Insulation in already finished basement

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Old 01-15-15, 07:56 AM
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Insulation in already finished basement

Hi,

Purchased a house a few months ago with a fully finished basement. Drywall installed on all sides. Carpet on floor in the main part of the basement. Finished bathroom has tile floor.

Closet area on one side of the basement houses the gas boiler, hot water heater, and AC unit. The foundation wall is exposed in this closet area and gives some access behind the drywall installed about 1'-1.5' from the foundation wall. There is another closet at the back of the basement which gives some access behind the drywall installed at the back of the house.

From what I can tell at the water shut-off panel at the front of the house, the front has soft insulation in at least part of the space. No access to the area behind the drywall on one side of the house. The rear and other side do not have any insulation in place.

We use the basement as a guest room. OK in the summer, but gets cold in the winter. My also be affecting temperature on first/second floors of house since the staircase leading to the first floor is open (no door). I was wondering what my options are for insulation. It's my understanding that it's good to have some space between the drywall and foundation wall for air circulation in case of moisture. We had some efflorescence before that I've taken care of, so don't want to risk covering up the foundation wall and having mold grow due to moisture. Would be nice to make the space a bit more comfortable. Thanks in advance!

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Old 01-15-15, 08:45 AM
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No door is a big problem - I have to keep the door closed to my basement to even out the temps between floors.

What do you have for heat vents and returns down there?
 
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Old 01-15-15, 08:54 AM
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No heating in the basement. We have a gas boiler for baseboard radiators on the 1st and 2nd floors. Because it's small copper piping leading up to the second floor, we don't have any hot/warm pipes in the basement to help heat the space.
 
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Old 01-15-15, 08:55 AM
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No heat down there and no door?

No way.
 
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Old 01-15-15, 09:02 AM
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Yep, unfortunately that's the way it is. The stairway is open up to the first floor and there isn't really a way to add a door at the bottom. You can see from the photo that the right part of the stairway is open to the basement space. So unless we build in a wall with a door at the bottom, there will be no door for the foreseeable future.

The space actually isn't that cold, which I guess means the house is "insulated" on the sides by the adjoining homes (it's a row home). But the temperature difference relative to the first floor is definitely felt when you go down there. Any ideas?
 
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Old 01-15-15, 01:12 PM
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Your open stairway is a giant return downward. The floor under the carpeting is cool, which adds to the problem. Since there is not heat in the lower level.

Unfortunately, your heating system relies on passive air flow. A forced air system could overcome the problem, but you do not have that option.

You could add a door, but that would be next to worthless with no heat supply on that level. The temperature would gravitate to about the same temperature of you soil that surround and is under your basement.

Adding a new zone (if possible with your current heating plant) with a separate/zone control similar to what you have upstairs could supply the necessary heat for when you use the basement. Your heating system is very not quick to heat up a basement because of the thermal mass storage. Adding insulation to get a higher "R" value will do little since the fictitious "R" value is actually a measure of the heat loss over a time period and without an heat source to insulate.

I have a similar heating and cooling situation (2 story with an open stairway/cold air return), but I have forced air and maintain a 1 to 2 degree difference and use the fan for uniformity/comfort even though my lower level has an oversize sliding door facing north.

Dick
 
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Old 01-16-15, 07:27 AM
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Thanks for the response Dick. I'll have to look into adding a new zone in the basement. Not sure how much it would help if all the heat would just go up to the first floor. But I guess it would be better than the current situation. Thanks again.
 
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Old 01-16-15, 08:10 AM
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Yes, the lack of a door on the basement is a problem but without a source of heat in the basement you have no chance in the first place.
 
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Old 01-16-15, 08:21 AM
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Space heater in bathroom w/auto shutoff for safety, electric blanket on the bed, big fuzzy slippers.
 
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Old 01-23-15, 08:28 AM
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We actually had family visit us this past weekend and they stayed in the basement. Used a small space heater with a built-in fan and it heat up the entire space within 15 minutes. I may just stick with this solution unless more is needed in the future, since heating is only important if people stay down there in the winter - which doesn't happen too often. Thanks again to all!
 
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