To insulate basement or not?

Hi, I am in the process of finishing my basesment and I was wondering if insulating a basement helps much. My house is about a year old and it has a poured foundation. My basement seems to stay pretty warm even though it is getting down to 0 degrees overnight. My walls seem to stay pretty warm also. Also, I was wondering if a vapor barrier is needed between the wood studs and the basement wall. Thanks for any help given.
Jason
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You should have insulation along the rim joist (at least 6"), and you should insulate from the top of the foundation down to a couple of feet below grade. This will in fact keep your basement warmer. I used insulation enclosed in plastic (sort of blankets), and I put a studwall around part of the basement. The vapor barrier should face the heated space, but if your foundation leaks it is going to present problems no matter what. In fact, a leaky foundation (or the possibility thereof) is a real argument for not doing anything to cover basement walls. The stuff in blankets is pretty good, water won't penetrate the insulation at least, but if the wall leaks at all you are going to get mold, which would be worse with regular insulation.

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Insulation is always worth the effort. My current home had no insulation over the garage. I put r-19 batts in. Made a difference with the heat.
Check into the blue board at the home centers. Or the foil backed should be pretty impervious to water, your dry wall will not. So if you have leaks fix them first then insulate, wall board and paint. It will look just fabulous when your done
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Along that line, I see in this weekend's Menard's ad, a drywall product designed for basements. It claims to be impregnated with fibreglass, etc and is supposed to handle moisture below grade better. Tom.

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said...

If it's got gypsum in it and a paper face or back it's still mold food. The fiberglass will only help the strength when it gets wet.
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Hi Jason.... First..you should insulate. Although heat losses are figured to only about 4 feet below grade, most cellars are barely able to get this far once the grading on the yard is done. Second....yes, you might need a vapor barrier. Try the old trick of testing you wall for moisture content. Take a sheet of aluminum foil and duct tape it to a clean spot on the wall overnight. Check it the next day to see if any moisture has developed under the foil. Do this with your floor too if you intend to put something over it. You would need a vapor barrier if either shows moisture but I'd be inclined to put it down on the floor anyway. You never know. As for the walls, you can ease your worried by using foam insulation. Water has less of an affect on this than on fiber glass. Hope this helps.
Doug
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Ummm... First you should ensure that your basement doesn't leak. If it does, fix that - _then_ insulate.

This is good advice. If you do a test and it just happens to be an unusually dry period of time, you won't know that your result is valid. After a period with lots of rain etc, may result in dampness permeating the basement anyway.
Personally, I'd never put wood down on a concrete basement surface without a waterproof layer in between. Low cost insurance.
I'd also insulate right to the floor. While the temperature of the soil below the frost line is not extremely low, it is still below a comfortable temperature for the basement and will absorb heat. It's insulation that is less efficient than that working against cold air, but it's also a marginal cost compared to the rest of the work of finishing a basement.
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We built a house next door to our original house. House 1 (original) had a cold basement in the winter. You could go downstairs for quite a while if you wore a sweater. House 2 has 2 inches of pink Dow board insulation around the outside. You can be comfortable downstairs in a short sleeved shirt. If I ever build again I will insulate around the outside again!
Vapor barrier is supposed to go on the heated side of a wall, therefore the vapor barrier should be between the insulation and the drywall. You are using moisture resistant drywall, correct?
-- Mike D.
www.stopassaultnow.org
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I already did the moisture test and dont seem to get any moisture buildup on the floor and walls.If I were to find out that my walls have moisture, does that mean I need a vapor barrier on both sides of insulation? I will go with the insulating and vapor barrier between the instulation and drywall. I just wanted to make sure it made a big difference before I do. Someone told me a while back that the ground acts as insulation so it wasnt really required. And my basement does stay pretty warm, even in the unfinished state. Thanks for the help
Jason

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On Tue, 27 Jan 2004 09:57:54 -0500, "Jason"

Jason,
Theoretically, the concrete walls below grade stay at 55 degrees Fahrenheit .
Code for insulation here (Calgary, Alberta where it is minus 30 celsius this morning) is R 20 above grade, R-12 below grade.
No to vapour barrier on both sides of the insulation. Code here is for moisture barrier from floor up to four feet or grade level, whichever is least. Significant moisture problems are repaired from the outside.
If you have forced air heating with registers and cold air return at ceiling level, drop the cold air return to floor level. That's the cheapest, fastest way to improve heat circulation .. it makes a noticeable difference.
Ken
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