Insulation Part 3

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I’ve installed urethane foam insulation in a 5000sf house and was very unhappy with the results of the product. Where ever there was a gap in the wall sheathing it expanded to the out side of the house where we had tarpaper covering the wall sheathing it bulged the tarpaper out about 1 1/2”. The list below will list the pros and the cons of urethane foam.

Pro- R-value is 7 for every inch of foam sprayed.

If you need stability in your structure this foam will stiffen up the wall sheathing. (Like when you use built right it’s a little spongy this will stiffen it up.)

You can get a high R-value in small spaces like on older homes where the roof framing meets the exterior walls where the max. Space is only 3” you still get and R-Value 0f 21.

Now the cons
Had to move a door bell wire home owned changed their location what should have been a 1 minute job ended up being 30 minute and this was repeated several times with different change orders.

Using urethane foam in a 3.5”(2×4) wall cavity has same R- value as Icyene Insulation.

In basement energy walls using urethane foam in a 3.5”(2×4) wall cavity has a total lower R- value that of Icyene Insulation. Using urethane the max. spray depth is 3” with a max. R-21 while the basement energy walls are held away from the foundation wall 1/2-2”giving move room for insulation, making Icyene the winner in this location.

Using urethane the max. spray depth is 3” with a max. R-21 while Icyene Insulation has an R-Value of 6.0 and Icyene can be sprayed full depth of the stud cavity. A 6” stud has and R-Value of 5.5 x 6 = 33 R-Valve.

Urethane insulation is a closed cell insulation which means as the foam is being sprayed it creates bubbles. Inside the bubbles are an oil-based gas locked in these billions of bubbles. If or when the walls of the bubbles break down the gasses will migrate out of the stud cavity.

Foundation-insulation inside or out

The question has been asked is it better insulating the inside or the outside of a concrete wall?
First we’ll look at insulation on the inside wall only. The inside wall has studs 16″ on center with insulation keeping the cold out and the warm air in.

1. You have brought the cool weather into the foundation;
Let me explain; If you have a block, or clay tile wall system air inside block is chilled the cold air drops to the footing no big deal if you live in Nevada to Virginia.

But if you live in New York – Idaho and North we have problems. The cold out side is so cold that it can freeze the footings of the house.

With a poured foundation it takes longer but can still happen.

Freezing the footing is not a problem, the problem comes in when the ground around the footing freezes, now we have a making of a disaster. 90% of the time there is groundwater next to the outside edge of the footing in some cases I’ve seen footings and basement floors sitting in water.

When adding a cold winter to this mix and the ground water freezes around the footing, the water has to expand 10% when it turns to ice, on the inside of the structure is forces the water in to the cement slab and sometimes through the slab on to the floor above.

But the water under the footing has no place to go, so it lifts the house (heaving it) and not evenly breaking the concrete wall cracking sheetrock, plaster, and stucco right up to the roofline.

I’ve seen a shift in trusses like a bulge on a roof, magnifying the problem as it lifts the structure up.

2. Water – IE moisture loves to migrate into concrete. We have seen a commercial building that is a warehouse. When it was built they excavated a sump and filled it with sand compacted it and than built on it.

Now 5-10 years later the concrete walls are flaking paint, and chips of concrete pop off up to 24′ of the wall. What’s happening? The high water table is back in the ground, water can migrate through concrete vertically 28′ from the source of the water.

Remember nature’s rule-water must be allowed to expand, and if it cannot, it will move what ever is in its way to expand 10%.

Know this if you don’t remove the moisture (water) from the footings it will remove paint off of concrete and have popping chips of concrete.

If there is water against your foundation wall when it freezes it will blow the face off the concrete and in a few years there will be major holes in your foundation not only letting more water in but also exotic organisms and creating a mold problem in the structure.

  • Same house and same problems water is present around the footing. This time lets insulate the outside of the wall. What has changed the temperature of the footing it now has no way of freezing therefore it cannot heave.

    I’ve seen numbers of basements with white wavy lines looking like salt on the concrete walls people ask what is it? When this occurs it means 2 things;

    The ground around and under your house is a PH level of (base vs. acid) which is good for some types of vegetation.

    The PH level must be checked for example 1. Battery acid, 2 Lemon juice, 3 Vinegar, 1-5 range acid rain, 6 Milk, 7 -neutral, 6-8 range stream water, 8 Baking soda & sea water, 10 Milk of Magnesia, common name for the chemical compound magnesium hydroxide, Mg(OH ) . The viscous, white, mildly alkaline mixture that is used medicinally as an antacid and laxative is a suspension of approximately 8% magnesium hydroxide in water. 12 Ammonia, Where does ammonia come from? Ponds lakes any type of organic matter (including live animals and live rock), ammonia will result. 13 Lye Where does Lye come from? 1 natural source of lye is ashes of burnt wood.

    This also shows that you have water on the other side of the wall and it is using the inside surface of your basement to evaporate itself into your house with the gases and or other types of chemicals. An average basement of 1000SF can evaporate 50 Gallons of water per day then add water behind the concrete walls of 868 SF. another 43 Gallons of water is trying to migrate into your house making your humidity level in the basement extremely high. This is why your basement smells bad; it’s not your or any to do with your cleaning efforts.

    This water is helping with the growth of mold in your house as well as frost on your windows in the wintertime and to high of humidity in your house, making smell musty.

    This water is helping with the growth of mold in your house as well as frost on your windows in the wintertime and to high of humidity in your house, making smell musty.

  • Insulation – In rim joist cavities

    In old houses that have not been insulated and/or remodeled the rim joists are covered with black mold and some dry rot.

    This condition was and is being caused by no insulation on this area. With no insulation in this rim joist and the warmest air in any area is located at the ceiling. This air also has the most humidity in it.

    When the air migrates across the ceiling to the out side wall 2 thing happen.

  • 1 humidity in the air is condensed on any cold surface, and being the rim with no insulation is the coldest surface, it condenses on it making it damp to actually wet to the touch. Creating a good area cool and damp for bugs, mold, and rot this an incredible ecosystem to be studied in a lab, not in your houses rim joist.
  • The 2nd thing that happens is it starts a thermo train where warm air rushes to the exterior wall, it cools and drops to the floor, then the air migrates across the floor to the center of the house where it’s warmed back up.

    Warm air being lighter than cold air it moved back up to the ceiling and the process starts all over.

    Adding insulation to the rim joist slows down the thermo train. If you install the wrong type of insulation you will cause a lot more mold and rot and invite many different type of bugs to live with you.

    The worst type of insulation is porous type (fiberglass, cellulose, mineral wool etc.) If this type is to be used install a vapor barrier on the warm side of the insulation to keep any humidity from getting into the insulation.

    Vapor barrier can be 6-mill poly — insulate, caulk all surfaces with a polybutylene caulk this stays soft than apply the poly over it and staple the poly in place making a perfect seal. Do this to all rim joist areas.

    Vapor barrier can be foam board — insulate, cut the foam board to fit snug in each rim joist space then caulk all edges of the foam board.

    Another way of getting around the problem is to insulate the rim from the outside. This only works in new construction while building.

    Move the rim joists in 2″ and install a 2″ foam board and then sheath over it. The drawback is you must install solid material where you are going to add a deck or other structural framing.

    Another type of insulation that can be used is Icynene this you can by on E-bay or hire a contractor to have is sprayed into the rim joist cavities.

    This type of insulation will not allow the humidity to pass through it making it great for this type of application.

    Insulation – In stud cavities Part 2

    Having blown in fiberglass or cellulose insulation into stud cavities works great for the first couple of years. But as the heating and cooling cycles go by moisture is allowed to migrate into the stud cavities with cellulose it make hard clumps losing R-value. When the house is shaken with the wind (jets) or ground vibrations (heavy trucks or railroad cars passing by) this vibrates the insulation down leaving hollow pockets of air or no R-value of insulation.

    This will happen at the top of all the walls and under all the windows as well as where wiring is run through the wall, the wiring holds up the insulation from settling
    downward but below the wiring there again is no insulation.

    Using an Open Cell insulation this sprays in place and bonds to the studs wires and wall sheathing locking it in place.
    The only draw back with Open Cell insulation is trying to fish wire into new outlets it’s hard to do.

    While fiberglass is easy just move it to the side pull the wire into place and install your electrical box, O by the way installing wire this way losses all you r-value in that stud cavity by moving the insulation you have created a void on the one side and on the other side you have pushed in to much insulation and have less R-value.

    What is R-Value and what R-Value do I need?

    Insulation is rated in terms of thermal resistance, called R-value, which indicates the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. The R-value of thermal insulation depends on the type of material, its thickness, and density.

    In the case of Icynene these are the facts:
    Thermal Resistance R 3.6/in x thickness of stud
    2×4=12.6 2×6=19.80
    Heat flow reduction through 1.0″ = 72.7%
    Heat flow reduction through 3.5″ = 92.2%
    Heat flow reduction through 5.5″ = 95.0%
    Heat flow reduction through 10.0″ = 97.3%

    What does this mean?
    Example-Look at your living room wall let’s remove a 14″ x 14″ piece of sheetrock & poly on the insides and on the out side let do the same size and location, remove the siding and wall sheathing so on both sides of the wall we can see the insulation.

    Now lets say it’s —2° below 0 and on the inside it’s 7° degrees.

    Standing out side dip your hands into water and place them on the siding just above the hole how long will be able to stand there before your hands freeze?

    Lets do the same with a house made of Icynene Insulation. Again how long before your hands freeze?

    A Fiberglass insulation — Never and instead your hands should be dry in under 6 minutes at —2° below °. Above the hole the temp should be on a calm day about 5°

    A Icynene Insulation- in about 30-40 Seconds major frost burn should start.

    The deference is that fiberglass insulation slows the air movement down inside the stud space while Icynene creates millions of little air pockets but not allowing them to move.

    Fiberglass insulation with out poly and/or wallboard on the in side and wall sheathing on the outside is really a very poor type of insulation in and of it’s self.

    Why is there frost inside my house

    I had a client upset because when she removed a blanket that was lying against the door. The blanket was frozen to the door and when she pulled it away from the door it removed the paint on the door. What actually happened? The door is a solid core wood door with an R-value of 2.47. This means in the winter with the outside temp of -20°F and 65°F inside. The center of the door is 17.5°F and it’s hard to maintain the temp. of 65°F at the surface of the door even with air moving across it. 5/8″ from the inside surface of the door is the freeze point of the door.

    Now lets put a blanket against the door. Next there is no air moving across the door and the blanket is like adding a blanket of insulation on the inside surface of the door.

    The new freeze point is now located at 1 1/2″ into the blanket so when the blanket is now removed the moisture in the blanket has frozen to the door. With this under standing let’s look at your windows.

    A window with Low E II will have an R-value of 3.5 – 3.75 Now let’s add drapes on the windows and people blame the window that it is bad.

    When in fact there are 2 problems 1 no air movement across the surface of the window and the humidity in the house is to high for the exterior temp.

    House wrap what is it?

    In 1972 the Minnesota building code required a building wrap. For many years prior to the code the homebuilders used 15# tarpaper on all the exterior walls. The code required a building wrap installed between the wall sheathing and the exterior finish of the house from brick, stucco, to siding. I’m not sure what date they came out with the new house wrap made with tyvek or a poly sheet. These new house wraps were good for stopping drafts from wind blowing through the walls.

    They designed the material to allow the moisture to pass one way through the tyvek or poly sheet house wrap from the inside of the stud wall cavity to the outside air.

    This works great to remove any moisture in the stud cavities as long as the outside temp. Is above 33°F.

    Below 32°F the moisture turns to frost and freezes to the back side of the tyvek or poly sheet house wrap, when the temp goes above 32°F it thaws to a liquid no longer vapor.

    Now it cannot pass throw the house wrap instead it pools up at each horizontal siding line. This is were the water is new working on both your siding and wall sheathing starting with mold and then rot.

    While tarpaper or rosin paper allows the moisture to pass through to the outside. Tarpaper cannot be used behind vinyl siding because it bonds to the siding.

    The problem is vinyl siding expands and contracts about 1″. When it moves it loosens the and sometimes it removes the siding.

    Attic insulation part 2

    People say Cellulose is great let’s look Cellulose. Cellulose is made from ground-up newspapers and treated with flame retardant chemical. They say it won’t burn but when it does it burns (all thing burn if the temperature gets hot enough) in forms of well like mice trails so if you have a fire over the bedroom of the house. Continue reading