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strider3700 11-13-10 01:02 AM

My basement and cold closet project
It's been over a month since I started on this project (much to my wifes unhappiness) and I'm going to push hard to be done to the point of paint by Sunday, after that I'm not overly concerned if it ever gets finished.

The initial project started way back in September when I harvest about 150 lbs of potatoes from the back garden and had nowhere to put them. After a little thought we decided to build a cold closet in the North West corner of the basement. It would be roughly 5'x3' wedged between a basement window and the basement door. Here is what I started with. Note the potato bins already built and ready to go.

After emptying everything out my first step was to remove the paneling from the wall. I figured there would be no vapor barrier since the house was built in the early 60's and I wanted to add one in that area.
Also while in there I wanted to insulate the outer wall where the floor joists butted up to it. My daughters room is above there and quite cold in winter. As you can see There was zero insulation to the outside there.

So I pulled the paneling off and saw that the insulation behind was not what we would consider good these days. You can also see in this picture two pipes that go outside. This corner used to have the oil tank for the furnace, that is the fill and the vent tubing. Both poured cold in during the winters.

AS you can see insects had been living/dying in the insulation and it had mostly collapsed.

I even found an ancient wasps nest about the size of an apple

At that point I was going back to the studs. This was one of the better holes that had no insulation in it. I also found that their was 1/8" down the side of the door with no caulking on it that the breeze moved through nicely.

And here we are back to nothing and ready to start building

strider3700 11-13-10 01:29 AM

The first thing I did was cut and install the vent holes for the cold cellar. They are just 4" dryer vents.

next I cut and foamed in 2" rigid between the joists. I also foamed and caulked all of the gaps I could find between the foundation and framing, around the vents, around the electrical box, the extra hole to outside from one of the old pipes, in those bigger gaps...

And then I applied R14 rockwool Both in the wall and in the roof above the cold room area. Instantly the room felt a bit warmer. I also jammed some in the vents since they were pouring cold air in.

After this my documenting skills went straight to hell and photo's stopped until I moved onto the next part of the project. Basically here's what I did.

I polyed the outside walls. Then I framed up a room in the corner. Due to the drain pipe running through there the room is free standing with the top 1/2" below that drain pipe. A 36" door from the reuse it center was purchased and then I bought some wood and built a frame and hung the door.

The walls were constructed of 2x4 to maximize space inside the room and it was all insulated with R14 rockwool. The roof is the same. Poly was applied on the warm side of the walls and then taped into the existing poly sealing the box. The floor place was pinned to the concrete and caulk was applied both on the inside and out to seal it up. Inside I used 3/8" plywood on the part I built and some old cedar left by the previous owner on the exterior walls. Over all it's quite air tight and thanks to the indoor outdoor thermometer I know that it has been dropping down to about 12 C at night when it's roughly 4 C outside and it climbs back up a degree or two a day if the door stays closed. I added a dryer vent to the bottom which is supposed to get air circulating and help get that hot air out but I just seems to make that initial drop faster. I will be adding a fan to the upper exhaust vent to see if I can get it down at night.

Anyways here is what it looked like as of this morning

And inside. I still need to build shelves...

It is in use obviously. The beer is kept cold enough to drink but not something you'd be happy getting from a bar. More like end of the day last beer in the mostly water filled cooler type cool then cold. I'm really hoping some power venting will get it down to outside temp nightly.

I'd also like to put some insulation down on the floor. Maybe just 1" rigid. It took a few days but the concrete floor around the cold cellar is noticably colder to the touch. The same for the concrete wall around the back but that will be dealt with soon.

strider3700 11-13-10 01:56 AM

The next step is obviously to put something on the outside to finish it. We're going paneling since it's far quicker then finishing drywall, less messy, matches the rest of the basement and when painted my wife likes the look saying it's cottage like.

So since I needed to do that I decided I'd insulate the back wall with the windows and do it all in one shot.

So I once again took the trim off the window and pulled the paneling.
This is what I was greeted with.

What you are seeing is
- under the window no insulation, I guess the space wasn't large enough to be worth it...

- on the left you'll see my sprayfoam from when I was in there doing the cold closet. On the top and the bottom of the window you'll see why a proper installation of a replace window is important.

The house originally had aluminum single pane windows. When the previous owners had them upgraded to vinyl they picked a decent midrange window but whoever installed them did an awful job. They removed the old glass but left the outside frame in place. They did this because the outside upper window frames go right up to the stucco and it isn't an easy job to get them out. So the new vinyl was sized to fit inside the old frames. They slipped them in, put some screws in place without using any shims and then stuffed some fiberglass in. The gap was covered with trim and that was it. No caulking inside or out.

Here is a closeup of the bottom

The tar paper is what they used to handle moisture back in the day. It's effective but if you're starting over use blueskin.

Above that is a gap to the outside about 1/8" it's caulked out there because the original window installers weren't morons.

Above that is the aluminum frame acting as a great heat absorber transfering it to the outside. This was at the same temperature as outside and within a couple of minutes of me removing the paneling the condensation you see in the picture started to form.

Above that is a gap to the outside roughly 1/4" here but on the sides and top it's closer to an inch. This is filled with fiberglass. The outside is covered by the vinyl of the window so you don't actually see the aluminum when looking straight at the window. From the top/bottom/side you can see it though.

Then above that is the new vinyl window held in place by 6 screws, 2 in each side and 2 in the top. The bottom just sits on the old frame in places.

The best way to fix this is to remove the window remove the old frame install a new properly sized window correctly and continue on. The other option is replace the aluminum frame with a wood frame the same size then reinstall the vinyl windows in that. The first takes a crap load of time and money, the second just lots of time so I'll be taking option number 3 - try to bodge it into something not horrible via sprayfoam and caulking.

I continued pulling things apart and found insulation in the wall between the two windows. Nothing special, The other window is installed the same way.

The idea to seal this wall up is pretty simple. first spray foam those windows in really good. since there are no shims the foam will act as the strength holding them in. I will make sure that 100% of the aluminum is covered to help stop it from becoming a water magnet. After the windows are sealed I'll put rigid foam in the joists boxes similar to what I did with the cold closet.

Next a 2x4 stub wall will be built out on the edge of the foundation so that it's face is flush with the concrete. Poly will go over the top of this and attach to the rigid in the joists.

The gap between the joists will be filled with rockwool out to just beyond the stub wall. Any remaining rockwool will be placed in the stub wall just to use it up. 1 1/2" rigid will then go on the concrete and the wood frame and the poly will be taped to it. Add some wood to the rigid to attach paneling then trim out the windows making sure to wrap the edges either with poly or rigid to seal that up Add the paneling some trim and we're done for now. Some electrical will go into the stub wall while I'm at it. So that is the plan for tomorrow. I'll make sure to take more pictures while I'm at it.

Daox 11-13-10 07:30 AM

Nice project. I guess its good and bad you found the bad stuff. At least now you know whats there and can do something about it.

Are you going to keep going around the basement walls and fix it all?

strider3700 11-13-10 10:13 AM

this part of the basement and right behind the wash and dryer is the only part not "finished" The rest has drywall over the concrete then steps back and up the wall. Eventually yes I'll try to do the entire thing but that could be a few years. There is also the bathroom and the toilet is too close to the outer wall to insulate behind.

We're talking about a complete replacement of it relocating the plumbing at the same time so maybe.

It sucks that the windows were installed the way they were but I've yet to see a home that's been renoed or an older home that was done with efficiency in mind so I just figure I'll be doing something to it.

This area is a bit of a priority

Thats roughly 12 sqft with zero insulation to the outside right beside where we sit a fair amount. I'm not really sure how to deal with this though. I don't want to go nuts with the spray foam incase I ever need to mess with the wiring. poly taped to the side of the box maybe? there is a small gap so maybe I can slip 1/2" rigid behind it.

Daox 11-13-10 07:37 PM

Rigid behind it is a good idea. Any way you can bump it out to get more behind it?

Phantom 11-16-10 11:40 AM

For the fuse box to help insulate it I would try and seal the space at the top and the bottom. Then if build a frame for the door in front if it the frame would add a lip for the door to rest on on that lip add a closed cell foam tape and add a lock to the door so that it will keep it closed tight.

strider3700 11-18-10 01:31 AM

Yep I discussed the breakerbox with my wife and will probably end up doing as you suggested phantom.

On the cold room front I wired up a 4" 120V fan I had in an old electronics project to the upper exhaust vent. Basically it's a big computer fan but 120V and with a metal frame. It draws 16 watts according to it's sticker.

It's wired to a light switch outside of the cold room as I only intend to use it to do quick draw downs of temperature in the room. I had noticed the temp wouldn't drop below 11 or so degrees even if it was 2 or 3 degrees outside.

After wiring it up the temp in the cold room was 16.8 C due to the door being open while I worked, outside is 3 degrees and the basement temp is 20.1 C . I turned it on and at 5 minutes we were at 14.7 C at at 15 minutes 12.3C and at 30 minutes later we are at 11.5 C

I'm going to let it run for an hour and see where it ends up temp wise. Since this was a temporary test I didn't do a great job sealing it in or anything so it isn't the greatest at pushing the air out. It should still have a good loop going in there though. Feeling outside It has a decent breeze blowing out through the vent so it should definitely be creating some form of vacuum most easily filled by the cold inlet

<edit> after an hour we're at 11.2 C I'll leave it running over night. I think I need to do some work on the air circulation. The IR temp gun reports the floor at the end of the inlet tube is 8 C and it's concrete and spreading the cold to the rest of the basement floor so I'm assuming the other probe is sitting in a dead area for now. </edit>

gasstingy 11-18-10 07:46 AM

COOL Project! (pun intended). :D

It's a shame the original install on the windows was done in so poor a fashion, but the payback on your labor & money spent should be real quick. Nice job on the room and insulation.

strider3700 11-18-10 10:41 AM

Well this morning I got up and it reports 8.2 degrees in the cold room. I've now turned the fan off and will see how quickly the temps go back up in there. I'm thinking I need to insulate that floor to prevent a bunch of heat gain from coming in that way.

The end goal is to get it to stay somewhere between 4 and 8 degrees so this isn't too bad at all.

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