A crawl space is the distinguishing feature of olden homes and the ones that are designed as per antique architecture. It is a type of basement that requires you to crawl in and out of, quite literally. They are built for an easy storage of unused household stuff, structures like pipes and wiring, and housing substructures. Hence, although is not used as a living space, a crawl space is always a useful feature of a dwelling. Since the height is not more than a foot or so, one cannot stand up in a crawl space. This fact creates a lot of problems regarding their maintenance and cleaning. If the crawl spaces are exposed to the outer environment, then it also creates problems for storing household stuff there. For instance, water seeping in from the outer walls and moisture stacking. Excess of moisture and infrequent cleaning of the crawl space causes manifestation of harmful elements like mildew, mold, rot and decay. Such a place can also be a secret hideout of various termites, rodents and reptiles; that may destroy the wiring and piping structures and create a major safety issue for you and your family. All these things are also evident if you end up choosing the wrong crawl space insulation like cardboard boxes or drywall. It is the reason why choosing the best insulation for a crawl space is a major issue, that we will be discussing here.
Options and Considerations
There are a lot of factors that you may need to consider while choosing the best option for insulating a crawl space. These things include, construction type of your dwelling, and building codes and regulations formed by your local governing bodies, and your local climate or geographic location. Most of the time, crawl spaces are unventilated, and hence, choosing the best insulating material gets a bit tricky. Determination of R-value of insulation is also a crucial process. R-value is the measure of choosing the best suitable insulation material. In other words, insulation materials are chosen on the basis of their R-value, rather than their thickness. The greater the R-value, the better is your insulating material, and its cost too! Now, in order to choose the most energy efficient and cost-effective option of insulation of the crawl spaces, you have a quite a lot of options to consider. Choosing the best of them all, finally depends on your budget, and the type of crawl space of your house.
Liquid Foam: Icynene liquid foam is by far one of the most convenient options for insulating crawl spaces that are strictly unventilated. If your crawl space is ventilated, then you should not use liquid foam, since it brings in moisture which is not suitable for liquid foam. Secondly, liquid foam is only ideal when the flooring above your crawl space is not previously insulated. Icynene liquid foam is highly resistant to water and vapor. However, this insulating material needs prior permission from the local governing body for its legal installation. Make sure that you are choosing foam with a good R-value certification, and get it installed by professionals.
Foam Boards: Foam boards made of rigid foam, polyurethane, polystyrene and vermiculite pellets, etc., can also be used. Ideally, foam boards are appropriate for crawl spaces and unfinished foundation walls. Such material has a high insulating value, that offers great protection from moisture stacking and higher energy saving convenience. Foam boards come in a relatively less thickness than the regular insulation materials, but they do have a good R-value.
Fiber Batts: Fiber batt insulation is also called blanket batt insulation. This type of crawl space insulation is made by using various insulating materials like mineral wool, natural fibers, plastic fibers or fiberglass. If you ask the experts, they would recommend fiber batt insulation for DIY insulation projects. If you are new to such home improvements and are looking for a relatively safer insulating option, then fiber batts may be ideal for you. However, just make sure that the fiber batts are installed on a plain surface, and those surfaces that do not have many obstructions.
Insulating Concrete Forms: As the name suggests, insulating concrete forms or ICFs are installed during the construction phase of a dwelling. In other words, insulating concrete forms are installed in the foundation walls and they are present inside the walls, which makes them an excellent option for energy saving, and moisture stacking. Since ICFs are installed inside the walls, they are safe from mold and mildew, as well as household rodents. So, if you are planning to build a home with a crawl space, then you may consider using insulating concrete forms.
There are three basic ways of installing the aforementioned crawl space insulation to crawl space walls. They include, exterior foam installation, interior foam installation, and interior butt installation. Amongst which, the ideal technique needs to be selected as per the type of crawl space and overall insulation of the dwelling. As a parting note, I would like to mention that insulating a particular part of a house is a risky issue, which involves a lot of health and safety precautions. Hence, if you aren’t aware of its basics, then it is always better to seek help from the professionals in this field.
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