Insulating Old Brick Two Story House

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Old 02-12-03, 06:00 PM
rickrailrd
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Insulating Old Brick Two Story House

I have just purchased a 1916 two story brick house. What should I expect the exterior walls will consist of, besides brick? Is it just brick and plaster on the interior or might there be something else in there? What options might I have for insulation of these walls? I am thinking that I may have to put up stud walls with insulation to get any kind of insulating value.

I want to finish a portion of the basement for use as an office. My plan here is to use 2x4 stud walls and fiberglas insulation, and raise the level of the floor off of the concrete a couple of inches as protection against minor flooding should a water line break etc. What should I use as a vapor barrier on the inside of the block wall before putting up the 2x4 walls?

Thanks

Rick
 
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Old 02-12-03, 10:57 PM
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Earthen Materials

Brick and wood naturally resists heat flow, though not as well as insulation. One of the reasons why brick was so favored than wood structures in the past is that not only was is attractive and more expensive, it also made the home more comfortable because of the thermal characteristics with brick. Brick just like wood absorbs moisture, in fact it can absorb more moisture than wood. If you ever seen brick that is painted and the paint is peeling or popping of the brick, it is doing that because of this characteristic of brick to absorb moisture. Certain paints prohibit the drying out natural process of the bricks. Adding insulation can also have an adverse affect on brick. With brick veneer walls a dead air space is provided between the wall and the brick for this reason. I would advise against insulating a brick wall for those reasons. If you decide that you want to insulate because of the heat loss and discomfort, then I would advise that you also install this dead air space between the insulation and the brick.

The bricks in your foundation wall (basement) are different than the bricks that are used above grade. If you have a moisture problem in the basement, then you must first address the moisture problem before you can finish the basement. For the floor, there are system you can buy that allow water to flow to sump pumps and/or french drains. They are made of plastic and have channels or passage ways underneath them to allow water to flow. They also allow the masonry to breathe and prohibit moisture from being trappped underneath them. If you search the web for them, you'll find a variety of companies that sell them.
 
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