Insulate a Basement
LESLIE: Cathy in Nueva York has a question about insulation. What can we do for you?
CATHY: Yes, hi. I’m converting a basement into an art studio and like a workspace. And I – actually, I had two questions: one is, is there any kind of a do-it-yourself radon kit I can get to check out if I have radon or not; and also, where do I put insulation without robbing the upstairs of heat.
TOM: Good questions. First, to the radon question, there are lots of do-it-yourself radon kits out there. The basic type you want is known as a charcoal adsorption canister and it’s a small charcoal canister. It kind of is the same size as like a tuna fish can. And basically, you open it up and you leave it in the basement for an exposure period that goes from about two to six days and you seal it back up; you stick it in a mailer and off to the lab it goes and then a couple of weeks later they return a report to you that will tell you whether or not you have a radon issue. It’s important that when you do the radon test that the house is totally closed; it has to be closed except for normal in and out.
LESLIE: Normal openings of doors.
TOM: So, it’s getting warm now. You know, you can’t do it with all the windows and doors open because otherwise you’d just be measuring the radon gas that’s sort of in the natural air.
TOM: Now, as to the insulation question, typically what you’re going to want to do is use a basement wall insulation. You would not insulate the ceiling of the basement but you would insulate the walls because that will make the space a bit warmer. And basement wall insulation is special; it generally is foil-faced on both sides. It’s designed to go against the damp surface there and do a good job without causing any mold issues or condensation issues.
LESLIE: And Cathy, since you’re going to be using the space as an art studio, try to get your hands on some daylight light bulbs so that you can really sort of simulate natural lighting as you’re doing some really – whatever your crafty art work is down there.
CATHY: Ah-ha, good point. Yes. OK, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Cathy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.