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Courtesy of Tom & Tracey Capuano with Pillar to Post Home Inspections:
The basement is usually the last place people think to insulate, yet the basement can account for up to 1/3 of heat loss in a home. Upgrading
basement insulation can significantly cut down on energy use. It also
creates a comfortable space - a boon to people who wish to extend their
recreation and living space into the basement. The perfect time to
consider insulating the basement is during a renovation.
Deal with dampness first - Most experts agree that you should deal with any dampness issues before insulating the basement from the interior.
Seek out knowledgeable contractors -
Do not simply follow traditional conventions. Significant advances in
the best techniques for insulating basements mean better results.
Fix basement windows -
One of the most effective strategies for improving the thermal
efficiency of your home is to seal air leaks. Seal and weather strip
basement windows, which are often neglected.
Where Should the Insulation Go?
a building-science point-of-view, it is better to insulate the outside
of the foundation. From a practicality point-of-view, however,
insulation is easier to apply from the inside, especially if done while
Here are the pros and cons of exterior versus interior insulation:
- You can address any foundation water issues at the same time.
- Insulation will not take up interior basement space.
- The foundation itself will be warm (at the interior temperature), reducing condensation issues.
- The foundation stays dry inside, reducing or eliminating mold and mildew.
- Disruptive and expensive: you have to dig soil to get at the foundation.
above-grade portion of the foundation insulation is difficult to finish
and protect. Rigid-foam insulation is the most common exterior
insulation material, most often finished with stucco, a fragile finish
that gets damaged from impact of lawn tools, etc. Possible fix:
use exterior insulation for the below-grade part of the exterior and
then insulate the above-grade part from the inside.
- Much easier to install and less expensive than exterior insulation.
- Does not disrupt landscaping.
- Can be done while renovating the basement.
- Foundation wall will be at exterior temperature (cold), making it prone to condensation. Possible
fix: foam-based insulation that is tightly sealed to the foundation
wall is a good way to control air leakage from the house to the
foundation wall surface.
migration of moisture into the finished wall due to seepage from
outside and from capillary action that draws moisture up from the
ground through the footing.
- Any moisture that gets into the wall system from the two mechanisms above does not dry readily, making the wall prone to mold.
Tom & Tracey Capuano
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