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Old 12-22-2010, 05:37 PM   #1
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insulate basement


I was told once to hang visqueen between cement wall and framing, so when you insulate the wall the fiberglass insulation doesn't suck moisture from cement wall. is this right ? or shoulld i insulate then put the visqueen on the inside

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Old 12-24-2010, 12:24 AM   #2
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First, forget fiberglass batt insulation, period. Fg batts won't suck the water out, but they do SUCK. No vapor barrier below grade; your wall needs to breathe to the inside, since it can't to the outside. And, unless your code MANDATES a vapor barrier, don't use one anywhere. Use an air barrier instead. If you have moisture, all the vb against the blocks will do, as far as I can see, is keep the blocks wet. Then comes the mold. That is an outside problem that needs to be addressed. Read on buildingscience.com, and search here; plenty of threads on this. Good luck.

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Old 12-24-2010, 01:01 AM   #3
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I guess it matters where you live. I live in eastern Washington (state) we have no moisture problems or very little. Fiberglass insulation in the basement is standard then a vapor barrier then drywall. I have never seen a cinder block foundation in my life ( cinder block is for manufactured homes).
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Old 12-24-2010, 03:04 AM   #4
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I know: Hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. Romeo and Juliet. FG and visqueen. Etc. I used FG when I built in '80, too, as it was "what everybody does". But now I know better. Sure, it works, but it works poorly, esp when the temp goes near zero (the R value drops, ironically). Anyone interested should study insulation; there are far better products on the market. (True) VBs are the same thing; everybody used to do it, but they shouldn't any more, unless they are in a real cold climate or have a leaky house and your walls can dry that way. Esp with AC, poly can be very problematic. On greenbuildingadvisor.com I just read of a company in southern Ohio which was doing super well, building houses like mad, and all was rosy. Then people started turning on ACs and found there was a huge amount of water in their walls; wet carpets gave it away. Turns out that the brick, which holds water, was dumping in water when the sun beat on it (solar vapor drive), and that water hit the VB. Bingo. Out of business. VBs below grade are generally no-no's, as the wall can not breathe at all that way. It can work, sure, but it is dangerous and completely unnecessary. In Frb and in MN, the code is "one perm or less"; 6 mil poly is 0.06, therefor a true barrier. Risky.
See http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/...vapor-barriers, for ex:
"Although it’s perfectly legal to install interior polyethylene or vinyl wallpaper in any climate, these products can lead to moisture and mold problems in most of the U.S. Unless you’re building in Canada, Alaska, or somewhere close to the Canadian border, you don’t want interior polyethylene or vinyl wallpaper — especially in an air-conditioned house." (There is more to the story than this, so keep that in mind.)

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Old 12-24-2010, 03:45 AM   #5
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Here is another place to get info on insulating. It seems, in general, in agreement w/ most everywhere else of repute. http://www.insulate.org/ click on the Tech Info, and read the one of VR's.
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Old 12-24-2010, 09:10 AM   #6
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What's the difference in "what everyone was doing" and "what everyone is saying now"?

Science proves things in a controlled setting. In the real world it is very hard to have a controlled setting. That is why some of this stuff in these blogs online just doesn't work.
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Old 12-24-2010, 10:00 AM   #7
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foam is the way to insulate a basement. there are also basement finishing systems out there that take moisture into account.
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:35 PM   #8
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What's the difference in "what everyone was doing" and "what everyone is saying now"?•• There is a huge difference in some instances. One exception is the old standard asphalt felt; still regarded as one of the best, if not the best, water resistant barriers. Why? It's got the physics, that's why.

Science proves things in a controlled setting. In the real world it is very hard to have a controlled setting. That is why some of this stuff in these blogs online just doesn't work.•• I find it funny that some folks think that science is somehow orchestrated in a void, by nerds in white suits and clean fingernails. Just because a person understands the physics of water movement, hygric properties of materials, racking resistance of walls, etc, does not preclude them from going out and building. If people will read enough on the sites I have mentioned they will find that these are highly educated people that actually build as well. In addition, they are the ones who trouble shoot failures, in many cases. Another example is the head (I believe Jack is) of our Cold Climate Research Center, who also has a construction business. Science as separate from "the real world" is a very misguided assessment. Everybody and his brother knows that what happens in a lab does not translate directly to a system as complex as a house. However, until someone comes up with a better starting point, it beats the hell out of guessing and pure trial and error. And, yes, the Net is full of blogs that are full of <deleted>, so you need to spend time sifting through the garbage. I have done that, I feel. Feel free to question anything on the greenbuildingadvisor.com site, for instance. It is an open forum and people are invited to ask questions and challenge responses. At least a few of the folks there have been building, successfully, for decades.
Pls see after the bullets above. And, btw, science HAS TO BE done under controlled environments. That is the whole idea behind it. You can not make any kind of conclusion when you have 17 possible explanations for a phenomenon. Science reduces the variables to a manageable number just so folks know what the reality is. It then takes some thinking to apply that knowledge in a rational and intelligent manner. R-value is great, but it ain't the whole story. However, without at least knowing the R-value, how do you begin? Etc. A house is too complex for T&E.

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Old 12-24-2010, 03:10 PM   #9
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I understand Jklingel. Point taken.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, housing as a whole, has been trial and error since the very first structure was built. Why do you think the codes have so many ammendments every year? Why do we as contractors have yearly classes to keep up on these things? As a matter of fact, my last "teacher" at my last class is very good friends with the blog writer (Joe) for building science. There were plenty of questions in real world construction that they had no answer for.

Yes, some of these people own construction companies, and it's all about the $$$$. They really don't do anything hands on.

But, if we think we can solve world problems and even build a house by reading public online forums and blogs...... go for it.
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Old 12-24-2010, 03:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MJW View Post
I understand Jklingel. Point taken.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, housing as a whole, has been trial and error since the very first structure was built...
So has everything. The scientific method helps explain why stuff doesn't work for the most part, and occasionally points us in a better direction to find a way to make it work better.
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Why do you think the codes have so many ammendments every year?
So code writers can justify their existence?
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Old 12-24-2010, 05:28 PM   #11
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MJ: I think we're pretty much on the same page on most of this. No way in hell is anyone going to only sit around and read, then build a house. However, compared to the cat who has never read (or learned from others; same diff), he/she'd be way ahead. Science is never going to have all the questions answered; the world is way too complex for that. An enormous amount of variables combine for an interaction network that is just too large to be comprehended. That said, if anyone thinks they can just ignore science, they are in for a rude awakening; which is why all the refresher courses and often why there are failures. I don't GAFRA where someone learns, but they better learn first. Things like solar vapor drive, etc, don't just enter a person's brain spontaneously, and without knowing the science behind water movement, a person could spend a long time trying to figger out a solution. As for "...it's all about the $$$$. They really don't do anything hands on....", I think Jack Hebert (CCHRC) and Robert Riversong (a regular on the GBA forum) would point anyone to many just like them. Nuff said on all this: The point is, know your stink, one way or another, before you pick up a hammer.

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