8 Causes and Locations of Moisture To Discover In Basements Prior To Installing Basement Insulation
Damp basements and crawlspaces are common across the United Sates of America, they are often ignored and mysterious, here is what to learn before installing basement insulation.
Basement insulation requires a checklist of possible issues prior adding the actual insulation. Why? Primarily because of moisture issues. Look for these items to determine if there is a cause for action to remedy.
- Is water seeping into the basement through the walls?
- Is there evidence of past water ( efflorescence or silty residue where floor slab meets foundation walls)?
- Does the home smell musty or moldy?
- are there vents to the crawl space and do they currently have a useful function in keeping the space healthy?
- Are there dedicated exhaust for bathroom or kitchen vents?
- Do the basement walls feel wet, are they reading high levels of moisture at certain times?
- Is there puddles or standing water anywhere around low spots or drains?
- Is there rust or oxidation on metal mechanical components or supply lines?
Water Seepage and Dampness can be a result of four major categories
- Excess interior moisture as a result of lack of ventilation, body heat, cooking, showers, vaporizers etc where warm air is rising to the attic through seams in the interior pressure barrier creating mold, mildew and moisture on the attic sheathing if ventilation issues are not addressed.
- Condensation as a result of cold and warm air contact, as vapor will condense into liquid ( think window condensation in winter)
- Exterior causes such as drainage issues, blocked drains, incorrect slope of driveways, patios, or sidewalks, window wells not being drained properly, gutters and downspouts directing water to the basement / crawl space *this is a big culprit btw
- Water seepage from hydrostatic pressure, foundation holes and cracks, areas not sealed, waterproofing of exterior foundation walls, parameter drains, etc
Now, with the moisture dampness and seepage solved we can begin the basement insulation.
Now, we ask what is the purpose of the space. What will it be used for primarily. This determines if sound control is needed, thermal control, or something else. This takes up back to the other two factors. Cost. and Performance.
Basement insulation is normally reserved for basement conversions to living spaces. Otherwise the rim joist and sill plate can be sealed but further methods such as insulation on the walls is rarely done as the basement maintains a constant 55 -65 degrees year round from being below ground.
Basement insulation is commonly achieved with fiberglass batt between wood framing or fiberglass wall panels. Fiberglass batt installed paper side against the living space drywall similar to attic insulation fiberglass batts with paper face being installed on the bottom of the attic floor in contact with living room drywall.
We will look more at insulation materials in other sections.
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Final note on crawl space ventilation. To disperse moisture, building code typically prescribe 1 sq ft. of screened vents for each 150 sq ft. of dirt floor, or 1 sq ft. of vents for every 1,500 sq ft of floors covered with a soil vapor barrier. to achieve cross ventilation, vent openings are distributed equally along the length of at least two opposite sides; openings should be covered with 1/4 in wire mesh to prevent rodents, pests, large insects such as wasps from taking residence in the crawl space.
Green Attic Insulation encapsulates crawl spaces turning them into semi conditioned spaces, in the process we close off vents to create a dry clean air tight environment.
Many building scientists agree to seal off crawl space vents and make the crawl space a semi conditioned space. Install a vapor barrier, insulate the crawl space walls, seal air leaks, and install a dehumidifier.