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Follow-up to foam panel question


edbreyer's Avatar
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07-25-03, 11:08 AM   #1  
edbreyer
Follow-up to foam panel question

Thanks for the info - it is all very useful. But, I am still hoping to find out if termites bore through foam insulation in search of wood easier then they would through fiberglass batting. If so I don't want to use foam panels to insulate the interior stud cavities of my new basement walls. Maybe fiberglass would be better - but if I ever get seepage - won't fiberglass batting stay damp indefinately?

 
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07-25-03, 03:56 PM   #2  
It maybe true that the rate of absorbancy between foam panels verses fiberglass batt insulation is greater which would infer that the foam panels would dry out faster. It does not mean that in this application concerning seepage or a moisture problem either one would be better. The insulation regardless of which kind you chose would not be the source of the problem nor the solution. Even as a preventive or mitigative measure it is unlikely that it could accomplish what your intent is. Seepage or a moisture problem should be addressed before finishing off a basement wall. In preparation for a possible future moisture problem the best course of action is taken from inside and outside the structure. Such as basement wall water-proofing on the inside and improved water drainage on the outside of the basement wall.

Termites and other wood destroying insects are pervasive and live in the ground. Moisture is a contributing factor whenever they are present within the structure. So keeping the structure dry and the surrounding area if the first step in the prevention of damage caused by wood destroying insects. The second step is regular inspection of the structure, especially where they are usually found. The most severe damage ever witness by me were homes that had finished basements and sheet rock was installed in the ceiling instead of a drop ceiling. This prevented visual inspection of the wood members on top of the basement wall. The result was the infestation was not noticed until there was substantial damage to the structure. The final step, once the infestation is identified, is treatment and continued inspection.

In the prevention and/or treatment of wood destroying insects, insulation does not play a factor. It would if the insulation was improperly installed which caused a moisture problem. However in this case it is not the insulation that caused the problem, it is the way it is installed.

 
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07-28-03, 07:39 AM   #3  
edbreyer
Thanks Resercon - & follow up Question...

Your point about the drop ceiling confirmed my previous leaning towards a drop ceiling versus drywall. Thanks! As for moisture issues - we are fortunate that we have no moisture issue - the termites made it in last time (before we owned the house) because when the house was moved to it's present location in the mid 1960's - a wall of what should have been temporary stud bracing was allowed to be embedded in the concrete - while resting on the soil. Eventually termites in the area found the wood and ate their way into the structure. Fortunately, they were discovered and eliminated before too much damage was done - And I have since retreated with Termidor and am replacing all wooden partition studs with steel during this basement remodel as added insurance.

My question about the insulation is based upon two things: 1) A foggy recollection that termites find foam panels inviting pathways - but now I'm wondering if it was carpenter ants I heard about. 2) Should we ever get an inch or two of water in the basement (e.g. failed sump pump) and the insulation gets wet - which is the better choice? I'm using dura rock for the first two feet of wall so that and the steel studs should hold up pretty well but if figerglass insulation will stay forever wet then I'd have to tear out the walls anyway.

Thoughts?

 
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07-28-03, 11:12 AM   #4  
All materials have a rate of absorption and expulsion towards moisture, regardless if it is steel, dura rock or fiberglass. Glass have a very low absorbancy rate and a very high expulsion rate towards moisture. This idea that fiberglass insulation would trap water inside it probably comes from a glass container of water. If there was a crack in the container at the bottom the container would lose all the water. Fiberglass insulation is highly unlikely to retain water. The only way fiberglass insulation could retain water is if the materials surrounding the insulation prohibited the water from leaving the insulation. In fact fiberglass has a lower moisture content than either steel and the dura rock.

In wall construction as you are describing in the event of water being trapped inside the insulation because of a possible flood, the steel studs because they form a "U" shape for the insulation to be inserted and the dura rock attached to the steel studs would play a much larger factor or the contributing factors why water got trapped inside the insulation. In other words, take away the steel studs and dura rock and the water will not get trapped inside the insulation.

What further supports my position is glass does not rust or effloresce which would mean that glass has a faster expulsion rate towards moisture than steel or cement. This also concludes that the moisture content inside glass is considerably less than steel or cement.

As fas as foam panels or fiberglass insulation providing easy pathways for wood destroying insects, so does cement basement walls and concrete blocks. The only reasonable preventive measures for wood destroying insect damage are regular inspection and moisture control.

You may have been misled about foam panel by what is known as STRESSED-SKINNED INSULATED PANELS (SIP's). This method of home construction is two OSB panels sandwhich foam for form a 4 feet by 10 feet panel that is structual. In other words no studs, top or sole plates are used to transfer live or dead loads, the SIP's do it. These panels are commonly used for the exterior walls and roof of the structure. Several years ago a notable organization researched on these types of structures and came out with a report concerning termites. The pervasive nature of wood destroying insects inside the SIP's diminished its structual ability. I know of only one case where the home was condemned, where structual collapse was eminent. I must point out though that there was clear signs that the insect infestation was present and that if the homeowner did a regular inspection of the structure, he could have avoided such severe damage to his home. For your information the homeowner sued the manufacturer and the manufacturer settled out of court.

The problem with reports such as these is that the reporter inadvertently applies this is all foam panels. I can assure you that there is a big difference between a SIP and the foam panel you might decide to use in your basement project. As far as which one would be better the fiberglass or foam panel, I believe them to be equal in you application.

 
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07-29-03, 09:36 AM   #5  
edbreyer
Thanks once again Resercon!

Very thorough reply -Thanks!

I have come to the conclusion that I'll use fiberglass insulation - because I find it easier to work with than foam panels - which never seem to fit snugly for me.

I think I'll also skip the durarock and just use drywall on all wall areas. If I get an unexpected flood - I'll just deal with it. Plenty of people (e.g. those sick or dying) would love to have flood damage as their biggest problem. So I'll just continue to base my material decisions on good info (like what you've provided) and not worry so much. Of course anual inspections for termite activity and moisture are a must!

 
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