Waterproofing and Insulating Exterior Basement Walls
March 13, 2017
One of the most prevalent problems in any house is a damp basement. Beyond the uncomfortable environment, damp basements can potentially lead to mold, as well as structural damages. In the majority of situations, this is work best left to the professionals - there's a good deal of building science involved, and therefore problem-solving requires some specific expertise and experience. Where possible, the best solution for a damp basement is to insulate the walls from the exterior. This will virtually eliminate the accumulation of water vapour in the basement. Also, air leakage will be blocked, and insulating performance will be enhanced. While there may be ancillary work involved in waterproofing the basement walls, the insulation will make a major contribution. Because most basements are below grade, the walls present unique challenges when it comes to air movement and moisture collection. In most homes, the challenges are evident both in summer and winter. This is precisely why basement insulation must ensure the maximum in airtightness. Anything short undermines the potential to block air leakage and prevent air moisture. Professional installers agree that spray foam is the best application for foundation walls in the basement. Beyond the excellent insulating performance, this product significantly lowers the risk of moisture accumulation. The installed R-Value of the finished application is unrivalled amongst other products, and the capacity to control air moisture is hard to match product-to-product. For the homeowner, properly damp proofing and insulating the basement provides a number of benefits. To begin with, home comfort is dramatically improved from season to season. As well, energy efficiency is enhanced because the HVAC system is better balanced. And finally, energy usage is reduced, resulting in less costly utility bills for winter heating and summer cooling. Like the attic and roof, basement insulation is best managed professionally. Insulation experts understand which products will work best, and which installation approach will deliver the best return-on-investment. With a comprehensive approach, professional installers will address both thermal insulation and air moisture at one time - a key consideration in the basement space. For the average homeowner, insulating the basement is more than just an esthetic improvement. A well-insulated basement provides energy savings around the year - so much so that the annual savings will offset the original project cost in a few short years. Indeed, homes with foundation walls that are insulated beyond the norm actually have re-sale values also above the norm. In some situations, homeowners may be enticed by the DIY option for insulating a basement. In terms of saving money in the short term, this may prove viable. However in the long term, damp proofing and insulating the foundation walls is definitely worth doing professionally. The project outcomes will be much better, and the overall benefits will be more comprehensive. With basement insulation, it's about creating a "system" that's based on the principles of building science. This exactly why a professional approach is preferred - in order to address the problem areas, and provide appropriate solutions.