Floor Warming Building Guide

A leaky foundation creates a mess and wastes money but can be solved through this floor warming guide, including slab-on-grade, ventilation and crawlspace and basement foundations.

| September/October 1988

Formulas to eliminate structure problems and improve floor warming in your home. 

Floor Warming Building Guide

THOUGH IT'S ONLY A CALCULATED GUESS, one Department of Energy report estimates that, nationwide, residential households consume 12 quadrillion (a dozen followed by 15 zeros) Btu of energy in the course of a year. About one-tenth of that is lost through floors to the crawlspace or earth below. A second study indicates that if just the foundations of these houses were insulated properly (and nearly 95% are not), the conservation in energy could amount to one-half quadrillion Btu annually. Cost savings? Roughly $5 billion per year.

Viewed as a whole, the figures are staggering. But taken per house—your house—they're a lot simpler to understand. To begin with, it's become clear that insulating below the living area is cost-effective—that is, any expenditures will pay for themselves in energy savings over a reasonable period of time. Though this is more apparent in new construction, a home that's been lived in for years has plenty of payback potential in it if the retrofitting is done sensibly.

What's more, the very act of upgrading insulation above-ground—where most homeowners start—throws a burden of accountability on the structure beneath their feet: An uninsulated foundation wastes only 10% of a leaky building's heat. That percentage can easily quadruple once the house is buttoned up tight.

Such economic concerns are only part of the story. A correctly insulated foundation providing optimum floor warming can be the solution to existing—or impending—moisture (and maybe even structural) problems, a deterrent to termites and other wood-destroying insects and an impediment to radon infiltration of the living area.

Consider, too, that a well-sealed structure is logically a more comfortable one-and in the case of homes with basements, one in which a normally damp area can become a practical living space with only a moderate investment.

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