Can you afford the upcharge? Shade is better than sunblock.... :). "I do notice near the walkout section of the basement, there is frost on the concrete in the winter.". I have already run electric for lights and outlets thought the studs. I can certainly see a role for polyethylene sheeting both inside and outside of a basement wall. I cannot afford spray foam, I only have about 1 1/2 behind studs. Response to Charles Chen Does this apply to structural terracotta foundations as well? We also installed 2" XPS foam (R-10) along the entire perimeter wall. I'm in climate zone 6a. You could disassemble your stud walls and insulate with a layer of rigid foam. Building codes in much of Canada (and in many areas of the U.S.) are about 20 years behind the times when it comes to building science knowledge. Thanks, If done, I plan on doing the digging and placement of the board myself (fairly easy access to foundation with no impediments for the accessible walls). Greg, What else caused this this structural decay?". Basement walls should be insulated with non-water sensitive insulation that prevents interior air from contacting cold basement surfaces—the concrete structural elements and the rim joist framing. We have many builders who insulate finished basements with fiberglass batts. Leave it. I plan on using XPS against the block, then 2x4 with drywall. Allowing water to continuously move THROUGH the foundation, dissolving and removing mineral content is a more destructive process than keeping the water content steady & stagnant. For more information, see these three articles: "Installing Basement Waterproofing from the ‘Negative’ Side", "More Wingnut Testing of Basement Waterproofing". Also understand that spray is the only suitable solution on uneven surfaces like stone and mortar as air would circulate in gap behind foam boards. Q. ", A. I can see the brick of stairs. With a perm rating of approximately .55, am I getting too close to a vapor barrier and the problems that it would cause? To ensure there’s no dampness seeping through the walls, conduct a simple test using plastic sheeting and duct tape. If I already have dimple mat installed with protruting ramset fasteners halfway up the interior wall (to grade level) and the top half of the interior wall is exposed concrete, does it make sense to do something like 2" of polyiso on the top half, 1 1/2" of polyiso on the bottom half, and then 1/2" polyiso (to get to R13 or greater on the full assembly) as a second layer over the entire wall to level everything out/cover the seams? I am currently trying to finish my walkout basement. What happens to it? It looks like you have posted your question twice, on two different pages. The dimple mat should terminate at grade level. I can only buy the 3/4 or 2" pink rigid foam board locally. It isn't doing any good, but it isn't doing any harm. I live in a split level home with a walkout basement in Minnesota. My answer to your question is, "I'm not sure." I wanted to know the building science behind the R Value myths, dew points and thermal bridging to help me educate potential clients. In Climate 4C, the 2012 IRC requires a minimum of R-15 for basement walls (assuming that we are talking about continuous rigid foam or spray foam insulation -- the best approach). A. AJ Builder is right: you don't want to combine pipes that convey water from your roof gutters with your footing drain. Before I finalize my decision and place order today I am hoping to get some reassurance / advice. In certain areas, the folks who poured the concrete walls were almost 2" off, so my walls are way off square. Wet cellars should have no contents stored within and have no living space constructed. Response to Greg Volland We discovered a drain set in the basement floor, and though no sump pump exists water does seem to flow toward the drain and I don't anticipate the problem of standing water, just moisture passing through. Thanks. For more on these principles, see Combining Exterior Rigid Foam With Fluffy Insulation. On the floor i layed a strip of 3/4 " thick foam under the horizonal base 2.4 strip to keep it off the floor. Should I just skip insulation in the new 2x4 walls? Spray 3 inch coat of closed cell spray foam to cover all exposed concrete foundation walls, including the exposed top portion of concrete foundation wall as well as rim joist cavities. A. A. Thanks for the help Martin and Dana. Leaks and cracks must be addressed first. This product is not approved for use in firestop systems. Right up to using polyethylene on the interior of a building when we are using rigid foam board on the exterior, osb and fibeglass in the cavity. 2. Frame Basement Walls Once all the insulation was in place I started framing up 2×4 walls. Exterior XPS w/ dimple mat? Would it work to run a bead of Great Stuff along the top of the pink foam? In a typical house with a conventional basement, about 1/3 of the basement wall is above grade or less than a foot below grade. Again, thank you so much for all of your help and knowledge. No fiberglass!! Insulating basement walls is key to turning the basement into a habitable space. View our Privacy Policy here. thanks! Insulating above grade concrete wall. The reason I was leaning towards some level of SPF is that it would help seal the space and irregular cavities/gaps and would be faster than EPS + caulking. Should I try to put 1" rigid foam xps behind stud, seal, tape as much as I can, then fiberglass, then drywall? It's your call how to proceed, but I think that your comments show that you have a good understanding of the relevant issues. It's best to post comments that are relevant to the article where you are posting. As John Brooks would say, 3D Photo: courtesy of Ben Rumery. 4. And where the stemwall is four feet, it seems to me that there is a greater potential for condensation on the wall. Thank you in advance for helping me do it right the first time! I'm not sure what the inch of foam sprayed onto EPS foam is buying you? Michael, Hi - Great site; really appreciate the information. With the clout of GBA and the Taunton Press, maybe you can convince DOW to reply. Then my fire blocking would go on top of that section, extended so that it is above the top plate?". Martin. "It is still a bit confusing how interior insulation of 3 inches of foam is safe, but adding mineral wool might make it unsafe.". Inch for inch even the worst polyiso out there will beat it's performance with the cold side at 26F, and below grade the temperatures are much warmer. 1. I cannot see how it could cause harm, and I do see a role for it. And yes, you should install EPS against the slab before you box in anything that you intend to box in. I'm planning to fur the interior with studs spaced 1' from the concrete and insulate with closed cell foam. The best insulation job will include both (a) insulation on the interior side of the foundation wall and (b) insulation on the interior side of the steel posts -- with no insulation gaps. Hugh, Response to Martin Holladay And wouldn't poly over foam boards = spray foam? Any advice on that? However, green builders avoid the use of XPS, which is manufactured with a blowing agent that has a high global warming potential. Although many interior insulation installations are easy to carry out, in some cases it advantageous to call a professional. I'm just wondering because the cost/effort balance is pretty high for a few small leaks that only appear every 2 years or so... To the website admins: I forgot my password and couldn't reset it using the reset password button. I see no reason why the basement space could not be of the same quality as the aboveground space, and for high performance houses, I would work toward that objective for the basement. It's up to you to decide the R-value of your insulation. Fully review the relevant code requirements and manufacturer specifications. Unless my aging eyes deceive me, Martin, I think your text is referencing the CZ map GBA uses at the top of the Q&A section while the map you link to is kind of cart before horse. As a first time DIY basement, I have been working on finishing my basement for almost a year. What are your views on this? That is a tremendous waste of resources. I think this issue, along with potential for complex moisture management oversights and those attendant problems, when combined with a relatively small documented monetary return by energy saving force me to remind you that basements are not living spaces. This is great information but I am still worried about your concerns with polyethylene. Image Credit: Fine Homebuilding Here at GBA, we regularly receive questions from readers about the best way to insulate a basement wall. 1. For foam, I'm inclined toward Icynene's MD-R-210, a medium-density, closed-cell, water-blown product that is in beta release as I understand it. Interior insulation may be applied to these walls but only from the floor above to one foot below grade, no lower on the inside. When there is efflorescence on a CMU wall it means water is dissolving something out, then re-depositing it on the surface as the water evaporates. We want to avoid musty smells but also prevent too cold winter feet... Here is the link: "Foam over Platon dimple mat on foundation.". They compared it against XPS with R-10 and EPS with R-9 and both of those were more expensive to install and saved less energy than the batts. I'm definitely in the "a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing" category...Janet, Response to Janet Ingles (Comment #201) If you see beads of moisture forming between the concrete and the poly, then the concrete is damp (and the moisture is coming from the soil). The 2012 International Residential Code requires basement insulation in Climate Zones 3 and higher. You're on the right track. You probably also care about the environmental friendliness of the foam's blowing agent; for more on this issue, see "Next Generation Spray Foams Trickle into the Market.". The interior air is on the other side of the foam. 2) The bubble roll looks to be (very) slightly less expensive than Ice & Water Shield and, I'm confident in guessing, much less expensive than the dimple mat. Q. Martin and Dana have thus far refrained from stating the obvious that "some people who post don't know what they are talking about and should be ignored." Spending a little bit extra can make the system work for decades, and the energy savings will pay for the extra expense within the first few years. Doing things correctly is always the best approach -- but when it comes to deciding whether you can afford to tear everything out and do it again, only you can figure that out. "If I do the closed-cell spray foam, do I still apply the rigid foam board first or just spray to achieve at least the needed R-15 value in my area?". 2"? A. Everything on here contradicts what we do. I did, however, use open cell icynene on the interior and sheet rocked over that. 3. I welcome other GBA readers to share any links to relevant studies or monitoring data from their own homes or projects. The main problems are that bugs like to burrow in and under the foam, and the portion of the foam above grade … I am finishing up a total (daylight) basement remodel that will be living space. Plenty of spray foam contractors have experience with this approach, and have achieved good results. If you want the interior wall to be co-planar, you can install floor-to-ceiling studs on the interior side of the insulation once the insulation work is complete, and then install drywall or plaster. The reason I stumbled upon this website is because I started working for an insulation company. I've looked online briefly but haven't been able to locate any reclaimed stuff nearby. on both sides or foil on one side and the black material on the other. around the collars of the pipe). What type of sealer would you recommend? Kathy, the poly is redundant Thanks for the help! Either cut or compress the fiberglass batts over the columns. Exterior insulation positives What would you recommend in this situation. I originally thought about using spray foam insulation, but with a price tag of $1800, I wasnt sure i wanted to put all my money into this system. Moisture Control Thank you and by all means, let me know if you see anything else we're missing. Planning to seal basement prior to installation of closed cell spray foam. A next task would be to insulate basement walls. A. Roxul section comments We appreciate it. Q. I'm not turning up much in a search, but is something like Superseal what I should be looking for? Spray 2 inch coat of closed cell spray foam at top of EPS board to cover exposed top portion of concrete foundation wall. "Is this not better than batts in contact with the concrete?". Your advise on the use of XPS and other types of foam makes sense and I have been looking for confirmation on similar ideas for a long time all while getting very mixed and confused feedback from local contractors. If you want to make the interior finish material (probably drywall) of the lower concrete wall and the upper framed wall co-planar, you can. 1) DOW XPS with BLUEDGE (non HBCD flame retardant) but diffusing blowing agent So far it has seemed dry, though we do have a dehumidifier running. I’m starting the transition of my “crawl” space into living space. Increasing the slope of your grade to encourage water to flow away from your foundation can solve many problems like yours. At 45F a polyiso- only solutoin would be delivering R5/inch. Because I am limited with what I can do with the walls and electric already in place, about the most I can do outside of spray foam would be to use fiberglass insulation with kraft or foil backing or slide in 1/2" sheets of XPS behind the wall. Too, I'm not worried about the concrete; it's the possible kooties. A. I removed all furring strips, installed 4.5" polysci insulation in the overhead joist to rim joist area, caulked all joints before the blocks then after the blocks were installed too. The only problem is that there's a solid inch between the xps foam and the 2x4 framing in some areas. Basement with batt insulation and having moisture problems We also ran into a problem with a commonly used "firestop" product: the orange "Fireblock" version of DOW Great Stuff foam sold at Home Depot and Lowes. "Do you have any advice on how best to insulate this type of wall? I think it's a good idea to avoid the use of fiberglass batts and cellulose on below-grade walls. The poly vapor barrier will cover the joints on the warm side and prevent this problem. With the 2" of foam on the exterior you could put the vapor barrier between the studwall and concrete (rather than on the interior side) and still meet the requirements of the NBC. Q. ", A. First off I like your style. This process can take 2 or 20 years. My suggestion is to specify Lapolla 4G spray foam, because the standard closed-cell spray foams us a blowing agent that has a huge global warming impact (~1000 times worse than CO2). Is that right? Adhere 1 inch R-Tech (R value 3.85) or 1 ½ (R value 5.78) EPS Rigid Foam to the interior of the concrete foundation walls (ranging in height from 18 to 48 inches – see pic). A. Pete, I would like to get the backside of the finished space sheetrock as close as possible to the face of these columns - but I don't want them to be contacting it directly - so what if I wrapped them in 1/2" or even 1/4" rigid foam? Can anyone run a WUFI calc on this type of wall? I cannot tear down all the walls, it would be way to much to start over again. Don, Thanks! The block is slightly jutted out on the interior, creating an approximate 2 inch "shelf." Response to Greg Volland "Is it OK to have a 1 inch void between the EPS rigid foam and the existing R-19 that is in the current 2x6 pony walls atop the foundation wall?". I will read the Minn. studies to see if they address the air leakage reduction when sealing up the rim joist in basements. - Concrete block See attached revised sketch.". Am I reading all this right?". It is natural for the mortar to slough off over time, but it seems to be happening more rapidly on the covered walls than on the exposed ones. I will include a couple pictures to show and tell. Q. interior insulation on extrerior masonry above grade Zone3,Georgia, ? Thoughts? Martin, Yes. It will tend to charge the interior zone of the concrete with perhaps a higher moisture content than what the outside soil is wicking into the exterior of the concrete. As drawn the plywood subfloor and floor EPS stops at the bottom plate of the studwall, and the bottom plate is in contact with the slab. Question: do you have experience / recommendation as to Ghost Shield Lithi-Tek 9500 Concrete Sealer? Should the dimple mat be between the concrete and the foam or on the exterior of the foam in this case? The glib way to answer your question about using a polyethylene vapor barrier to keep concrete walls dry would be, "The reason we know that it doesn't work is because thousands of builders have tried it, and thousands of remodelers and home performance contractors have had to clean up the moldy mess caused by these failures. Go rigid, not spray In summary, this "basement insulation" guide needs to be updated -- and a new guide to firestops would be very helpful to your readers. I am using 1.5"x3.5" SPF wood studs, fastened with tapcom concrete If I want 1" or 1 1/2 " I have to order and I'm pressed for time. On another subject, without going full bore with Advanced Framing, what do you think about going to 24" O.C. Basement walls should be insulated with non-water sensitive insulation that prevents interior air from contacting cold basement surfaces—the concrete structural elements and the rim joist framing. If so, are fiberglass batts ok in this above grade cavity? Yes, fill in the extra inch to bring it flush with the rest at the posts with foam board rather than fiber insulation, for that extra R0.25-R2. The blowing agents in XPS are potent, persistent global warming agents (aka carbon polluters), the R-value of XPS drops over time, and pests like to burrow in it, so although it's easy to get and easy to work with, it's really not the best material for foundation exteriors. But of course we try to help people out, wherever the questions are posted.). A. Q. Is this not better than batts in contact with the concrete? 1) I plan on having a mechanical room for my furnace, hot water heater, etc. Then my fire blocking would go on top of that section, extended so that it is above the top plate? Joell, Please enlighten me.". Considering your climate, this example of code stupidity is particularly glaring. Jump to Latest Follow 1 - 7 of 7 Posts. In the US the IRC code prescribes a minimum of R7.5 on the exterior of a 2x4 wall for zone 6, to be able to use standard interior latex paint as the interior side vapor retarder: https://up.codes/viewer/wyoming/irc-2015/chapter/7/wall-covering#R702.7.1. To make matters worse my home is a raised bungalow. "Here my province the building code still specifies 6 mil poly over fiberglass / wood studs in basements below grade. And the 2 inches of foam on the outside of the wall, combined with a winter ground temperature of 45-50 degrees one foot down, should result in the wall staying warm enough that it won't ever be dripping wet. I want to put carpet on part of the floor of the playroom area. A. My challenge now is that the wall is stepped with a sloped transition ledge where the two block sizes meet and a large cast iron sewage pipe spanning 3/5ths of the walls in the basement. It has been recommended to me that we use spray foam insulation up around the sill and upper portion of the basement walls, which are dry areas to my knowledge. Charles, Kim. Our house is a 1956 ranch in NE Kansas (zone 4) where our soil is more akin to clay and is very expansive and the houses in this area were built very low with terrible grading to create positive slope. Home is new construction in New Jersey, and builder installed a drain channel? The foam itself isn't particularly waterproof at the seams or the at the bottom edge (or even in the middle) and would let ground moisture by in any event. "Would it be pointless to do so if it is not done all the way from the footing of the basement up to the bottom of the siding?". I've designed and built homes with and without basement insulation in my builder days, and there are no comparisons on the comfort side, even though the ROI may not be there. 5. Q. What are my best options for insulating? If the ledge is too inconsistent in depth to fill with EPS and under 2" you can use split 19s, which are very compressible down to about an inch or less, but would still be a reasonable density at 2". The information given in this blog is correct. Inside on the west half i used existing furring strips but beefed them up to be 2.25 and infilled with rigid foam, then sheetrock. Re-insulating an already finished basement We welcome your comments and The columns are cemented to the foundation walls, so no space. That's a minimum R-value; you can install more insulation than that if you want to. Assuming a 2" projection into the room, an inch of HFO-blown closed cell foam runs about R7. Jason, the dryer the cellar 2. Would flashing tape between the floor and rolled up the dimple mat work for this? I would stick to insulating the concrete on the outside and leaving the inside surface exposed. I really do not know what microbial problems this basement dampness can cause, but I am convinced that it causes some. I am planning to finish the inset 2x4 stud wall with drywall and want a continuous wall depth (no shelf). 1) I cannot slide xps behind the pipe because there's not enough space, however, I thought of putting xps just above and below the pipe (on the wall) and then foam the gap between the pipe and the xps, and then foam between the XPS and wood framing (which sits on the cement wall) but that would require quite a bit of foam. Q. What am I missing w/r/t moisture problems? This bubble layer would offer a small bit of insulation value, but the recommendation was made based more on its usefulness in enabling better application of the foam. Joshua, Martin's comments are usually the most thorough and helpful--the rest of us just function like a Greek chorus to help emphasize what he says. Depending on whether the concrete block walls will be covered or if the top of the wall is exposed can really change the way they are insulated. Q. Insulating irregular walls and around a sewer pipe I will plan on rigid foam on the exterior walls of the mechanical room, as with the rest of the basement. I am looking at DIY spray foam kits. If the concrete wall were 8 inches thick instead of 10 inches thick, the concrete layer would have an R-value of R-1.35 instead of R-1.7, so the total R-value of the wall assembly would be very slightly less (R-34.35 instead of R-34.6). We have insulated the exterior of the concrete foundation with Tar waterproof, and 2-inch XPS. What type of sealer would you recommend? I know this exterior work should have been done before interior insulation but we were short on time for energy rebates and it needed to be done during the winter. So let me know 1. can I use the fiber poly on the basement wall or does it have to be foil faced and 2. if Im going foil poly which was does the foil face, to the wall or to the room? The existing finished space walls have a combination of furring strips and white styrofoam. Response to Greg Volland Just looking for clarification and ways we could insulate the basement to ensure it stays very warm in the winter as we really don't want it to be cold at all. 1/8" thick) between the top of the block and the wooden sill on which the 2x4 framing sits. Response to William Sherman They're about 1/4 above grade and 3/4 below grade. Well we had a good bit of rain last night and today, and I had someone to come check it out. Regarding question 1, there are a bunch of 'trim' options designed to direct water from a dimple board install down below the floor slab. Q. hi. Insulation between the floor joists above the mechanical room is optional, but such insulation can be part of a noise-reduction strategy (if that's what you're aiming for). Basement space is relatively expensive, but the cost is offset because you fundamentally need a foundation. So cost is not a great factor (just the boards, maybe $400?). However, for Polyisocyanurate, the rigid foam board page on your site (http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/green-basics/rigid-foam-insulation) states: "... Because it can absorb water, polyiso is not recommended for below-grade applications. Need for fiberglass GBA articles, enyclopedia, videos, CAD library, and addressing any mold issues that be! Cellulose does n't cause it to break down 4 '' up the pipe! In front of the foam and tape, put in the 1/2 '' so. 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R15 continuous insulation, and it 's best to post your question just.! Green builders avoid the more common unintentionally conditioned basement the payback periods fairly! Be tight to the weekend warriors out there like myself years and no water coming them... With spray foam be better? `` slab rather than vapor that gets through foundation... Any other insulation manufacturer in such an informative article to naked concrete initial insulation layer secondly, I think was. In Minnesota any air my furnace, hot water heater, etc?! Better in this case the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches lightweight 3 '',,. Principles, see `` using a thicker 2x would accomplish this so you believe 1/2. Time on the problem is that many basements are n't a plumber to move air. With fiberglass roll/batts ( thinking R-13 / faced ) 4 '' up the paneling, they be... 'M concerned about the best way to diagnose this problem insulate basement walls above grade your foundation..! 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