If you are thinking of having your basement converted into a more usable room such as home theatre or games room, you may be wondering if insulating your basement is strictly necessary. Although you may not want to go to the expense and bother of having basement insulation installed, you should really reconsider.
Basement Insulation and Mold
One of the biggest problems faced for any basement owner is mold caused by excess moisture. Mold is really not something you want in your home because it can cause so many structural problems and can damage the health of those living with you. There are a number of ways to get rid of mold and prevent it from occurring including insulation, vapour barriers and dehumidifiers.
Reduce Your Energy Bills with Basement Insulation
Energy prices just seem to be going up and up and there doesn’t seem to be any slowing down. One of the most important things you need to do to keep your energy bills spiralling out of control is by have insulation fitted. Insulation is just as important in your basement as it is in any other part of your home. Without adequate insulation, all the heat generated will simply escape out of your walls and roof.
You might feel tempted to skimp on the basement insulation because you’d prefer to spend the money elsewhere such as buying a home theatre system or gym equipment. You might save money initially but in the long term you will simply be throwing money down the drain.
By installing basement insulation you’ll be slowing the rate at which heat moves about. Because heat movement is slower you’ll find you can prevent your basement getting more damp than it should. You’ll also feel a lot more comfortable whilst making use of your basement because you’ll be warmer and won’t need to have the heating on constantly.
Basement Ceiling Insulation
If you are concerned about the costs involved in insulating you basement then the good news is that it’s not necessary to insulate your basement’s ceiling. This is because your basement is connected to other rooms in your home. This is what the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy advises so it’s probably very good advice.
Basement Wall Insulation
Instead of insulating the ceiling, it’s advised that you insulate the walls instead. Walls also require less insulation than ceilings. Because ceilings typically also contain wires and ducting, installing wall insulation will help create continuous thermal and air leakage boundaries.
Exterior Wall Basement Insulation
Insulating exterior basement walls helps prevent what it known as “thermal bridging” and heat loss. When backfilling, the insulation will help protect the damp-proof coating. It also prevents damp by acting as a capillary break. If you live in a climate which often experiences frost followed by a thaw, the insulation will protect the foundations. It can also prevent condensation which in turn prevents mold from growing.
Types of Basement Insulation
First of all you need to find out what R-value of insulation you require as this depends on where in the country you live. Then you need to decide what type to buy depending on whether you have a new construction or not.
The most common type of insulation is blanket insulation and is available in a batt or roll. The blanket comes made out of fibers which can be either fibreglass, mineral (rock and slaq) wool, cotton, sheep’s wool and other natural fibres. They come in different widths and are great for using in stud walls and floor joists. Some types come with a facing such as paper, foil or vinyl which acts as a vapour barrier as well as an air barrier. If you have existing insulation which you would like to install on top of, then choosing a non-faced blanket is a better choice. Blanket insulation is one of the most cost effective forms of insulation.
Concrete Block Insulation
This is only really suitable for new construction homes or homes which are undergoing major renovation work, so if you’re basement is already built you probably won’t find this to be suitable. Most of them have insulation in the core which can be made from polystyrene, polyurethane or polyisocyanurate.
Foam Insulation Boards
These are rigid panels of insulation which are very versatile and can be used in many parts of your home and not just the basement. Not only are they great for heat insulation but they also add an element of structural support. You will find that the foam used is polystyrene, polyisocyanurate or polyurethane. If you’re home is prone to insect infestations then you should buy foam insulation panels which have an insecticide such as borate in it. Although insects don’t actually eat the foam, they do borrow through it.
If you’re basement is already finished then loose-fill insulation is one of the better options you have. Basically, a special piece of equipment blows fibre, foam and other materials into a wall cavity. It is best to have this type of insulation fitted by professionals who have the experience and equipment to do the job properly.
Spray Foam Insulation
This is another good option if you have a basement which is already finished. Liquid foam such as Phenolic, Polyisocyanurate, Cementitious or Polyurethane can either be injected, sprayed or poured into cavities. Although it costs more than blanket insulation, it will save you money as it deals with other issues such as vapour barrier, caulking and taping joints. Because of this you’ll save money because you won’t need lots of specialized contractors to come into your home.
So although you might think that basement insulation is not required, you will be glad that you do go ahead and have it done. It will save you money on heating bills plus it prevents damp which will save you a lot of money and headaches in the long run. If it’s attic insulation you are after then many of the things talked about here apply too but not all.