontario, it is 1.2 meters, and if you travel north, it goes up to 1.6 meters, 1.8 meters etc. In a country like ours, where the climate is cold and below freezing, the frost lines are 4-8 feet below. Here you can see the map of Ontario with the frost lines prevalent.
Foundation footing is advisable to be below the frost line to prevent settling issues due to frequent freezing and thawing. To create the footing at this depth, the builders need to excavate.
Hence comes the inspiration for designing the basement, as they have to excavate anyway to this depth. In addition, the creation of a basement provides certain other benefits.
Housing HVAC Equipment – basements are used to house the property’s Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning equipment. Generally, the home's equipment, like natural gas-based furnaces which are essential to keep our homes heated and comfortable, hot water tanks, HRV (Heat Recovery and Ventilation) Units, Humidifiers etc, are kept in the basement.
Provide Natural Insulation - Due to the depth and earth's insulation capabilities, the basements will generally be colder in the summers and relatively warmer in the Winter months, as compared to the upper levels of a house which are exposed to the natural elements.
Extra Space - The basements are generally finished up to create additional space in the property, which might be used for designing a Recreation Room, or for creating an in-law suite or a registered second-unit dwelling for an additional income stream.
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