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An interior basement wall finishing system consisting of mold/mildew resistant rigid fiberglass panels mounted in a polyvinyl chloride frame was tested experimentally over two heating seasons in a 19 ft, 4 in. (5.9 m) square foundation test module having hollow masonry block walls without any exterior waterproofing. Three vapor retarder configurations were tested, namely, no vapor retarder, a polyethylene vapor retarder on the interior side of the insulation, and a polyethylene vapor retarder on the wall side of the insulation. Conditioned basement interior conditions with temperature and relative humidity setpoints of 68 °F (20 °C) and 40% to 50%, respectively, were maintained over the first heating season. During the second heating season, the temperature was maintained at 56 °F (13.3 °C) with no dehumidification to emulate an unconditioned basement. During the intervening summer, the internal relative humidity ranged from 50% to 82%. A comprehensive set of transient and weekly manual data coupled with weekly observations of moisture conditions were collected. Under the particular "worst-case," cold-climate experimental conditions used, these data show that the no vapor retarder configuration has a stable annual wetting/ drying cycle for a conditioned basement and allows the conservative inference of a stable annual wetting/drying cycle for an unconditioned basement as well, so indicating the suitability of this configuration for interior basement insulation. The internal vapor retarder configuration demonstrated an unstable annual wetting/drying cycle with a single episode of condensate pooling on the floor. The wall-side configuration also yielded a stable annual wetting/drying cycle but produced prolonged condensate pooling on the slab. Thus, neither of the latter two vapor retarder configurations was demonstrated experimentally to be appropriate for long-term usage with this interior basement insulation system.


Authors: Louise F. Goldberg, Ph.D., Traci Aloi

Citation: Indoor Air Quality 2001 Moisture, Microbes, and Heath Effects: Indoor Air Quality and Moisture in Buildings Conference Papers

Keywords: November, California, 2001, IAQ

Citation: IAQ Conference: IAQ 2001