Properly insulating basement walls makes a dwelling more energy efficient than non-insulated buildings. Insulated homes demand a higher price when the owners decide to sell. The truly adventurous can perform the task themselves. For a stress-free production, discuss basement walls insulation with professional contractors.
Look for pre-existing insulation before starting your project. For recently built homes, ask the builder what materials were used. Perform self-inspection on older homes. The United States Department of Energy recommends using the following procedure to determine if insulation has already been applied to your walls:
- Turn off outlet power (Very important)
- Use a screwdriver to remove an outlet cover
- Look to see in any insulation is present in the opening round the outlet box. If there is insulation present, measure the material thickness.
- Remove a small piece of material to determine the insulation type.
Check crawl spaces. In rare cases homes are equipped with exterior insulation that would not be visible during an inspection. Only the home builder can confirm this. After the inspection calculate how much insulation is required. All insulation materials are assigned a heat resistance, or R-value that measures the level of hot air transfer.
Refer to the U.S. Department of Energy website or talk with your local home improvement center to determine with R-values would be most effective. Energy Star divided the United States into five sections and recommended R-value levels for each. Tier one areas, or states with relatively warm and mild climates should use R-values between 13 and 49. In the coldest climates, consider using R values between 25 and 60.
Self-installing insulation on basement walls can be a huge task. Use one of three materials to insulate basement walls: blanket insulation made from fiberglass, rigid foam board or loose fill. Be sure to have the following equipment on hand before starting.
- Safety glasses
- Dust mask
- Old clothing that covers all of your skin
- Stapler with staples
- Extension cord
- Tape measure
- Utility knife
- Optional equipment includes caulk, chalk and noise protection.
Insulation procedures are based on the selected material. Loose fill products are placed within the wall using a special blower. A small hole provides access and is sealed with caulk after the fill has been completed. Blanket insulation and foam board are applied to the external wall and covered with drywall. Because blanket foam must be attached to a wooden frame, many do-it-yourself installers prefer foam boards, which can be directly applied to the basement wall. Purchase all products from home improvement stores. Most locations also have installation equipment available for rent.
Before you decide to self-install basement insulation, there are a few things to consider. For one, insulation products can cause allergic reactions in some people. Skin rashes and upper respiratory illness have occurred when people did not properly protect themselves. To avoid fiberglass contamination the area must be covered with plastic drop cloths. Extensive prep must be completed before the real work has started.
For homeowners looking to outsource the task, consider using the services of a professional to properly perform insulation for basement walls. Professionals know how to insulate basement walls with relative ease. Get estimates from more than one company before writing the check. Use the quotes to get a better rate from your preferred company. Keep in mind that cheaper does not always mean better. Ask about credentials and check with the better business bureau or local business licensing department to determine if a company is reputable.
Price quotes for contractor work include services and materials. Normally, rates brake down to between $63 and $94 per hour. Many companies charge customers a mandatory minimum equal to 1.5 or 2 hours of work. Bonds provide protection in the event of a contract dispute. Installation work costing over $500 should be bonded.
Get guarantees and follow up procedures in writing. Never do business with companies that require entire payment amounts before work has been completed. Find reputable contractors through neighbors, family members and friends who had previous work done. Look in the local phone directory for companies that specialize in insulating basement walls.