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  1. #1
    Clint White's Avatar
    Clint White Guest

    Default Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???



    Just got back from in inspection this afternoon. 12 year old home, upscale neighborhood, no major issues.

    In the conditioned crawlspace I found that all of the foundation walls have been lined with "sprayed on" cellulose fiber insulation. No big deal except it appears they sprayed the insulation on first and THEN added the vapor barrier. There is ALOT of insulation on the walls and also on the dirt. In some places the insulation extends away from the foundation 24" on top of dirt. I lifted some of the insulation and found that the dirt underneath is "somewhat moist" but not wet. I did not see anything that appeared like mold, but common sense says that moist dirt and little bits of chewed up newspaper don't go together.

    Before I blow this out of proportion, I thought I might consult those wh may have seen this. What are the inherent risks associated with this insulation in contact with dirt, if any

    Thanks
    Clint White
    Structural Integrity Home Inspection

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Clint,

    Attached CIMA Bulletin

    Section 9.0 Vapor Retarders
    .

    Attached Files Attached Files
    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  3. #3
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Thats a mess and need to be corrected. same as earth to wood contact.

    safe place for termite, fungus and mould

    Best

    Ron


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Many years ago I came across a home here in N. Dallas that had this same type of insulation blown all beneath the home. It was on the foundation beam walls, piers and on many of the floor joists in piers.

    Being that this material could possibly hide hidden termite infestations and being a conducive condition, the mortgage lender required that the material be removed.

    We won the bid for the removal. This was a 15K job and I know it had to be at least 12+ years ago. Some of the longest times I ever spent in a crawlspace was removing this stuff.

    Never would attempt it again.

    rick


  5. #5
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Say Rick did you have a mask?


    Best

    Ron


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Yes, I did Ron.

    Too many air-bourne particles during the removal process. Actually at the time both of my sons helped out on this job. They both worked 8+hrs. one day under this house with me. I could have not done it without their help. No claustophobia in either one of them.

    rick


  7. #7
    Joseph P. Hagarty's Avatar
    Joseph P. Hagarty Guest

    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Not sure about the recommended practice of using this material in this manner but the insulation is termite resistant....

    TAP Insulation


  8. #8
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
    Ron Bibler Guest

    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph P. Hagarty View Post
    Not sure about the recommended practice of using this material in this manner but the insulation is termite resistant....

    TAP Insulation
    It maybe resistant for food but it provides a (a safe access for termites), to enter the sub-framing. and that insulation as it get wet with break down. then we are back into the mould or mold thing along with fungus infections.

    Best

    Ron

    Last edited by Ron Bibler; 01-04-2009 at 10:33 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph P. Hagarty View Post
    Not sure about the recommended practice of using this material in this manner but the insulation is termite resistant....

    TAP Insulation
    Joe,

    "the insulation is termite resistant"

    No, 'THAT PARTICULAR cellulose insulation is termite resistant' (in your link), which does not mean it all is.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    The problem with this type of application in my opinion is that it completely obstructs inspection for termites. Termites could tunnel directly behind it even if the insulation itself is termite resistant.

    rick


  11. #11
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    The problem with this type of application in my opinion is that it completely obstructs inspection for termites. Termites could tunnel directly behind it even if the insulation itself is termite resistant.

    rick

    Seriously

    Lets just get down with it. This application is just about the stupidist thing one can do and should be obvious to anyone on this planet.

    There is no this is wrong because of this reason or that. It is just wrong to anyone that has had anythingthing to do with any kind of construction or inspection in their life.

    The person that came up with this idea should be brought down to the city square and flogged with a sign around his neck why.


  12. #12
    Ed Voytovich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post

    We won the bid for the removal. This was a 15K job and I know it had to be at least 12+ years ago. Some of the longest times I ever spent in a crawlspace was removing this stuff.


    rick
    Today a properly equipped contractor would use a truck-mounted vacuum to remove the material by sucking it up and discharging it into a dump truck.

    This vacuum method is often used here in our cold climate to remove loose fill attic insulation that might be contaminated by animal infestation or other problems prior to air sealing and reinsulating with new material. In other cases, this method is used because the old material is so poorly installed and the air sealing is such a challenging project that it's just better to start with a clean slate.

    The fire-retardant and mold-inhibiting properties of cellulose are results of its treatments with borates. Repeated wetting and drying such as are to be expected in contact with soil or--to cite a more common example--brick or other solid masonry walls--will leach the borates out, leaving the insulation vulnerable to fire and mold.

    On a side note, during the first energy crisis the cellulose manufacturers could not get enough borates to treat their product, so they resorted to sulphates. When sulpher reacts with water it can create sulphuric acid, and this is the origin of the story that cellulose will corrode and eventually destroy nails and truss plates. The story is most often told by contractors who don't use cellulose.


  13. #13
    Shaun Dauge's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    I'm glad I found this post, been seeing a lot of this around here.


  14. #14
    Ian Currie's Avatar
    Ian Currie Guest

    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    I have a question that may seem silly; but I'm new to this and am following these posts to help me learn a bit more while I'm taking some home inspection courses. . . . anyway, here it is:

    Does a crawl space really need its floor to be insulated and does it offer a large enough energy savings potential?

    Here's why I ask:

    I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada) and it gets damned cold in the dead of winter. . . -40C cold (just happens to be -40F too) and I've seen a few residential crawl spaces and countless commercial / industrial crawlspaces and I've never seen the crawlspace floor insulated before. Dirt, sand, quarter down limestone, sometimes w/ vapour barrier, other times not. Now the walls are insulated, but I've never seen the floor insulated.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Currie View Post
    Now the walls are insulated, but I've never seen the floor insulated.

    Well, how deep is your frost depth, or do you have a permafrost depth?

    I ask because footings are required to go below frost depth, in which case if the crawlspace walls were insulated and the frost depth was 5 feet, the insulation *MAY* extend down 5 feet, in which case that would most likely be okay.

    Not sure how they are building those crawl spaces up there or how deep the footings go.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  16. #16
    Ian Currie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Jerry,

    We had an unnaturally cold December and January this winter and I understand the frost has penetrated deeper than the typical 4-6 feet below the surface (although our winters are cold here, our summers are hot and can reach, from time-to-time above 40°C (100°F) - so we don't have permafrost).

    Our crawl spaces aren't that deep (6 ft) - otherwise they'd be basements! And again, I've only seen insulation on the walls - and it seems to terminate at the floor.

    I have a crawl space and it's about 3 - 4 ft below grade, insulation on the walls and quarter-down on the floor w/ 6 mil poly on top. I enter the crawlspace periodically in the winter to check for plumbing leaks and frost and have never found any. The space is always warm and dry as a bone.

    Last edited by Ian Currie; 04-01-2009 at 10:04 AM. Reason: Incorrect frost penetration depth originally stated.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Cellulose Insulation on Dirt ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Currie View Post
    So back to my question, why are there crawlspaces with insulated floors? Is it because the floors are only a foot or so below grade and are within the frost zone?
    Most codes have an option which allows installing footings above frost depth, and that is to insulate the outside soil area near the footings in such a manner so as the frost depth does not penetrate to the footing, allowing the footing to not be as deep.

    It is possible that if all those requirements are met, and the inside of the foundation walls additionally insulated, then instead of insulating the underside of the floor system they may be able to insulate the floor of the crawl space instead?

    Or maybe they insulate the crawl space floor 'in addition to' the underside of the floor system? Which would mean an energy savings, just how much I do not know.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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