Basement insulation and chemical smell

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Posted by: from Ingleside
9/16/2016 at 12:16:53 AM

I recently insulated my exterior wall and finished my basement. I used r12 owens corning. Now my basement and house have a chemical smell. I installed a subfloor (plastic) under floor with press wood tung and grove. I was told to use tarpaper between 2x4s and concrete. And then vapor barier over 2x4s then drywall.

There is a section of wall where there is a cavity of 14" away from wall. In the cavity there is Styrofoam on concrete then 14" till 2x4 wall. That wall is constructed like mentioned above?

My wife can't breath in the house anymore. When house closed up it smells when you come in. I don't know what to do. Do I tear down wall and spray foam everything?

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Date/Time9/16/2016 at 9:51:17 AM

So many things wrong to count. Let's Start with the Poly on the floor with Pressborad. You're going to have condensation built up that will eventually get to the floor board and cause mold issues. The R12 In the walls will slump when drywall is nailed on the walls.

If you have moisture issues in your basement they should all have been addressed before anything else. Best solution is hire a professional and have it done RIGHT the first time.

PS Foam is NOT always the solution to basement water Issues. There is a lot more cost effective builing praticrs as good or better Then Sprayfoam.



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Date/Time9/16/2016 at 9:55:38 AM


Sorry to hear about your delima. Are you sure the smell isn't coming from the tarpaper? I would never use that inside my home. There are better products out there. Although more costly. I have used all brands of batt insulation and never had a problem with odor. I am currently working on a cottage that was spray foamed and no smell. I would suspect the tarpaper. Or possibly some adesive, if any was used.

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Andrew in Ingleside
Date/Time9/16/2016 at 10:37:38 AM


It wasn't poly that I put under subfloor. It was those 2x2 press wood with plastic already glued on it. I'm wondering if could be the laminate flooring. It doesn't smell like tar so I don't think it's the target paper......any other ideas?

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Date/Time9/16/2016 at 6:46:34 PM

So you used Dri-cor or a similar product, that's perfect. Tarpaper ? Roofing membrane? Did it have a rough side with sand granular? If so then that would definitely producing VOCs in your home and that could be the smell.

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Andrew in Ingleside
Date/Time9/16/2016 at 7:24:07 PM

No it wasn't granular tarpaper. It was the old stuff that they used in the 80s for half basements or under hardwood.

Also I just found out that owens corning insulation does once in a while havery bad batches. So I may have been the lucky one with a bad batch.

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Date/Time9/17/2016 at 4:38:02 PM

So if it's not roofing membrane, that's not the cause then. The Blue foam board did you use a adhesive to the concrete? If so, what ? I've been insulating for 28 rears and never once heard of a bad batch. I myself don't like Owens Corning Insul but it's never gave of a chemical smell. The poly you used is it 6Mil ? Did you use Accoustical Sealant ? Oil based Paint ?

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Date/Time9/19/2016 at 9:43:09 PM

I would think its more likely coming from your finishing materials. Some laminate can off-gas for awhile if it was cheaper stuff its more likely. And yes tarpaper in the house doesn't sound like a good idea but I don't know for sure as I have never looked at it for that. Tarpaper and then poly does sound like a dangerous combo as vapour can get stuck and encourage mould growth. Sorry for your situation.

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