I live in a split level house with a finished basement that I moved
into back in July. This is our first winter and I noticed it was cold
in the basement and after further investigating discovered that there
was no insulation behind the wood panel walls. So I am in the process
of removing the wood panels, which is fairly easy, and putting
insulation inside the walls between the studs and on the sill plates
between the ceiling joists. I have a storage closet that has no
finished wall inside, it is just the foundation slab. How should I
insulate this? I was thinking of using those styrofoam insulation
boards and glueing them to the foundation. Also my furnace room has
exposed foundation walls. I know I'm not suppose to put anything
flammable near the furnace so is it better off just leaving the
The foam will work. Yes, it will save you some $ in the long run.
As for the furnace room, you must have some clearance from the heater.
Check the manual for that. It cold be anywhere from 12" to 36". You can
use foam insulation, but it must be covered with sheetrock to meet code.
Is basement below grade, if it is are you sure no moisture gets in
through the walls , if it does mold will grow. You can put in vents if
you have forced air and are sure it can take the extra load. Moisture
is a first concern
Pay special attention to the top half as most of the heat loss will be
there, the bottom half is far enough underground that you will not loose
much heat there, the walls will be warmer.
Make sure the insulation is certified for exposed use. It is a safety
issue. Most Styrofoam is highly poisonous when it burns. It must be
covered with drywall for your protection and likely local fire code.
As noted there will be specifications for the furnace. Be sure to
follow them and be extra careful with any foam insulation.
You may need to have someone take a look at the heat distribution (duct)
system and your heating capacity before you have this all corrected. My
guess is the heating equipment was not designed to heat the basement to
living standards, or if it was,. it was poorly done. Only an on site
inspection and some measurements can tell for sure.
No, it is NOT poisonous. It gives off a lot of soot, along with carbon
dioxide and water. While it is not good to inhale soot, there are not toxic
fumes with either Styrofoam (Dow Chemicals trademark for extruded
polystyrene board) or expanded polystyrene board. Other isocyanate foams
may or may not; I'm not familiar with them.
The foam materials approved for insulation are modified so they do not burn
on their own, only when there is another source of ignition. To test this,
break off a piece take it outside, then burn it by holding a lighter or
torch to it. remove the flame and it will go out in a few seconds. (this
is not true of most packaging grade foams)
It must be covered with drywall to meet code thought.
I know you have good intentions, but be sure to check the facts of
insulating foams. There are huge differences in how they react and I'm sure
you want to be accurate.
Seems to be a difference of opinions here. My friend who is a plastic
engineer in the foam business disagrees with you completely on this when I
spoke to him years ago about this very subject.
Check out this government site who sponsored Penn State for research on this
subject. It conflicts with what you post says Ed. Also, the part on HOW the
tests are done is extremely interesting.
wrote in message
Stink does not equate to toxicity. The flame went out too didn't it?
While you would not want to breath in soot, it is not the same as breathing
in poisonous gasses. Too much of your own farts could smother you, but in
moderation, they only stink.
Most of what is stated here is exactly what I said. They are lumping
together a lot of foams here. I was addressing two types of styrene based
boards. I've witnessed some of the testing. Under the right
circumstances, yes, it will burn and give off a lot of soot. I never denied
that. I've also seen where it offered more protection than other wall
coverings that are considered acceptable. When used properly it is
perfectly safe. When not used properly, it can and will burn. As pointed
out in the web page, there are MANY different foams.
Did you remove the flame? Yes, it will burn as long as there is a source of
ignition. When you take away the source, it will go out. Assuming you are
using insulation grade material. I've been doing that test frequently for
the past 35 years on hundreds of batches of material and it has never
Maybe you better update your information. There are serious real issues
with burning Styrofoam.
One source http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/chem00/chem00053.htm says
"1. Polystyrene readily de-polymerizes at "campfire temperatures" giving off
styrene vapor, which may or may not burn. Styrene vapor is toxic. Burning
polystyrene has a characteristic odor which is largely styrene vapor."
A quick search will find many more. Under ideal controled conditions
you may be right, but in real world conditions there are real problems.
When in doubt, error on the side of caution and always follow the code.
Burning anything aside from wood in a campfire is pretty stupid. This does
not address any other issues. Nor do they give much in the way of specifics
"may or may not" ??? Does that mean they really don't know?
Anything MIGHT kill you if the house is on fire. If the house is not on
fire, it is as safe or safer than most of the other material you have. Add
together all the carpeting, upholstery, bedding, wall coverings, and
something in there will surely kill you if it burns. Of it will give you
Very true. I was found to have cancer 35 years ago and I was given a
10% chance of living 5 years. Today after about a dozen new cancer sites, I
am still here. It may get me someday, but I am working on staying ahead. I
avoid the sun and use sun screen. I do the same in my home. If I know
something offers a possible hazard I avoid using it, especially when there
are viable alternatives. I do suggest that you no longer suggest that there
is no danger or to overly minimize the danger.
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