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
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
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
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.