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Cold floors - insulate basement ceiling?

The floors throughout my house are uncomfortably chilly. I live in upstate New York in a small ranch which has no insulation, vapor barrier, etc. - just subfloor and then hardwood between the basement and living space. What is the best approach to making the space more comfortable? I'd like to add insulation and possibly a natural gas space heater if that would help.

MLB Construction
Re: Cold floors - insulate basement ceiling?

insulating the basement ceiling would definitely make a big difference in the comfort level of the first floor.

Re: Cold floors - insulate basement ceiling?

If you insulate well, you probably will not benefit much from heating the basement. Try that first- no point in spending money elsewhere if you don't need to!


Re: Cold floors - insulate basement ceiling?

Also try as much as possible to reduce the "chimney effect"

The floors are cold because the house air is heated, which rises, then goes out the house through the roof (or upper regions) This air is replaced with fresh cold air, which finds its way into the basement. By adding roof / ceiling insulation, vapor barriers above and below, you can greatly reduce this air flow.

You cannot, nor do want, to ever completely stop the air flow. You need some fresh air intake into the home unless your house and HVAC was specifically designed for that.

Re: Cold floors - insulate basement ceiling?

Before insulating the entire basement ceiling, you may want to investigate sealing/insulating your rim joists. This link gives some options: http://www.finehomebuilding.com/design/departments/energy-smart-details/insulating-rim-joists.aspx

Re: Cold floors - insulate basement ceiling?

Have you considered insulating the rim joists?

Re: Cold floors - insulate basement ceiling?

My new first house was built in 1970, pre-first energy crisis. The rim joists in the full basement were not insulated at all. Worse yet, who ever had set the sill plate had done a miserable job. There was not just an air leak, but a gale coming in the gap between the concrete and the sill. I caulked everything tight and added insulation between the joists on the rim. It made a big difference. I never did completely finish that basement, but I did put in a drywall ceiling with recessed lighting. Even without wall insulation, it was a warm and comfortable play space for my kids. It also assured that the floors above were nice and foot warm.

I never felt bad about heating that basement. Very little concrete was direct to the outside. In the average home, most heat is lost upward through the ceiling,not through the walls. I would certainly agree with closing off areas which penetrate that basement ceiling , especially those that continue up through the attic, such as sewage vents.

Re: Cold floors - insulate basement ceiling?

I have to agree with insulating and sealing the rim joist first. If you don't do that, then cold air will just come in around the rim and get on top of your floor insulation, rendering it useless. Then insulate the attic making sure to seal around any vent stacks, wiring and chimneys. Finally work on the windows and doors, weatherstripping first. Include the basement windows and doors too.

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