While not the most common foundation type in Ottawa, there are homes with crawl spaces in lieu of full basements. At a recent showing, the Buyer and I noticed that the living room and kitchen floors were really cold, even though the heat was on in the house. This was an indication to us to take a good look in the basement. My Buyer is an architect and very interested in the 'guts' of every home that we see. Basements have become our key areas of investigation.
After opening the trap door and crawling in, it was apparent that
- the crawl space had a dirt floor,
- the walls were not insulated, and
- that, while there was some attempt several years earlier to put a little pink insulation between the joists, it was inadequate.
All of this contributed to the cold in the house. In addition, the heating ducts were not fully wrapped in insulation and they crossed the area. When it is below zero outside, it is very cold in this type of uninsulated basement. On the positive side, there was only a little indication of damp (some efflorescence) and the dirt was dry. The picture in this blog is not the exact basement but very close to what we saw.
Structurally the house seemed solid. For the comfort of the new owner and to reduce energy consumption (to heat the very cold rooms), I advise that additional insulation be added plus vapour barriers where possible. At a minimum, the duct work needed to be protected from the cold.
Photo credit: Darwin repeater work 8-30-2008