With the winter season, heating our home comfortably and efficiently has its challenges. This time of year we turn our attention to basement insulation and development. Typical basement insulation construction has remained unchanged for 50 years or more and currently uses the same method of wood stud, batt insulation, poly and drywall. It doesn’t always pay to use the industry standard method.
A MORE EFFICIENT CHOICE
Quik-Therm, a Canadian company and manufacturer based in Winnipeg, has developed an efficient, healthy and cost-saving basement insulation system for our Canadian climates. Its concrete insulation system (CIS) meets and exceeds current local and national building code requirements for residential concrete basements. This insulation system also meets the new energy code of Canada, currently implemented and enforced in other provinces.
CIS includes insulation, framing, air, vapour, and radon barrier with the benefit of a polymer reflective facing, an all-in-one assembly. CIS consists of pre-made styrofoam corners, studs and panels with a tongue and groove fit and finish. Using styrofoam provides the absence of thermal breaks, and a concrete wall without thermal breaks has a highly-effective insulation value. The three-inch thick panels have an effective wall assembly of R-25.5, versus a typical batt wall of R-20 with a 15.8 factor. This continuous insulation creates a 60 per cent higher insulation value that equates to a warmer basement, higher comfort levels and a cost saving to heat.
FEATURES OF AN INNOVATIVE INSULATION
Using a closed-cell styrofoam insulation system has many benefits to the homeowner. CIS will not absorb moisture, is flood resistant and is inorganic. This means mold and mildew will not thrive in your home, allowing for a healthy indoor living environment for you and your family. Insulation R-values remain constant with this insulation system during the lifetime of the home. This manufacturer has a transferrable warranty from homeowner to homeowner — an industry first in below-grade insulation. Other important features are: no formaldehyde, no off-gassing and no glass fibres. CIS uses up to 15 per cent recycled styrofoam in its manufacturing process.
DIY, RENOVATOR OR NEW HOMEBUILDER?
CIS can be installed by a homeowner, renovator or new homebuilder. The system is user-friendly, and easier to install than wood framing; typical installation is 40 per cent quicker than standard methods currently used. This insulation system comes as a kit for your specific concrete basement shape and height, and includes: eight, nine or 10-ft. panels with corners, studs, and all styrofoam and anchors required for attachment to the concrete wall.
The way basements are insulated in Canada must change. The building code is here to protect us. In this case it is doing the opposite…..
What is the best method for insulating basements? It’s not fibreglass insulation and wood studs; that’s for sure! Then, why do contractors continue to promote it? Because it’s cheap and most building codes still allow it to be used. Not only is batt and studs wrong in basements, it leads to mold, mildew, a cold uncomfortable living environment – and high energy bills.
Most people think insulation is important because it keeps the basement warm in winter, but it’s even more important in the summer, when heat and humidity cause excessive moisture. If a basement is insulated with batt, warm air will penetrate the batt and when it comes in contact with the cold concrete walls behind the insulation it turns to water, frost or ice. Not only do you have a cold living environment and high energy bills, the batt insulation also acts like a blotter; soaking up and retaining the moisture. Because the batt remains damp, it creates the perfect incubator for mold to grow and thrive.
Rigid foam insulation is the best way to insulate basement walls. Rigid foam insulation stops moisture migration and is mold and mildew resistant. Think of a cozy beer or pop cooler. On a hot summer day your drink stays cold, your hand is warm and there is no condensation on the outside of the cooler. The same thing applies with newer toilet tanks that are lined on the inside with expanded polystyrene foam. Because the tank is much warmer than if it wasn’t insulated; condensation does not occur on the outside of the tank.
One more thing! Don’t use wood studs in your basement unless they are mold and water proof. A better alternative are rust resistant galvanized steel or aluminum studs. In basements, any product that reacts adversely to moisture should be avoided; that includes carpet and cushioned underlay, hardwood floors, wood baseboards, etc. It’s really quite simple; if you are considering a product for your basement and it’s capable of soaking up moisture/water, don’t use it.
To renovate your basement and take advantage of added living space in a healthy, energy efficient and cost effective way makes a lot of sense but make sure you use the right materials.
Visit quiktherm.com to learn more about the Quik-Therm Concrete and Basement Insulation System.
Quik-Therm™ Insulation has been involved in several passive and net-zero homes in Edmonton. In basements, Quik-Therm achieves an effective R-40 with an 8” wall depth. Home owners that are concerned about mold, radon or giving up valuable living space should consider Quik-Therm. No wood or fiberglass is used in the Quik-Therm wall assembly, which is ideal for western Canadian basement walls that are prone to condensation, mold and health concerns. Major labor savings are also achieved by combining 4 activities in the initial installation.
Innovative designs also add to energy efficiency by creating a continuous envelope from under-slab to basement to above grade insulation. This design is code compliant in being a radon/vapor barrier and meeting the required effective insulation requirements. Visit www.quiktherm.com for additional details.
Quik-Therm has once again been published in the local newspaper. This time, the Kelowna Courier has done an article on a remediation home that insulated with Quik-Therm Insulation. It is copied below, or the link to the article on the Kelowna Courier’s site can be found by clicking here.
A Better Way to Insulate
December 11, 2014
By Steve MacNaull
Gord Turner scrunches up his nose when he talks about the disgusting state of the house when he first bought it.
“The mould was so bad the house had to be gutted,” said Turner of Gord Turner Renovations.
“The house had also had some floods and when the rodents got into it, well, imagine the worst smell and triple it, quadruple it.”
All that nastiness is now gone and Turner, an award-winning master at transformative renovations, is on his way to reconstructing the house into an energy-efficient, modern dwelling.
His company will rent out the main floor of the house at 1342 Lombardy Square as well as the basement suite.
“This showcases what our company can do,” said Turner, who has won numerous Thompson Okanagan Housing Awards (Tommies) for renovations both big and small.
“We wanted to do it right and make this house nice again.”
A major part of the project is Quik-Therm Insulation on both the exterior walls and the interior basement walls.
“It’s a pretty cool product and this is the test house,” said Turner.
“It’s easy to install and will make the house way more energy efficient than a regular house.”
Quik-Therm was invented by Winnipeg renovator Ted Cullen and now has a Kelowna dealer in Derek Snitynsky.
“The exterior wall insulation, called Connect, is a polystyrene hard foam with a plastic reflective plastic coating made out of the same material they make potato chip bags out of,” said Snitynsky.
“You wrap it around the exterior of the house and it acts as insulation, a moisture barrier and has fastening strips so you can attach the siding.”
The Quik-Therm Concrete Insulation System for basements sees polystyrene hard foam panels lock into high-density foam studs like Lego.
The resulting structure isn’t just insulation, but an air, vapour, radon and radiant barrier all-in-one.
“You just put the drywall over it and it replaces the fibreglass insulation, wood studs and poly moisture barrier that would regularly make up a basement wall,” said Snitynsky.
By Ted Cullen, President
Quik-Therm Insulation Solutions Inc.
The environmental benefits of green buildings are numerous. Green buildings promote and protect ecosystems, improve indoor air quality and conserve natural resources. When compared with conventionally-constructed buildings, green buildings consume 26 percent less energy, cost 13 percent less to maintain, have 27 percent higher occupant satisfaction and produce 33 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. Natural lighting and improved ventilation positively influence the health of occupants. They are less often sick, and far more productive.
A green building can be turned into a net zero building – easily. A net zero building or home is a money making machine. Instead of spending money on it, you earn money with it. Net zero buildings consume little energy and at certain times of the year they return energy back into the electrical grid.
Building green is more than just lower utility bills. Financial incentives from federal, provincial and municipal governments and banks can save or even make you money. Whether you are buying or renovating, check with your financial institution to find out about their “build green” incentives. You can use these incentive dollars to pay down your loan or invest in savings to enhance your financial portfolio.
According to a Green Building survey, 40% of Ontario homebuyers were willing to invest an additional $10,000 for a green home. Green residential and commercial buildings retain higher resale values. Savvy buyers know their utility and maintenance costs will be lower than non-green buildings, consequently they are willing to pay more.
When it comes to building green, the structure’s envelope is priority one. The three basic elements of a building envelope are a weather barrier, air barrier, and thermal barrier. The building envelope; walls, roof and foundation encompass every part of the building. It separates inside conditioned space from the outside elements. The investment in a quality building envelope is a one time investment and constructed properly, it rarely requires maintenance.
Starting with the basement foundation, the building envelope should be viewed the same way you would any financial investment, invest money now to get more back later. A well “weatherized” insulated home will cost a little more up front, but you’ll receive significant savings from lower utility bills. Keep in mind, by choosing a better insulated home, the monthly savings on utilities may match or exceed the added mortgage payment cost. In most cases there is no payback period at all, you are simply diverting your financial responsibilities. For example; say you invest an additional $7,000 in weatherizing (insulating) your building envelope and the investment saves you $40 a month on your utility bills. Based on a 25 year mortgage at 3% the additional monthly mortgage payment would be $33.19; which would equate to saving $6.81 per month on your overall costs. Not only that, your home will provide superior comfort and health benefits and be more valuable when you go to sell it. How much more valuable; up to 9% according to a recent survey. Check with your financial institution and government agencies to see if there are incentives for building green – there usually are. It doesn’t cost more to build green, it pays to build green.
Click Here to learn more about how to design a green home.
The following story was published in the Winnipeg Free Press on November 8, 2014. We have not edited the text but have included additional photos to further illustrate the features and benefits for the Quik-Therm basement insulation system.
Comforting new insulation for basements
By: By David Square
Updated: November 8, 2014
Comforting new insulation for basements
A Winnipeg renovation expert has invented an easy to install insulation system that has the potential to capture a large share of the interior basement market.
Ted Cullen’s Quik-Therm Interior Basement and Concrete Insulation System (CIS) uses high density foam studs that interlock with polystyrene panels to create a wall that acts as an air, vapour, radon and radiant barrier all in one.
The easy to assemble system takes approximately 50 per cent less time to install than traditional stud, batt and poly walls. The integrated polymer parts are also much more efficient and lighter to handle than conventional insulating materials.
“A friend claimed I invented the system because I’m lazy and don’t like to work hard physically,” said Cullen, who has been in the construction and renovation business for many years.
He said it took about three years to design and develop the recently patented system which is eligible for Manitoba Hydro Power Smart financing and grant programs.
The 22-inch wide polystyrene panels are available in two and three-inch thicknesses and eight and 10-foot heights. The panels are covered with a reflective facing that looks like aluminum but is actually a plastic film that bends without cracking or breaking. “It’s the same material that Doritos uses for its chip bags, so it is perfectly safe to install in the home environment,” said Cullen, adding that the mirror-like finish reflects radiant heat back into the basement.
The panels and the studs are connected to each other by a tongue and groove joint. The tongue is on both sides of each stud and the groove is cut into the long edges of each panel. The material can be trimmed to length with a handsaw, builder’s saw or a serrated breadknife. Cullen said the bottom edges of the studs and panels rest on a foam gasket (sold in rolls), that has sufficient elasticity to compress and maintain a tight seal if the basement floor shifts.
He also said CIS walls will not force a main floor to rise if there is minimal upheaval in the perimeter of a basement floor.
To create a sealed panel that runs from the floor gasket to the bottom of the ceiling joists, two studs and a panel are cut to height and a bead of low density foam is sprayed into both grooves of the panel. Studs are added to either side by fitting the tongues into the panel’s grooves. The completed panel can be fastened to the wall with a construction adhesive such as PL300 or concrete nails with homemade washers to prevent them from being driven through the polystyrene.
Renovators or DIYers who own hammer drills can save time by drilling a hole through the middle of the panel, about two feet from the top and bottom, and an inch into the concrete wall. Three-inch or four-inch concrete anchors, depending on the thickness of the panel, are tapped into each hole to secure it to the wall. “Any of these fastening methods works well,” said Cullen, “but I recommend the IDP anchors because they are the quickest way to get the job done.” (A standard-sized basement can be completed in a day by professionals.)
The high density foam studs and corner posts stop heat transfer through framing members, a difficulty encountered in wood and to a greater extent in steel framed walls. “Heat transfer or thermal bridging through studs results in air leakage, moisture, inferior comfort and high energy bills,” said Cullen, who had a thermal imaging expert take shots of the same basement wall, one part covered with wood studs, R-20 batts and 6-mm poly, the other covered with 2-inch thick Quik-Therm CIS. He said the images showed that the wood studs were responsible for a large percentage of heat transfer, resulting in cold areas in the wall where condensed moisture could trigger the growth of mould. Also, the lower area of the wood-framed wall section was colder than the upper areas, creating an uncomfortable heat gradient that caused cold air to gather at floor level and warm air to rise to the basement’s ceiling, resulting in an uncomfortable environment.
By contrast, Cullen said images of the CIS insulated wall indicated overall warmth from top to bottom, with the foam studs being slightly warmer than the insulation itself. Rim joist cavities, difficult to seal with batt-type insulation, can be made air-tight by friction fitting scrap pieces of CIS panels into the spaces and then running a bead of low density spray foam around the perimeter of the scraps, said Cullen, who estimates that the cost to fill each cavity with spray foam would be in the many hundreds of dollars.
Like most forms of insulation, CIS must be covered with a fire-retardant material such as half-inch drywall, which also protects wiring from mechanical damage. “If you touch the drywall in a basement that has been sealed with CIS, it will feel warm to your hand no matter where you touch it. In most cases homeowners are able to close down the heat ducts going into their basement,” said Cullen. Drywall is attached to the 24-inch polymer studs with standard drywall screws. During the three years it took Cullen to have his CIS insulation approved to meet new Canadian building codes, it underwent thermal performance testing to determine its actual effective R-value.
According to the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), “the focus of building code and regulatory officials, professionals and researchers has shifted towards the performance of the entire wall system.” The NRC therefore concludes that “it is not sufficient to characterize the wall by its R-value alone, as was the case in the past.” Research by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), indicated that “the effective R-value of 16-inch on-centre wood frame walls insulated with R-19 fibreglass is R-15.8 or less. Steel stud walls insulated the same way have an effective R-value of R-7. “Cullen said a certified laboratory used a stringent standard test method to determine the effective or steady state R-value of two-inch and three-inch CIS. “Architectural Testing Inc. found that two-inch CIS placed over a 3.5-inch concrete wall and covered with half-inch drywall had an effective R-value of 17.2; three inch CIS was rated at R-25.5,” said Cullen. “This means that the cost savings in energy in CIS insulated basements could be greater than the payments on a Hydro loan,” he said.
Environmental pros for the product are no ozone depleting off-gasses, panels contain as much as 15 per cent recycled expanded polystyrene, plastic T-studs contain 100 per cent recycled plastics, and packing made of up to 80 per cent recycled cardboard. “CIS has no formaldehyde or no glass fibres, no odours, and will not promote mildew or mold, and it does not absorb moisture, thereby reducing damage and expense caused by basement flooding,” said Cullen.
Brock White is the main distributor of CIS in Winnipeg; further information is available on Cullen’s website at www.quiktherm.com.
Renovation & Design
In the winter, the longer we keep heat inside, the less often heat is required. The less heat used, the more money we save. In the summer the opposite occurs; we want to keep cool conditioned air inside and hot air outside. From an environmental perspective, the less energy we use, the less pollution we generate.
In the winter, without insulation, old buildings lose approximately seven times the heat they generate every hour. Utilizing an adequate thickness of high tech Quik-Therm insulation in an old building will reduce its heat loss by more than 50%, or about three heat changes per hour.
Retrofitting old buildings with Quik-Therm insulation saves heating and cooling energy; it saves money and significantly reduces ozone depleting carbon emissions – by 50% or more. It’s that simple.
Around 10 years ago (before the development of the Quik-Therm CIS basement system) I insulated the walls of my basement with a Quik-Therm-like EPS, reflective foil insulation product. While not having all the benefits of the Quik-Therm CIS basement system, such as T & G connections and ready-to-use framing studs, it has done an excellent job of keeping my basement warm and air-tight. Now I have another reason to appreciate my EPS basement insulation; the fact it doesn’t absorb water.
A couple of weeks ago I had a small amount of sewer backup in a, fortunately, unfinished room in my basement. It pooled against the outside wall where there are no studs, only EPS insulation glued to the wall. After cleaning up, I thought about how much worse and more work even this small sewer back-up could have been.
If I had insulated my basement walls the old way by using wooden studs and fiberglass batt insulation, I would have had to remove and replace the messy, sodden fiberglass insulation, and might still be waiting for the wooden studs to dry. However, because I used water resistant EPS insulation, I simply washed the affected walls with a little bleach, turned on my de-humidifier for a day, and voila, everything is dry and there is no odour.
Because of this experience, I will more than ever be encouraging people to use water resistant EPS insulation, like Quik-Therm CIS, in their basements.