Basement Insulation Explained
As an important part of the way your home functions, basement insulation is something you should know something about. If you don’t know about basement insulation, however, you won’t be able to know if something’s wrong.
This is exactly why it’s so important that you learn the basics of basement insulation. Sure, you might not use a lot of the things you learn about basement insulation, but shouldn’t you get some education if you’re able to? Here’s everything you need to know about basement insulation as a homeowner with an interest in keeping your home safe.
The Different Types of Basement Insulation
Especially if you’ve never done any type of research into basement insulation, there’s a good chance you may not know what basement insulation even looks like. Did you know there are many different types of basement insulation? These are some of the most used styles.
Concrete Block Insulation
There are a few different ways to insulate concrete block basements, both on the inside and on the outside. The method you choose might depend on exactly how much insulation you need, whether you’re going to add other types of insulation, and various other things you’ll have to think about with the help of an expert before you do it.
However, there is a useful method of concrete block insulation that insulates the concrete block from the inside. In this method, you fill the core of the concrete blocks either with liquid foam insulation or loose foam beads. Some newer concrete blocks allow for filling with sheets of rigid foam insulation instead. These are preferable to many other types of concrete block insulation because they tend to stay clean, dry, and active.
Insulating Concrete Forms
What if you want to put insulation inside the wall from the very beginning? Insulating concrete forms are a great choice for this. They’re a style of insulation you may never have thought of before. With this style of insulation, the insulation is inside the wall itself — it goes into the wall before anyone’s even poured the concrete for the wall.
It consists of foam boards that you use as a form for a poured concrete foundation. However, unlike other forms for poured concrete foundations, which you remove after the concrete has cured, this one stays in place. Steel rebar goes inside the foundation to strengthen the poured concrete, and you’ll be able to have basement insulation pre-added into the wall itself.
The best option for already-built homes you’re just looking to finish may be loose-fill insulation. There’s a distinct difference between loose-fill insulation and something like blanket or batt insulation. Loose-fill insulation doesn’t require you to put it up in a beautiful or nice-looking fashion. Instead, you just put it inside your walls and pack it tightly.
The reason this is so great for homes that are already built is that you don’t have to tear out the walls to add insulation. Instead, you can just drill a small hole in the basement wall cavity, then blow the loose-fill insulation into that hole. You’ll usually need to hire someone to do it because the specialized equipment necessary can be difficult to get.
Spray Foam Insulation
If you’re looking for a great way to insulate areas you don’t expect to look at very often, like a basement you won’t be visiting very frequently, spray foam insulation might be the best option. It’s common for people to apply spray foam insulation to areas they don’t plan to cover up, which means the insulation is exposed and visible.
One of the benefits of spray foam insulation is the fact that it effectively covers basically every inch of the area you’re trying to insulate. An expert will spray the foam onto the surface, and within seconds, it’ll expand to cover the entire area. That makes it a super useful opportunity if you want to make sure you have the maximum amount of insulation possible.
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Common Basement Insulation Problems
What can happen to your basement insulation? There are several problems that can make your basement insulation stop working as well as it did when you first started. These might not be all the basement insulation problems, but they’re some of the most common.
Water damage is an extremely common problem with basements. If you have any sort of leak in your basement, it’s very common to experience wet insulation, which can be a significant problem. When basement insulation becomes wet, it essentially loses all its insulating power. That means wet basement insulation won’t really be able to do its job.
Traditional basement insulation tends to be hit especially hard with this. Water damage in traditional basement insulation, like fiberglass insulation, will often spread, which means so much as a single drop of water damage might make an entire wall of the basement essentially not insulated. However, some basement insulation can withstand a bit of water relatively well.
Loss of Structure
A loss of structure occurs when your basement insulation becomes bent out of shape in some way. For example, if your basement insulation gets wet, you might start to see it falling from the ceiling. When it moves its shape and starts to fall from the ceiling, it’s not going to be insulating as well. The same concept holds true no matter what structure a specific basement insulation happens to be losing.
There are many reasons for the loss of structure in basement insulation. Especially if you have an unfinished basement, where the insulation is just open to the air, it’s a good idea to take some time and check the basement insulation every so often. If you see the insulation is bending out of shape or looks like it’s going to fall, contact your local basement experts.
Pests love to eat basement insulation, and they especially love to eat wet basement insulation. These pests can be larger pests like rats or much smaller pests like moths. The common denominator among these pests is that they all really like munching on your basement insulation, which is bad for your insulation.
As soon as you notice pests, it’s important to get an exterminator out to the area so you can avoid extreme pest damage. Pay attention even to smaller indications of pest infestations, like scratching sounds under your home at night. You can never be too careful when it comes to pests that can destroy your hard work in the blink of an eye.
Loss of Function
The loss of function describes a general state of basement insulation. If your basement insulation is experiencing loss of function, it means the insulation no longer insulates. Even though you technically have insulation in the basement, it’s not really doing what you set it up to do. That means your basement insulation is basically useless at this point.
If you’re experiencing loss of function in your basement insulation, you may notice your electric bills going up and that your house has a higher indoor temperature. There are many potential reasons for loss of function in basement insulation, including water damage and poor initial installation. The only way you can really get rid of it is to call an expert and completely reinstall the basement insulation from the bottom up.
The Basement Waterproofing and Sealing Process
One thing that’s good is the fact that the basement waterproofing and sealing process, which is a necessity if you’re going to have properly functioning basement insulation, is consistent. For the most part, you’ll run across four steps in the basement waterproofing and sealing process.
Step 1: Remove Standing Water and Debris
If you currently have standing water or any sort of debris in the basement, you need to get rid of both problems. There are many different reasons standing water might exist in a basement. It’s important for you to uncover the source of the water, drain it out, and find a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Additionally, debris, no matter the source, is a problem, so remove it as soon as possible.
When you’re looking for a way to remove water from the basement, there are a few methods you can choose. It’s common to use a sump pump, either temporarily or permanently. If you only need a sump pump temporarily, you can use one for a short period of time; a permanent sump pump typically goes into your basement floor and works regularly to remove standing water from the area. It is best to couple your sump pump with an interior drainage system like BasementGutter™. The specially designed BasementGutter™ system sits in the sub-floor to collect leaking water from the walls and floor, and this water is then directed to drain into the sump pump system so it can be properly removed from the basement.
Step 2: Avoid All Entrance for Moisture
Any entrance that can possibly introduce moisture into your basement is bad. That includes basement doors to the outside with bad insulation, basement windows with bad insulation, and even inside-facing basement doors that are poorly insulated. You need to make sure you’re avoiding anything that could possibly introduce moisture into the basement, which can cause condensation and other issues.
Basement moisture is a giant problem, and it can even be the reason you’re dealing with destroyed basement insulation in the first place. You need to avoid high-humidity air and condensation, standing water, leaking windows, and anything else that could give an entrance for moisture into the basement space. A JES expert can help you do exactly that.
Along with waterproofing measures like interior drainage and a sump pump, you may want to consider how a basement dehumidifier can benefit your basement and its insulation. An energy-efficient model is your best bet in controlling the amount of moisture and humidity in your basement and home, as well as help improve the overall indoor air quality.
Step 3: Replace Destroyed Insulation
The next step is to replace any insulation that no longer functions because of the water that was in the basement. This could be anything from a very small amount of insulation to essentially the entire basement. The reason this range of options is so large is that it’s hard to predict exactly how basement insulation will react to moisture in the basement area.
If you have exposed insulation in the basement and you experienced a lot of water, like a home flood or a serious plumbing leak, it’s more likely that you’ll need to replace the insulation. If you’re not sure in any way, it’s always better to ask a JES expert. At the very least, you’ll be able to learn what’s wrong in your basement.
Bonus Step: Keep an Eye on the Basement
Keeping an eye on the basement should be something you do regularly. The problem initially occurred for a reason; it didn’t just pop up one day for no reason. It’s important that, as the homeowner, you look down at the basement every so often, even if it’s unfinished.
When you look at your basement regularly, you’ll be more likely to see whenever something’s different because you’ll know what it looks like. Don’t be afraid to look down in your basement every so often to get familiar with it.
What Do You Need to Know About Basement Insulation Problems?
After reading all this information about basement insulation, what should you take away from this article? The basic idea is that a basement is an important part of your home, and you should have some general knowledge about this area and what is protecting it – like insulation. You also should know that a problem in your basement will very quickly turn into a problem in other areas.
Basement insulation is a crucial part of your home; you can’t just neglect to put up insulation in your basement or neglect to maintain it if there’s a problem in the future. If you’re worried you have a basement insulation problem or you need some information about what you can do with your basement insulation right now, consider requesting a free inspection from JES to get information from the experts.