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  1. #1
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    Jun 2008
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    Red face Insulating the basement ceiling

    I live in a 8 year old contemporary Ranch home in Maine, I have FHWBB heat from oil fuel. The basement is unfinished, and probably never will make it into a finished living space, so I am thinking of insulating the floor above or the ceiling of the basement to keep the house warmer and burn less oil

    Does insulating the basement ceiling save significant energy cost, or is it better to just insulate the heating pipes?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Insulating the basement ceiling

    Does insulating the basement ceiling save significant energy cost, or is it better to just insulate the heating pipes?
    Logically it makes sense to insulate the heating pipes so as not to loose it's heat to the surrounding air.

    In my opinion insulating the basement ceiling has little benefit since warm air rises it will benefit the level above.
    One area that would be more critical ensuring insulation is the perimeter rim joist. This will greatly reduce heat loss or cold infiltration to the floors near the walls.

    I'm uncertain as to the building code in your area ... being that your house is relatively new ( 8 years old) are the basement walls insulated?
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Insulating the basement ceiling

    Hi! the I have just had some advice from a heating guy and he believes that insulating the basement ceiling is a lost cause. But he did advise that adding insulation in the gap where the sill meets the concrete foundation helps a lot. And sealing with caulking compound also particularly where the basement access is.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Insulating the basement ceiling

    Hi! Some advice i'm passing on, since i'm looking into that, too.

    Our house has wooden floors and the cellar is dirt floor. One guy (who i believe) said that if you were to insulate the ceilings of the basement, it would create two zones, where no heat would be going to the basement (our house has no heat in the basement). This would cause the pipes to freeze in our mid-west winters.

    He suggested insulating the top part of our basement walls (concrete blocks above the fieldstone - we may do spray-foam), closing the windows and running a dehumidifier. The basement wouldn't get as cold, and we keep the pipes from freezing and the need to heat the basement.

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
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    Question Re: Insulating the basement ceiling

    I am new at this & yes I have a bungalow that is 1915 & good shape. Do I understand you that it would not help? Thanks mike from des Moines Iowa renchturn@mchsi.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Insulating the basement ceiling

    Quote Originally Posted by mm135 View Post
    Hi! Some advice i'm passing on, since i'm looking into that, too.

    Our house has wooden floors and the cellar is dirt floor. One guy (who i believe) said that if you were to insulate the ceilings of the basement, it would create two zones, where no heat would be going to the basement (our house has no heat in the basement). This would cause the pipes to freeze in our mid-west winters.

    He suggested insulating the top part of our basement walls (concrete blocks above the fieldstone - we may do spray-foam), closing the windows and running a dehumidifier. The basement wouldn't get as cold, and we keep the pipes from
    freezing and the need to heat the basement.

    Hope this helps.
    I think there is some confusion here.


    Since warm air rises as well the radiant and conductive components of the heat from the upper level wouldn't really make it's way down to the basement anyway.

    Putting insulation in the ceiling of the basement won't do much to prevent the upper level from heating the basement.

    Since warm air rises the heat from the basement would aid in warming the floor above .... putting insulation in the ceiling of the basement would prevent whatever rising warm air in the basement to escape to floor above.

    For a concern of freezing pipes would mean your basement temperature would be in the range of 32 degrees or lower.

    So yes if you leave your basement windows open during the winter when it's freezing out would make it cold in that area.

    The logical and simple thing would be to close the windows during the winter.

    The areas where the house sits on the foundation ... the sill and rim joists ... are a source of cold infiltration. This area should be sealed from cold drafts as well as insulated to prevent cold transfer.

    Generally speaking an unheated below ground basement will maintain a temperature above freezing on it's own .... add the heat from the boiler or furnace which will also benefit.

    If the walls of an unheated basement were insulated will definitely raise and maintain a reasonable temperature without any need to insulate the ceiling.

    Hope this helps.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Insulating the basement ceiling

    Quote Originally Posted by canuk View Post
    I think there is some confusion here.


    Since warm air rises as well the radiant and conductive components of the heat from the upper level wouldn't really make it's way down to the basement anyway.

    Putting insulation in the ceiling of the basement won't do much to prevent the upper level from heating the basement.

    Since warm air rises the heat from the basement would aid in warming the floor above .... putting insulation in the ceiling of the basement would prevent whatever rising warm air in the basement to escape to floor above.

    For a concern of freezing pipes would mean your basement temperature would be in the range of 32 degrees or lower.

    So yes if you leave your basement windows open during the winter when it's freezing out would make it cold in that area.

    The logical and simple thing would be to close the windows during the winter.

    The areas where the house sits on the foundation ... the sill and rim joists ... are a source of cold infiltration. This area should be sealed from cold drafts as well as insulated to prevent cold transfer.

    Generally speaking an unheated below ground basement will maintain a temperature above freezing on it's own .... add the heat from the boiler or furnace which will also benefit.

    If the walls of an unheated basement were insulated will definitely raise and maintain a reasonable temperature without any need to insulate the ceiling.

    Hope this helps.
    - - - - - - - - -

    Thanks...

    Regarding the logical and simple thing re: closing the windows in the basement in the winter - someone on this forum or another suggested keeping the windows open a crack since we have a dirt floor basement and exposed wood floors on the cellar ceiling. He said that the humidity would cause the wood to warp - our floors are slightly warped. Last winter, the windows were just rolling in condensation in the until i cracked a small opening in the window. So if we closed the windows, would you think its necessary to run a dehumidifier?

    Also - what is your opinion on insulating the ceiling? The first level floors are FREEZING in the winter - even with cellar windows shut, its about upper 40's' or a bit colder when its below freezing outside. I think it would make sense - since we have some holes (really, you can see the basement from the floors in the office!). Or maybe i should just put some wood-patching stuff?

    I figured if we insulate the floors, the cellar would be even colder, since the floors absorb some warmth and radiate it, radiating some to the ceiling in the cellar, keeping the pipes just a little more warmer. (Of course, the same insulator said how insulating the ceiling would cause two zones and the pipes may freeze, however, he also said that the basement should stay around 55' if you insulate the top part of the cellar walls that are exposed to the outside and no need to do the ceiling).

    Anyway, we may just not insulate the ceiling - instead we just may replace some windows instead (we have some really bad ones!)

    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Default Re: Insulating the basement ceiling

    Even though you may not have heat runs open in the basement, your basement is still unintentionally conditioned having combusiton appliances there, with heat runs and the flue pipes radiating heat. You must also be careful if you seal this area off that the volume of the basement that houses the combustion appliances (also known as the combustion appliance zone, or CAZ)has enough air to supply the units to burn properly. I would not recommend insulating the floor, but it you do, install unfaced fiberglass or slash the paper to allow it to breath, or you could end up with moisture/condensation problems. Same goes for interior walls.

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