Insulating crawl space that has pipes


Old 01-04-05, 11:45 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 5
Insulating crawl space that has pipes

I have a 40 year old split level home in the suburbs of Chicago. There is a crawl space that runs the entire length of the house-it sits under the living room and kitchen. In the winter these two rooms are by far the coldest of the house. The crawl space floor is dirt but is covered with plastic and loose gravel. I was going to put insulation under these floors, but after reading other posts I am not sure if this is the best idea. I have the cable lines, the gas line to the stove, and the heating vent under the crawl space. Which would be more beneficial to me, to insulate the walls or underneath the floors? I have 3/4 sub-basement (which is the family room) that butts up to one of the walls of the crawl space. The other three walls are all underground.
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Old 01-04-05, 05:49 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 1,873
Heat Sink

Means anything that can drain heat from a house. Verses Thermal Mass is something that can absorb and retain heat.

Thermal Boundary is the surface of an area that you want to retain heat from an area you do not want the heat to go.

There is a great deal of information on the web. And after seeing many posters refer to sites supporting their comments, I believe it is time for me to say something on this issue. A Hypothesis is best known as an educated guess. Within an industry, it is referred to as conjecture. Thesis is a formal proposition that is advanced and defended through argumentation. Within an industry, it is referred to as substantiated information.

Under the Reagan Administration policy of streamlining government, many of the processes government used to protect consumers were eliminated. A perfect example of its usefulness is the quick approval of the drug AZT for AIDS. A bad example would be Vioxx and Sick Building Syndrome. In the field of energy conservation there are presently two major sources that influence National, State and Local Energy Codes. They are the Building Science Organizations (BSO's) and Laboratories. BSO's are the ones that produce the Hypothesis and the Labs produce the Thesis. Though the BSO's have experiments and other data, it is there to support their Hypothesis, educated guess or conjecture. Far too often these papers are being interpretted as being valid applications. Labs, like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, take the Hypothesis and proves or disproves it through years of experimentation and analysis. At that point they stand before a panel of their peers and defend their position before it becomes a valid application. The data to support their position usually comes in volumes.

I do not want to detract or say anything derogoratory about BSO's. Besides the fact that I know quite a few people in these organizations, they are by far extremely dedicated to their profession. And in my opinion their reputations are beyond reproach. It is also my opinion that their work, creativeness and innovation has, is and will advance energy conservation throughout the world. My only concern here is how these papers are being interpretted by lay people.

I would like to apologize for the lecture but I am becoming more and more concerned by what people are reading on the web. The insulating of crawl space walls to provide warm floors and/or prevent freezing pipes has been around for some time. It was also found to eliminate chronic moisture problems in crawl spaces. In energy conservation this type of application is known as a Trade Off. In other words, the benefits obtained from this application exceed the benefits from conserving energy.

The reason for this is because the ground is a heat sink. No matter how much heat you send into the crawl space, the ground will not go above 55 degrees during the winter months.

We all understand that if we are not using rooms in the house, by closing those rooms off from the rest of the house lowers our heating bills. The same is true that the larger one's house is, the more it cost to heat. If this is true, then heating the crawl space is adding to the size of the house that is being heated.

The school I come from recommends insulating the ceiling of the crawl space. The new school energy conservationists recommend insulating the walls of the crawl space. Yes, there are energy conservationists that argue for this application. Personally, I don't even listen or read what they have to say. Perhaps I am wrong, but I can't see how they can overcome the heat sink and volume factors.

The cables/wires cannot freeze and gas can freeze provided that it condenses, which only occurs in drip pipes. I doubt very much if the person who installed the gas pipes in the crawl space installed a drip pipe in the crawl space. The pipes people are most concerned with freezing are water pipes and there are a variety of methods to avoid those pipes from freezing.
Old 01-04-05, 06:12 PM
Ed Imeduc's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Mountain Williams Missouri
Posts: 18,389

Ill go the other way from resercon. But not as long. In all the years we have reworked crawl space that had the floor with insulation up in them . That we have taken out and insulate the wall and seal it up. Going back to the homes they have told us that the fuel cost for the same home dropped after the rework. Been doing it this way for over 30 years.
check this www out.
Now like said the gas line there if its Nat wont freeze.But if you had LP it could get cold there and not freeze but turn back to liquid down there and lock the line up.

My .02 cents

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