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Detail Library

Basement Insulation Retrofit. 2-in. Interior Rigid Foam and Flat 2×4 Wall

The toughest details are those that have to match up with someone else's work, or those done — even done well — when energy was really cheap. These details are a collection of some common — and tough — dovetails of existing work with retrofits or additions. Bear in mind that green remodeling means creating a new operating regime that is better, not worse, than the one that may well have been working just fine before. Integration of energy efficiency, moisture management, and indoor air quality is much more important and challenging in remodeling than in new construction.

Air sealing is imperative. The connection between concrete foundations and wood framing is a place prone to air leaks and moisture problems. Wood is often warped, and concrete is rarely flat. There are at least three places for air to leak in and probably a lot more. Leaky connections can mean energy, moisture, comfort, and IAQ problems. Extending the wall sheathing past these connections is a good first step whenever practical. Caulks, adhesives, spray foam, and gaskets can seal them up tightly.

Unless you live in the desert, the ground is always wet; and that ground water is always pushing its way in. Footing drains can carry away bulk groundwater, but foundations also have to disrupt capillarity. Water in the soil will wick all the way up to the roof framing if you let it. Capillary breaks such as brush-on damp-proofing, sill sealer, and rigid insulation block this process. A foundation is a bad place to cut corners because problems are expensive and complicated to fix after a house is finished.

Existing foundation walls (and basement floors) are sometimes wet, usually damp, and seldom dry. Rarely do they have perimeter drainage systems, capillary breaks between masonry and wood (or soil) or insulation.…

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