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Home Insulation With Cellulose

April 09, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 140

Cellulose is a wonderful insulation but it needs to be used correctly. Take the basement for example. Insulating it with cellulose would be a very bad idea, because you can not safely install cellulose against your masonry foundation wall.

You need to have:

  • A vapor barrier (VP), so that moisture from the wall will drain to the floor (and under a treated bottom plate of the wall)
  • Impermeable, waterproof insulation (foam) to provide an interface with the cellulose that will not drop to below the dewpoint, very often. A foam insulation such as XPS or isocyanurate (not EPS) with its seams taped will also serve the VP function. It is usually advised that the bottom 6" or so of wall, not even be insulated, in order to encourage drying (or draining) of any moisture that does occur. Without good detailing, even though cellulose contains borates that kill mold, you would still be at risk of mold development in the wood framing.

It would be wise to put out the small extra cost of doing the wall framing in treated lumber (ACQ) to further rot/mold protect it. You can use such detailing in new construction for super insulation, though you don't have to make the whole framing treated (just the bottom plate), due to knowing that the wall is far more likely to stay dry, than the unknown risk level with yours.

You could use isocyanurate as your foam to make a minimum 3/4" air space for the radiant barrier (RB), and fur it out from the masonry basement wall with furring strips, with its foil side facing the masonry. That way it will also serve as a drainage plane.

Insulating your basement walls is not good for summer cooling (an uninsulated basement will be cooled by the ground). If you live in a heat season dominant climate, you must check if it is a worthwhile tradeoff.

You don't need to think about using double foil RB at the air space because it is not worth it. You should think of it this way. The first layer (side) reduces radiant heat transfer by about 90%. A second can only reduce it by 90% of the remaining 10% (9%). Therefore is only a tenth as effective, so is not going to be cost effective. So, just use it on one side (either side) of the air space. It is advisable to just use the isocyanurate, which might not even need furring. Just glue it to the framing and nail it with plastic cap nails. Then set it 3/4" from the basement wall.

If you have a radiant foil barrier on the block wall or some kind of vapor barrier then you do not really need insulation with a radiant barrier. Radiant barriers work really well to reduce a downward transfer of heat, because heat does not readily convect downward, in still air. But, in a vertical configuration, like walls, you still have convective heat transfer, as well as some conduction through the small air space that is needed, in order to reduce convection. The optimal air space will be 9/16-7/8". If the air is still, a normal R-value will be around R 0.91, and with foil on one side would be about R 2.5 better. The dull silver of some isocyanurate will result in a total of about R 2.77. But, if there is any convection the advantage is mostly lost. And, you can get R 5 from a 1/2" of isocyanurate, with no worry about convection. So, radiant barriers, for anything except attics in hot climates, are of questionable value. Understand them, and use them when they are free, but don't go out of your way, expecting them to perform as well as other insulations. If you think they hold magical powers, your thinking is backwards, because indeed they are very mediocre.

In this article we cover some basics, and there is a lot more about solar energy, solar panels  and how to make your home greener on the website.

Source: EzineArticles
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