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Old 09-29-2011, 11:18 AM   #21
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Oh...and I received the spec sheet on the foam he is using.

It is Insular closed cell High Performance....11-016..

Core Density ASTM 1622 - 2.0 pcf
Compressive Strenth - 27 psi
Moisture Vapor Transmission = 1.3 perm;in
Closed Cell Content - greater than 90%
R Value @ inch = 6.8
ASTM @3.5 inch = 23.4
Air Permeance - Infiltration 0.000 cfm/ft squared @1.57psf
Exfiltration - same
Bacterial and Fungal Growth - Negligible* 11-016 is formulated with an anti-microbial
STC = 31** as measured in a 2 X 4 studwall assembly
OITC = 24**
Flammabililty = Flame Spread less than or equal to 25
Max Service Temp = 180 degrees F
Water Penetration
AATCC 127-1998 @ 56 feet

11-016 is suitable for use in the NCFI InsulStar insulation system as well as other insulation applications. It is certified for application in Type I, II, III, IV and V buildings and is approved for ABAA projects. Complies with ASTM c1029 and AC277.

It is formulated with HFC-245fa as the blowing agent and contains an anti-microbial ingredient to inhibit the growth of molds.
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Old 09-30-2011, 08:03 AM   #22
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Oh...and I received the spec sheet on the foam he is using.
It is Insular closed cell High Performance....11-016..
I'm not familiar with that product and couldn't find it with a quick search. Is it a sheet foam product, and what is it made of? Based on the specs I think it is an unfaced extruded polystyrene ("XPS") or possibly a polyisocyanate product. Either is fine for this application, though I'd prefer a product that includes borate to help prevent termite/carpenter ant boring (they don't eat the stuff, they just burrow through it on the way to your house).

Questions for the contractor:
- How does he plan to deal with moisture transpiration through the concrete crawlspace walls? The whole reason you are doing this project is to reduce moisture in your crawlspace, and bare concrete will transfer gallons of water each day from the ground into your crawlspace by evaporation. 2" of the foam he's using could (in theory) be acceptable in reducing water vapor transmission (less than 1 perm total), but that relies on an almost vapor-tight seal around every panel edge to the wall, something that's not likely in the real world. It might work if he applies a solid bead around every board edge AND either caulks between the boards or tapes all seams with foil tape. Hopefully he has other plans. That water that gets in during the summer has to be removed by your AC, and that costs money.

- Insulation of the mud sill/rim joist, etc: how will he do this? There are two acceptable ways:
-- Use spray foam, apply 2" of it in several passes. Takes about a minute total for each bay, produces reliably good results.
-- Caulk all seams in each stud bay and below the mud sill, cut rigid foam to fit (allowing for wires, pipes, etc), used adhesive to stick foam in place, apply foam sealant (or "Great Stuff" etc) around the edge of the foam. Do this for each bay. This is a fine DIY solution for use while standing in a well-lit basement with good access. It's not a good approach when you are paying a contractor and he's crunched up in a dark crawlspace.
If the contractor says he'll "put some fiberglass insulation up there" then find a new contractor. That approach will work in the desert, not in a wet place like VA.

- How does his approach address the threat of termites? Termite inspectors depend on two main tools to see if you've got termites making their way from the ground to your juicy wooden house: They look for the telltale mud tunnels on the surface and they jab a pick or screwdriver into the mud sill and joists to see if the termites are already there. When we cover the walls with foam boards and put spray foam in the stud bays, we have made the job of the termite inspector tougher. That's why I strongly recommend using a penetrating borate treatment for all the wood touching and near the concrete, and a surface treatment of the concrete itself, before applying any foam. A lot of this needs to be sprayed on the wood--a light mist won't do it-- but it soaks through and the bugs can't eat it. This won't make the termite inspector's job any easier, but it reduces (significantly) the chance of a subterranean termite problem in the first place. You might want to talk to your local termite inspectors regarding their suggestions for improving ease of inspection. The metal termite flashing I mentioned earlier is a common approach. Of course, what's easiest for them (no insulation in the crawlspace to hamper their inspection) isn't going to work for you, so get right past that to other options.

Good luck!
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Old 09-30-2011, 09:02 AM   #23
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I think the first reference was a typo, go to this link, looks like it's a spray foam, not rigid:

http://www.insulstar.com/uploads/Ins...ch_11-5-10.pdf
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Old 09-30-2011, 03:03 PM   #24
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Last week I had a HVAC system installed in the crawl space of my vacation house (20 years with only a wood stove for heat). The installer placed a condensation tray with pump to remove the condensation to the outside that will result due to running an AC. You might want to check and see if your air handler has a condsention tray and pump. If yes, is it working. My installer said they often can give problems. Also, ensure the R value is adequate around the duct work and all joints on the insulation are sealed. Next week I am going to apply 2" rigid insulation (foil back) to the main trunk on both the supply and return air side and seal all joints with aluminum tape. I have already insulated the round laterals with fiberglass insulation.
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Old 09-30-2011, 03:28 PM   #25
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Thanks SamClem...printed this off too. Started a word document detailing the specs that I want included...based on everyones input.
Dimsumkid....you are right. That was a typo! It is Insulstar.
Packrat44....I have a pan...and a drain pipe. I know at one point the pipe did not have enough fall to it but we solved that problem a while ago. I should double check this. More insulation around the duct work might help....but ...not sure to what degree. Humidity here is very high....during summer months and even into September...early October.

I contacted another company...and have a free inspection/recommendation next Wednesday. I figure I can't learn too much about this ....before taking the step.

I asked the first company about Radon. His response " Well...do you have a Radon problem now?".
My response...."No...but my crawl space is not sealed up either."
Also a little concerned....that he just wants to come in and "build" the condition crawl space in a day without much emphasis on mold or termite prevention.
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Old 09-30-2011, 03:46 PM   #26
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I think the first reference was a typo, go to this link, looks like it's a spray foam, not rigid:

http://www.insulstar.com/uploads/Ins...ch_11-5-10.pdf
Ahh, thanks. It looks like it may need to have a coating (Aldocoat 757) to meet fire codes, and that the termite question (detailing required, inspection strips, etc) depend on local codes and if the home is in an areea where the "probability of infestation is 'very heavy'"". Otherwise, from what I've read in a few places the product itself is a reputable one. It will all boil down to the details and the installers.

Oh, if applied over 1.5" thick the Insulstar should do a sufficient job of stopping water vapor infiltration through the walls, you won't need anything else to stop the water vapor. At 1.5" it will still be a little short on insulating capability (about R-10) compared to the walls in modern homes. I'd shoot for a bit more if you can afford the price. And ask him if he'll apply the Boracare with Moldcare (or similar) penetrating borate product to the wood two days before he does the spray. He shouldn't charge you much for this--it's a few trips around the edge, thoroughly dousing everything with a garden-type pump sprayer. The materials will cost about $200 for a house like yours.
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Old 10-05-2011, 07:11 PM   #27
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I just spent over 4 hours with a representative from JES - Baement-Crawlspace-Foundation Repair Specialists. They are mostly in Virginia but are part of a national dealer network for Basement Systems. There are 450 dealers nationwide so perhaps you guys have heard of them. I called them in to learn more and because I was not confident the other guy was going to do a good job. This company seems to know what they are talking about and have engineers on board. However, they really do not address the mold saying the mold will die when the humidity to brought down and stays down consistently. A bit surprised because I called them in to do a "conditioned space and they recommended a semi-conditioned space with dehumidifiers.....saying that is what they always recommend and in fact, this guy says he has only done one real conditioned space in 3 years.
Their quote for this semi-conditioned space.....was sky high and a whopping...$18,812 for 2,163 feet of crawl space.
This is what they were going to do..
1. Remove all debris including that old air conditioning unit
2. Remove insulation - quoted at $1.00 a square foot
3. Install 20 mil Cleanspace Encapsulation System that is guaranteed for 25 years. If it is torn or messed up for any reason they fix it for free.
4. Install 2 inch Silverglow insulation on walls, caulk, seal all openings
5. Install vent covers with gaskets
6. Install 2 sealed crawl doors
7. 2 Sanidry Dehumidifiers with condensation pans and pipe thru foundation
These units were quoted at $1,800 a piece
The company was founded in 1993. Anyone know anything about Basement Systems and their dealers?
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Old 10-05-2011, 07:17 PM   #28
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........ Anyone know anything about Basement Systems and their dealers?
I think you should hire Samclem - he's probably do it for $15,000
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Old 10-05-2011, 07:48 PM   #29
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The company was founded in 1993. Anyone know anything about Basement Systems and their dealers?
No, but that doesn't mean anything, they could be great. If you're at all tempted to go with these guys, check them out with BBB and (especially) Angie's List (it's well worth the membership if you aren't a member now).

That's a lot of moola.

There doesn't appear to be anything techncally wrong with their approach--reducing the crawlspace humidity will stop the mold problem. They just want to install dedicated dehumidifiers to remove the moisture rather than relying on the dehumidifier you already own (your home's air conditioner). Their approach will certainly work. The question is whether you want to pay the high buck installation and the ongoing costs for those dehumidifiers (electricity, maintenance, etc).

Why are they recommending removal of the insulation below the floor? Is it to prevent the freeze-up of their dehumidifiers in the winter? Those dehumidifiers are going to add heat to your crawlspace in the summer, so if you remove the insulation your home's cooling cost will increase.

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I think you should hire Samclem - he's probably do it for $15,000
Hmm. Let's see. My Pat Pend formula for estimating the time to do a home repair or improvement:
Estimate the time it will take ("E")
Double "E" and square the result
The answer (Actual Time to Complete Job, "A") is given in the next higher unit of time.

SO, to do the crawlspace the way I described earlier, I think it would take about a week. "E" = 1 week
(2E)^2 = 4. and weeks-->months. So, 4 months will be needed to actually do the work. That's includes all the normal trips to the ER, all the trips to the hardware store, all the unanticipated additional fix-it jobs that need to be done "while I'm right here" etc. Maybe $15K isn't enough . . .
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Old 10-05-2011, 09:26 PM   #30
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If you're looking at $19k in costs, maybe you'd be better off considering a poured in concrete floor. I don't know the cost, but it seems that will correct many of the issues you're having now.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:19 PM   #31
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Travelover, SamClem and Dimusimkid...thanks for your replies. It is a Lot of moola. So much so that I could go with the other guys' quote of around 4,700 and do it almost 5 times! Huge margin for error I'd say. That said, I will check them out with the BBB.

This guy was good at what he does and he almost had me a couple of times during the 4 /12 hour inspection and sales pitch. But I don't make hasty decisions unless I'm sure.

The thing that confused me is that I specifically called them in for a "conditioned crawl space" and all he pitched was a semi conditioned one with dehumidifiers. He told me a conditioned space is exorbitantly expensive and he has had only 1 client insist on it. This was before he quoted me the almost $19K. Can't imagine what his version of the conditioned space would have been.

So...I need to think a bit. But am still thinking some good plastic, seal the walls, seal the vents, route some air from my own HVAC system is a good start.

SamClem...I still have questions about the vents necessary for a conditioned space.
Some say it is not as if my crawl has to be exactly like my house and that all I need is enough air down there to create a bit of positive pressure.
This guy today was telling me I'd probably have to replace my HVAC systems to heat and cool an additional 2,000 square feet of crawl.
My brother in law says the former...which is just enough to create a positive pressure.
City code has guidelines for conditioned air space which is 1 cubic foot per minute for each 50 square feet. What is the best way to make sure this is what I get and that it is done correctly?
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:35 PM   #32
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If you're looking at $19k in costs, maybe you'd be better off considering a poured in concrete floor. I don't know the cost, but it seems that will correct many of the issues you're having now.
It would seem so. For reference, here in N IL, we get heat/humidity as bad as the OP, but just not for as long. My basement has no special insulation, and is fairly 'leaky'. Yet, two standard in and out vents in the ducts are enough to reduce the humidity in there on the most humid days ( we get some 90/90's here). In fact, during a warm spell, one of my "should I turn on the A/C?" decision points is if the humidity is rising in the basement.

Maybe I should close off the intake vent, and attempt to create a slight positive pressure? That would seem to make sense - any air being drawn in is hot, humid, and could condense upon hitting the cooler space. I'll try that next year.

It doesn't seem to take that much air flow from the A/C to keep it dry enough. Unless your A/C is currently right on the edge, I'd think it could handle the slight extra load. Even if you had to upgrade, sounds cheaper than two(!) $1800(!) humidifiers. Or does this space need to be dehumidified during non-A/C season? Here in N IL, the non A/C season is not so humid, outside of rainy days.

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Old 10-05-2011, 10:41 PM   #33
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SamClem...I still have questions about the vents necessary for a conditioned space.
Some say it is not as if my crawl has to be exactly like my house and that all I need is enough air down there to create a bit of positive pressure.
This guy today was telling me I'd probably have to replace my HVAC systems to heat and cool an additional 2,000 square feet of crawl.
My brother in law says the former...which is just enough to create a positive pressure.
City code has guidelines for conditioned air space which is 1 cubic foot per minute for each 50 square feet. What is the best way to make sure this is what I get and that it is done correctly?
Luckily, the amount of venting needed for the crawlspace can be easily accomodated--those supply ducts that are sweating now can just be tapped and registers put in (do it on the main trunk, not on outlying branches so you don't end up with insufficient cooling to some rooms.). The return air from the crawlspace can either go directly into a return air duct (if it's easily available) or you could add an opening that leads back to the main building envelope--and thence to the return air grill in your house. I don't know why the guy would suggest you might need a bigger AC unit. AC units aren't (or shouldn't be) sized according to the cubic feet of the house, they should be sized according to the house's overall expected heat gain (a so-called Manual J computation). Right now heat leaks through the floor of the house in the summer. If you insulate the crawlspace walls to an appropriate R-value, the total heat loss will be less than you're experiencing now through your floor. In addition, moisture is now entering your home through the floor (you can bet that the paper vapor barrier on your present fiberglass insulation probably isn't in great shape). All that moisture coming in puts a load on your AC system that won't be there once this crawlspace is sealed up.

I really think they want to sell you those dehumidifiers and a Cadillac insulation job.

How much AC air will need to be exchanged with the crawlspace to keep it dry? Well, if it's sealed up correctly against water vapor, it should be about as tight as the rest of your home. And if it gets the same air circulation as the rest of your home (air changes per hour) and the rest of your house isn't moldy, neither will the crawlspace be moldy. From a practical perspective, you could start there. For the first year I'd probably buy a hygrometer and measure the RH down there. In the summer, strat with the registers wide open (the crawlspace will be coolest relative to the house, and driest), then progressively close them until the RH down there only rarely gets above about 65-70%.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:56 PM   #34
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This guy today was telling me I'd probably have to replace my HVAC systems to heat and cool an additional 2,000 square feet of crawl.
I think this guy is right, this is like adding a big 2000 sq. ft. addition onto your house. You'd have to consider all the additional costs with heating/cooling or new equipment this will add on. I guess I don't see the point of putting heat and AC down there, since this was meant for keeping people comfortable. The AC does 2 things - cools and dehumidifies, you only need the latter. I can see doing all the vapor barriers and insulation, but I'd prefer just dehumidification. I wonder why you can't just get two 50 - 60 pint units (or bigger) from the hardware stores that sell for around $200-300 each. Set them up in the space and route the water thru plastic tubing to a drain or outside? The ongoing costs are for dehumidifying only.

I run a 40 pt dehumidifier on auto control in my basement all year round to help reduce the moisture in the air.
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:57 PM   #35
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If I were doing it, I would take a completely different approach. Assuming that the ductwork in the crawlspace is sheet metal, I would clean up the connections with a solvent, then seal all the connections 100% with the HVAC mastic or UL-324a tape. Then I would carefully insulate every inch of duct with the fiberglass duct insulation pads that have the heavy plastic vapor barrier on them. It comes on a big roll and is about 4 feet wide or so. One edge has a flap that gets taped over the edge of the next piece to get a complete seal. It has to be taped together with the proper tape, or else it will peel off over time. Can not tape over kinks or mismatches in the jacket edges, needs to be flat on both sides of where the tape will go to get a good seal.

The ductwork has to be 100% sealed BEFORE the insulation is put on, or else air leaking from the ductwork will migrate through the insulation to the outer jacket, and condense there. And the outer jacket needs to be sealed very well at all the joints to prevent outside air getting into the insulation, and condensing.

To get proper insulation coverage, you have to be able to get your hands around all of the horizontal ducts, so if they are up against floor joists, then some duct rework is needed to lower them to get access above them, and to make sure that the insulation will not get compressed against a joist, which would lower the R-value.

I then would put 6 mil plastic down on the ground, tape all seams with the 2 or 3" wide polyethylene tape, and lap the plastic at least 6" up the foundation walls.

And I would keep all the foundation vents open in the summer.
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Old 10-06-2011, 08:32 AM   #36
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I think this guy is right, this is like adding a big 2000 sq. ft. addition onto your house. You'd have to consider all the additional costs with heating/cooling or new equipment this will add on. I guess I don't see the point of putting heat and AC down there, since this was meant for keeping people comfortable. The AC does 2 things - cools and dehumidifies, you only need the latter. I can see doing all the vapor barriers and insulation, but I'd prefer just dehumidification. I wonder why you can't just get two 50 - 60 pint units (or bigger) from the hardware stores that sell for around $200-300 each. Set them up in the space and route the water thru plastic tubing to a drain or outside? The ongoing costs are for dehumidifying only.

I run a 40 pt dehumidifier on auto control in my basement all year round to help reduce the moisture in the air.
It may be 2000 sq ft, but it's certainly not the same as adding a 2000 sq ft addition. I believe the OP said the crawlspace is 42" high. Most of my rooms are a little bit taller. And that's actually a really tall crawlspace. I wonder if he was measuring to the bottom of the stus or the top. If there's insulation between the studs the cubic footage could be even smaller.
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Old 10-06-2011, 08:46 AM   #37
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It may be 2000 sq ft, but it's certainly not the same as adding a 2000 sq ft addition. I believe the OP said the crawlspace is 42" high. Most of my rooms are a little bit taller. And that's actually a really tall crawlspace. I wonder if he was measuring to the bottom of the stus or the top. If there's insulation between the studs the cubic footage could be even smaller.
Right, but even then, strictly speaking, the cubic feet of the house has nothing to do with the size of the AC unit needed. The size of the AC unit depends only on the amount of heat the house gains on the hottest days (and the amount of water that must be removed, but that's seldom actually calculated). For example, let's say his floor is 2000 sq feet and insulated to R13. That's where the heat is being transferred now. If his crawlspace walls are 1000 sq feet in area (for example) and that becomes the new building envelop, and if they are insulated to R13, then he'll be gaining far less heat than he was before, and the AC unit can be smaller. Plus, with the better vapor sealing his AC unit will be dealing with less moisture than it does today. (All this ignores the heat lost to the floor of the crawlspace, which tends to be very minor)
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Old 10-06-2011, 09:00 AM   #38
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I'm starting to agree with Telly. The complaint is excessive condensation in the crawlspace ducts. For far less than $19K, you could have those ducts sealed tightly and insulated well, then throw a sheet of plastic over the dirt floor to minimize ground moisture entering the conditioned space.
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Old 10-06-2011, 09:10 AM   #39
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I'm starting to agree with Telly. The complaint is excessive condensation in the crawlspace ducts.
The condensation is a symptom of the excess moisture. You need to get rid of the moisutre to avoid mold and/or musty nasty stuff.

Plastic sheet alone is probably not enough in his area. I think you need to get some dry air down there. I like the idea of slight pressurization of the dehumidified air from the A/C, assuming that is running often enough to do the job.

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Old 10-06-2011, 09:26 AM   #40
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The condensation is a symptom of the excess moisture. You need to get rid of the moisutre to avoid mold and/or musty nasty stuff.

Plastic sheet alone is probably not enough in his area. I think you need to get some dry air down there. I like the idea of slight pressurization of the dehumidified air from the A/C, assuming that is running often enough to do the job.

-ERD50

Here's an issue that AC won't address. Right now, the temperature is in the 50-60's and in the mornings, the humidity reaches 80+%, you're definitely not running the house AC and probably not even heat. If you do run the heat for a small amount of time, but may not on long enough to reduce the humidity (and do you have a humidifier built on the heater, most do). I know the issue brought up was for the hot summer months, but you get high humidity readings in spring and fall. I wouldn't be surprised in winter too.
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