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Old 10-02-2009, 08:01 AM   #1
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


Usually my house is colder inside than outside. Only in Summer it feels
warm. If temparture outside is anything below 75 (even 69), my whole
house starts to feel cold enough that my feet get cold and you will feel
like you are in an ice box. But when I step outside, it is very nice.
I can't figure that one out. My house was built in 1920's and
it is brickwalled 2 story house. 85% of the house is exterior
walls. The walls have 2in to 3in foam (I believe)
and plastic sheeting all over the house for insulation. We even
carpetted the floor with premium padding all over the house and
sealed up our drafty windows for this reason. Although it made the
living space just bearable, it still is not warm enough.

I have a good idea why my house feels cold. For some odd reason there
is ton of cold air or outside air running through my basement cinder
block walls and this runs through my walls. It just so happens that
my first floor sitting on the cinder blocks doesn't have any
insulation underneath the rim joists. So, any air running through
my basement walls directly comes in contact with the rim joists and sill plate.
That tempature is conducted to my walls and the first floor. That in
itself makes everything cold in the house, even though I changed
my old thermostat with new one and insulated the heating ducts.
Nothing seems to make whole a lot of difference. So, my next
plan is to fill the hollow space in the cinder blocks
with pink panther in a plastic bag at the sill plates by stuffing
them in all the way across and completely insulate the heating
ducts all over my house. In short of doing that, I have no
idea what to do or have enough time and money to
get contractors to fix my house. Before I bought the house, I was
told that the house was upgraded or remolded recently. Oh well,
you live and learn I guess. If you take a look at this picture I
took from a website. This is what I am planning on doing - fill
the cinder block cavity just underneath the sill plate.



Will this work?
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Old 10-02-2009, 08:22 AM   #2
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


You have access to the voids in the cinder blocks? In the attached picture, that structure doesn't look good. The sill plate is not fully supported.
One of the requirements for my addition which is built on an existing foundation was to fill the hollow blocks with grout. The only way I could do that was to tear down the old structure to gain access to the top of the block.
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Old 10-02-2009, 12:08 PM   #3
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


First: I am not a mason person, I have been around many jobs which have used those type blocks, BUT--within the cavity of these blocks, re-bar was placed and concrete poured into the cavity to strengthen the top of the wall. I agree with Clutchcargo that the sill in the picture is not placed correctly, it does not have support under the full width of the sill. Suggestion: If you don't have one, get something to measure relative humidity in your home. Damp air will make air feel colder than normal. I live in the South where we have high humidity and run a de-humidifier in my home almost year round, it does help make the house more comfortable. Another thing would be to place a thermometer say in the basement, take readings on a scheduel, then do the same for each floor of the home. See if there is a major temp difference between floors. Does the first floor have insulation underneath it? This may be a good idea for you. Good Luck, David
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Old 10-02-2009, 01:48 PM   #4
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


Clutchcargo: My cinder blocks are hollow I was able to run my measuring tape 10ft down until it stopped. Lot of my sill plates are exactly situated as in the picture, but there are at least 4 rim joists all together running all the way to the end. So, I do have access to the cinder block cavity but not for all of them. When I put my fingers into the cavities, you can feel gust of outside air rushing into the basement. I've also noticed that my rim joists don't have anything underneath them to protect them from outside air. So, whatever the temperature outside is that air hits my joists and my first floor corners feels very very chilly.

Thurman: My basement ceiling was open and didn't have any insulation. All I saw was floor joists and electrical wire running here and there. So, I have completely filled all of them with pink panthers and afterward completely stapled vapor barrier plastics. Still, the house is so cold.

I did forget to mention that I have a coal room that is not being used at all or even heated. It is located right underneath my front porch. That room is not insualated at all and the cinder blocks run all the way to the end of the house to the coal room. Apparently, there might be a damage to the cinder blocks in my coal room that it is letting the outside air. However, I don't have complete access to the coal rooms. Plus, I don't know how to check for the source of my air infiltration.

I am stuffing, caulking, foaming every gaps and cracks I can find and I am still not comfortable in the house. What's funny is that my termostat says that it is 70 or 71. You would think that at that temparture, my house should feel toasty, but it feels like 60 or 62. First winter in my house was so horrible. My furnance ran and ran every 30 minutes, but we still felt chilly and cold. Can you believe we were all wearing coats in the house? lol. Its funny now. Now, we can breath a little that it is bearable to be at home but it still could be better. Any idea or hints will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 10-02-2009, 02:42 PM   #5
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


Any insulation you can get into the blocks would certainly help. However, I would verify that the sills are properly supported.

The idea of using styrofoam against the rim joist is good, I did it to my basement, and it keeps the basement at least 3 or four degrees warmer than previously.

You can use expanding foam inside the blocks, it will act both as insulation and will reduce drafts. You are going to need to get something into the block first to provide a stopping place for the foam, fiberglass would probably work well. Then fill above the fiberglass to the top. Alternatively, you could cut styrofoam and force it into the block, push it down about 5 or six inches then fill above with foam.

To do all the blocks will require a lot of foam, you might want to hire the job out, or you can get a commercial foaming system, rather than buying Great Stuff or equivalent by the can.

The previous post recommending that you check your relative humidity is an excellent idea. At 70 or 71 degrees, you should feel warm, unless the humidity is really high. If the humidity is the problem, you can address that by use of a dehumidifier.
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Old 10-02-2009, 03:01 PM   #6
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


It is possible to have a relatively high air temperature and still not feel warm enough if the building elements like the walls are cold. This is because your body will lose heat by radiation to these elements. Central heating radiators tend to heat the air by convection and not the elements, whereas radiated heat will heat the elements more than the air. This type of heat is more comfortable as a lower air temperature is not as stuffy.
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Old 10-02-2009, 10:18 PM   #7
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


You could also compare using the tiger spray foam kit instead of insulated block against the rim joist.
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Old 10-19-2009, 10:10 AM   #8
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


Okay, I spent my Friday night and whole weekend to do what I wanted to do with my basement walls. Today, it was 35F to 40F. I have to say that my effort made a significant difference, but it is not warm enough that my 80% furnance runs once every 40 minutes or when it really gets cold out my furnance runs and runs every 10 minutes. At this rate my furnance might breakdown and will be needing repair or worse has to be replaced with a new furnance. In fact, the previous owner's furnance was broken when the home inspector carefully looked into it. Granted my windows are leaky and I also spend sometime sealing them up. With all my efforts, the house is not comfortable and/or warm enough. I am not asking for toasty living space but at least it should be comfortable enough that you don't need to wear a coat or double layer of socks. It is crazy. For that I can sleep on a street or sidewalk and save all the headaches and pain in paying mortgage payment every month or better yet live in my car.

After spending so much money and time fixing stuff in my house myself, I came to three conclusion.
1.) The house was built in 1921 and it met the standards then when gas price or coal price was a penny per 1000 cubic feet. So, you could run your furnance all day and night without having to worry about heating bills or coal price.
2.) For such a small living space (30ft X 20ft) (600sqftx2floors) and 2 floors, my house has 11 windows total. 3 windows in each bedrooms on the top floor. 3 windows in the living room. Plus, there is a glass door that opens to my deck. Even though I did my best to seal them up, you can still feel the breeze when you put your hand near the windows. Definitely, they need to be replaced.
3.) My hollow cinder block basement walls are one of the main reason for my house feeling cold. It seems like my cinder blocks are very porous that they are letting in outside air to infiltrate my basement walls. As a result, the outside air infiltrates my other walls cooling my house even further. If you were to sit in my living room with thermostat set at 70F, you will feel like you are sitting inside my fridge. But my thermostat will say 70f in the
house and will run every 10 to 15 minutes.

So, what this means is no matter what I do, nothing is going to make any difference at all. Unless, I get the contractors to come in to fill my basement walls completely with their insulation and the windows contractor to replace all my windows with brand new state of the art windows. If that is the case, I am totally screwed cause I don't have the money and my furnace is going to run my heating bill through the roof. Since the day I bought the house, I have been spending time and money just for weatherizing my house and it is starting to take a lot out of me. Unless, Obama is going to give us more stimulus money (LOL). Joking aside I am mad at the previous owner who told me that there nothing wrong with the house.

As a last option, I am going to buy me a dehumidifier and run it all day and all night to see if its because there is too much moister in the air. If the thermostat is saying 70F in the living room and you feel like it is 60, then it just might be that the air is too humid.

If anyone has any solution or ideas or links to contractors (wall insulators and windows), please leave comments. Thank you.

Last edited by diy4life; 10-19-2009 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:28 AM   #9
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


Quote:
Originally Posted by Clutchcargo View Post
You have access to the voids in the cinder blocks? In the attached picture, that structure doesn't look good. The sill plate is not fully supported.
One of the requirements for my addition which is built on an existing foundation was to fill the hollow blocks with grout. The only way I could do that was to tear down the old structure to gain access to the top of the block.
tear down the old structure?????

You mean level down your house all the way to the basement walls and then rebuild? LOL
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:36 PM   #10
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


Quote:
Originally Posted by diy4life View Post
tear down the old structure?????

You mean level down your house all the way to the basement walls and then rebuild? LOL
It's only an 8x11 sunroom bump on the side of the house, not the whole house.
It does sound funny and I thought it was crazy too but yes, that's what I had to do to gain access to the top of the wall so that I could grout and rebar the blocks.
My argument to the city was.. the entire 2 story house is built on hollow blocks and there wasn't a problem there... but to add a level to the sunroom the city wanted either the blocks filled or an engineer signoff. The engineer told me to fill the blocks too. The inspector came around to make sure I tore it down before letting me proceed.
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Old 10-19-2009, 03:24 PM   #11
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


Sometimes concrete block are filled with liquid foam or loose fill foam beads to gain insulation if required the full height of basement walls. Make sure there are 4'-6' on center J-bolts with mortar in the block holes to keep the house where it belongs. Seal all air gaps: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/2908/2908-9025/2908-9025.html
Be safe, Gary
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Old 11-19-2009, 10:37 AM   #12
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heat loss through hollow cinder blocks


Okay, I have completed my basement project as much as possible and it definitely made a big difference in the comfort level. But now I have a question about my furnance.

Now, that I have completely blocked all the gaps and cracks in my basement walls and at the rim joists, there is hardly any fresh or outside air coming into my basement. Then, doesn't my 80% furnance need outside air to burn gas more efficiently? There is no fresh air intake for my furnance. What I have been doing is opening one of my tiny rectangluar glass window just slightly enough to let some air into the basement for my furnance. But people I talk to tell me that I don't need to do that and that I already have air in the house to heat and circulate. I may look dumb (LOL), but I learned in my science class that fire needs fuel, oxygen and heat to burn at its best. If my furnance burns off most or all oxygen in my basement, how is it going to burn natural gas. Also, that if you seal all your cracks and gaps, there won't be air in the basement for the furnance byproduct, carbon monoxide (CO), to run out the chimney. Instead, the negative pressure will pull outside air through the chimney and flood CO into your house.

I am baffled. What is the real soultion? Please, help. This is my first time owning a home. So, I am learning as I go.
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