A Crawl Space in Need of Insulation

By
Education & Training with House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada

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

  1. the crawl space had a dirt floor,
  2. the walls were not insulated, and
  3. 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

close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Topic:
Home Improvement
Location:
Ontario Ottawa Carleton Ottawa Hintonburg
Groups:
Realtors®
Almost Anything Goes
"Whacked"!!!
Canadian Bacon
WeBlog Anything (almost)!
Tags:
home improvements
crawl space
zingers

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
580,516
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Bea:  It was because of this client that I started carrying a flashlight with me on all visits (or at least have it handy in the car).  I don't want to have spiders crawling on me or cobwebs in the face.   Yuk!!!

Robert:  You would know the basements and crawl spaces that I am talking about.  I now see from these comments that it is not as simple nor as efficient as cutting up some pink batting and sticking it between the joists.  I look forward to your post. 

Steve:  So true and some of our home inspectors on the Rain (such as Robert) are going to give us some instructions or cautions on how to do it right. 

Judy:  Thanks.  Because the client and I had seen two or three of this type of basement, I eventually went in there (through the trap door, some of which were not insulated) to learn. 

Roger:  Imagine!  I am always thrilled to see a gold star beside a post.  It seems I am a bit like Pavlov's dog - trainable to write with the gold star enticing me. 

Jan 08, 2011 09:22 AM #38
Rainmaker
2,346,102
Roger D. Mucci
Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092 - Euclid, OH
Lets shake things up at your home today!

Nothing wrong with that #50..............you write good stuff.  How many Features are you up to now?  I'm still at 16.

Jan 08, 2011 10:29 AM #39
Rainmaker
465,969
Ellen Caruso
Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty - Glen Head, NY

Valerie, I dont care how you insulate them, crawl spaces are still creepy to me!

Jan 08, 2011 11:16 AM #40
Rainmaker
1,028,124
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Many pier and beam homes in Dallas, TX have crawl spaces with dirt floors that could benefit from added insulation.

Jan 08, 2011 03:59 PM #41
Rainmaker
1,304,283
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

You never know what you will find so make preparation to always do a home inspection.

Jan 08, 2011 04:00 PM #42
Rainmaker
111,448
Connie Johns
Transaction Realty - Toledo, OH
Toledo, Ohio Area Real Estate

Chris Olsen #24 makes a very valid point!  A knowledgeable contractor is the key to proper insulation of a crawlspace. Improper insulating of this area has the potential for not only holding moisture to the sill plate, causing possible rot but also for creating an environment for mold growth. Ask an expert before tackling this job

Jan 08, 2011 05:44 PM #43
Rainmaker
580,516
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Roger:  An amazing 32!

Ellen:  We once lived in a split level with a 1/2 basement and a fully insulated and concrete floor crawl space.  It was a perfect place to store stuff and for us (my 2 brothers and me) to play.  Anything with a dirt floor and spiders - no no no.

Cheryl:  For anyone but an expert, I always recommend a home inspector.  ALWAYS.

Connie:  Yes, Chris and a number of other knowledgeable commentators. Excellent poinst and anyone doing this work on their house should have a list of questions to as the contractor BEFORE starting the work.  I hope this post helps them.   

 

Jan 08, 2011 11:55 PM #44
Ambassador
1,222,224
Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

Very true - crawl spaces do make or break the upstairs temps....

Jan 09, 2011 12:23 AM #45
Rainmaker
580,516
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Dagny:  Thanks to the comments, I would now advise a client to seek professional help (ha ha ha) for the basement of course. 

Jan 09, 2011 05:04 AM #46
Rainmaker
579,384
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

Valerie, improving insulation to basements/crawl spaces (especially ones with dirt floors) and attics/roofs are cost effective ways to save energy and money and creating a more comfortable home.

Jan 10, 2011 01:35 AM #47
Rainmaker
580,516
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Chris:  So true and the Ontario hyrdo and natural gas prices are prohibitive so the sooner you have it properly insulated, the better. 

Jan 10, 2011 05:04 AM #48
Rainer
170,724
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Yes Valerie I will be writing that blog on what all the issues are and the choice impacts on other systems for crawlspace insulation, vapour barrier and venting. I have 3 pages of unedited print now that has to be made readable. It may be a few days. I'll posta notification here so thoise interested will not have to search for it.

Cheers, RB

Jan 10, 2011 07:05 AM #49
Rainmaker
580,516
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Robert:  Thank you so much.  I am fascinated with the Home Inspectors' work and look forward to your explanation.

Jan 10, 2011 07:43 AM #50
Rainmaker
678,777
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Insulation alone will not cure the cold floor. That soil may seem dry but should be covered with a vapor barrier. The thinkng now on crawl spaces is to condition them. It eliminates many problems.

Jan 10, 2011 12:55 PM #51
Rainmaker
580,516
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

James:  It was a huge surprise to see a dirt floor in the middle of the city.  I will have to take a look at what conditioning involves as I am sure to be back in that neighbourhood again - and seeing dirt crawl spaces. 

Jan 10, 2011 10:33 PM #52
Rainer
170,724
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

Ok Valerie (and all of the 50 commentators who are interested) my full blog on this subject has been posted today.

For Valerie & friends: It’s cold! What do I do?

You can use this link to get there. If you have technical questions for me please comment there. I'll be monitoring that one as new readers will be there also.

I put a link back to this blog to give credit to the original discussion and so other can find it.

 

Jan 11, 2011 03:18 AM #53
Rainer
170,724
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

James is right, It's also what I covered in my blog. Conditioning the air space or zone simply means that it becomes part of the heated or cooled air systems of the house. It is heated, cooled, filtered and exchanged the same as all the rest of the air in the home.

Jan 11, 2011 03:53 AM #54
Rainmaker
580,516
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Robert:  1) thanks for including the link to your explanation and 2) thanks for defining what James meant by conditioned.  I am now goint to visit and comment on what I expect to be a really informative post. 

Jan 11, 2011 06:04 AM #55
Anonymous
Greg Mitchell

The subject of crawlspace encapsulation has been my livelihood for the past 12 years. SImply put, crawlspaces are not only a hidden health hazard, they can be a massive heat-sink.  In truth, a crawlspace should not be considered anything other than a mini-basement. Trying to insulate between floors with fiberglass will lead to new problems, including mold.  To make a serious, permanent improvement to the crawlspace, all the necessary drainage and waterproofing work needs to be done before the vapor barrier put down.  Sometimes this includes interior draintile, sump pumps, and foundation crack repair.  Solve any water problem first. Then lay down a good vapor barrier, and if you do not concrete the floor, this vapor barrier needs to be sealed with adhesives or tapes and hope it does not become wet and destroy the adhesives.  The better option for the floor is to pump in concrete over the vapor barrier and permanently seal off the ground.  Final step is to insulate the foundation and sill boxes (all vertical surfaces) using spray foam insulation.  Minimum R-15 should be used, whether it is open or closed cell.  Open cell foam can only be used if the walls are poured, and there is no water penetration through the walls.  once this is done, the air is now conditioned using the air supply of the ductwork, the same as a basement.  The conditioned space will be incredibly warm, and rise up evenly through the floors to become more like radiant heat.  I have heard from clients their heating bills drop by up to 50%.  The website Crawlspaces.com is a good source of further information. 

Jan 16, 2011 01:13 AM #56
Rainmaker
580,516
Valerie Zinger
House Proud Ottawa-Ontario-Canada - Ottawa, ON
Home Organizer

Greg:  Thank you so much for the details.  Crawl spaces can be so cold and that is transferred to the floor above.  Imagine saving 50% on today's astronomical heating bill. 

Jan 16, 2011 07:06 AM #57
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?

Rainmaker
580,516

Valerie Zinger

Home Organizer
Wondering where to start?
*
*
*
*
Spam prevention