Most Effective with Foam Panels
Many older homes have un-insulated basements and this can lead to any number of problems, from moisture damage, leakage and heat or coolant loss. Energy bills can be hundreds of dollars higher with un-insulated basements. There are two options for insulation on an already-built home, the first being excavating around the foundation and insulating the exterior. The second choice is insulating the interior walls – an easier option with a built home.
For basements, panels are the logical choice. Structural insulated panels contain foam. They bring the same benefits blown-in foam does to attic spaces: flexibility in application, high coverage and superior R-values. Panels are impermeable to moisture, a huge consideration in a city like Toronto, with its varied and often damp weather conditions. It also insulates acoustically.
Basement panels with foam content boast superior R-Values. Defined as a material’s ability to resist heat flow, the R-Value number is basically the ratio of a temperature difference across an insulation material and the heat difference per unit area. The higher the number, the greater the coverage. When gauging the effectiveness of panels for basement, spray foam panels are up to 50% more efficient than fiberglass. Fiberglass’s efficiency drops off when confronted with a variety of environment conditions and, in particular, the moisture in the interior air can condense against the cold concrete surface, leading to mold and rot. Loose fill insulation also has drawbacks in that it will settle over time. Spray foam is not affected by mechanical ventilation or wind – or moisture. It does not shrink and its R-Value remains constant.
The Process of Installation
Before installing insulation, verify that the basement wall doesn’t have a water-entry situation. If your basement suffers dampness in spring or after heavy rains, the walls should not be insulated until the problem is solved. It can be as simple as adjusting the grade around your house, so that the soil slopes away from the building, or altering roof gutters and drains.
The best way to insulate an interior basement wall is with foam insulation that adheres or attaches directly to the concrete. Rigid foam, protected by a layer of gypsum drywall, can be attached to walls by foam-compatible adhesive or fasteners. If using spray foam, the best approach is to frame the walls before the foam is sprayed, leaving a gap between the back of the studs and the concrete wall. That gap can later be filled with spray foam, and will expand to cover the space evenly and completely.
Installing basement wall insulation is always cost-effective. It will immediately lower your energy bills and protect you from condensation and mold.
The Best Contractor for the Job
Because of the potential hazards posed by dampness, it is essential to hire a contractor with local experience and, in particular, knowledge of weather and precipitation patterns. The requirements for basement insulation in a multi-weather system city like Toronto are substantially different from a dryer city. Look for customer reviews and check out a company’s website to learn about its level of technical expertise.