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Old 12-23-2009, 09:13 AM   #1
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finished basement, but NOT insulated!


the previous owners had the basement finished two years ago... but for SOME reason they did not insulate ANYTHING! they put 2x1 furring strips on the concrete walls then drywalled it up... all thats between the drywall and concrete is air... not even a vapor barrier... no XPS foam or anything... any idea what my options are? I want this done right... there is no insulation on the rim joists either where the sill plate is.. now that one isnt to hard since its a drop cieling and 1/3rd of it is unfinished still I could put XPS in there and caulk the gaps... done... but then thats not up to fire code in the unfinished part (as we require drywall over it) and I'd assume its not up to code in the finished part either as it has a drop ceiling and not boarded up... any ideas on what I can do?.. it gets cold down there and the floors above get cold also due to it (hardwood floor) around the rim joist area....
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Old 12-23-2009, 11:31 AM   #2
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Well, since basements account for something like 30% of your house's heat loss $, then you are right in attacking that properly. Like the rim joists...good! With the drywall that guy installed for you, you have a (bad) vapour retarder but since the walls are cold anyway, l bet you'll have a mould situation back there at some point...

So back to the basics for a house in a cold zone. You want to create a thermal break between the walls and the inside of your basement and make it so that humid air does not condense on them. The most efficient is spray-foam because that deals with the second part of the equation: vapour movement.

So, the 'thermal break' could be spray-foam, isocyanurate panels, XPS or EPS, or a 2x4 studded wall with fibreglass insulation in it. I don't know if your city or your state has a minimum code that governs things like this but you probably have the choice of the confort you wish to have in your life, so decide accordingly. But some jurisdictions cover the wall with polyethylene, that depends, but after the insulation, you probably need a vapour retarder, like faced fibreglass batts, or even painted drywall, but something that will impede moisture from getting to your walls.

Remember it is a system, not just a collection of individual pieces, so the vapour retarder will depend on what insulation you have chosen, and all that may depend on the heating system you have and the construction of your house...! It's all interconnected.

But if it were my house, I'd realise that his wall is there for appearance only and may be causing more harm than good, so I'd get rid of it.
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Last edited by ccarlisle; 12-23-2009 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 12-24-2009, 02:33 AM   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heelan7d0 View Post
Little off Topic maybe.
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Old 12-24-2009, 07:28 AM   #4
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If a basement wall is finished then the codes require it to be insulated. So you should remove all these walls. Read more on how to do these walls correctly. In US climates no vapor barrier is to be used. In Canada you would use one. Above ground areas of the walls need to be treated differently than below ground sections. Read more on the science and methods to build these walls at www.buildingscience.com.
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Old 12-24-2009, 07:44 AM   #5
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Yup good reading, that...!

You'll see that the choices of insulation methods you have depend not on geographical boundaries nor on local building codes - but on climatic zones and physics that cross state and national boundaries - and ignore government jurisdictions.

For example, vapour "barriers" (ie Class I vapour retarders) are used in 'very cold' zones like we have but down the road apiece in a 'cold' zone, they don't need them. Nobody "told" us to...just makes sense.

Conversely, New Hampshire and Vermont may not "need" them but, I reckon, should. Probably do.
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