basement insullation - vapor barrier help

Hello everyone,

Let me start off by saying I have no clue what i’m doing. I decided to finish a rec room in our basement. This is an old house with concrete block walls that were previously painted with latex paint.

I went to lowes and asked a random person about what type of insulation I would need. He suggested faced batt and then asked if I had put up a vaper barrier between the wall and the frame. I said no but if that is the best way to go I can still do that without too much trouble. Long story short, here is my current setup which after looking on the internet seems to be a terrible one.

I wrapped the back, sides, top, and bottom of my frames with plastic sheets I got from lowes. I have the frames directly against the concrete blocks. I then added the r-13 insulation with the paper facing the inside, and drywall over top. so from inside out I have drywall, frame/insulation, plastic sheet, block wall.

The basement is fairly dry. The few spots suspected of any moisture had drylok applied. There is a ledge about 5 feet from the ground that moves the wall out about 4 inched to the outside, so the upper two feet of the frame is not touching the wall directly leaving 4 inches of space between the wall and frame.

I am kicking myself for just trusting someone and not doing any other research. Do you see any way to salvage this setup or do I need to remove the drywall and the vapor barrier. If it is possible to leave the frame against the wall what do you recommend using?
Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

oh, forgot to mention the setup is pretty much the same as this guys youtube video


When you start your post by stating:

Let me start off by saying I have no clue what i’m doing.

You should hire someone that does know what there doing.

Also does your jurisdiction require permits for finishing the basement?

You state the house is old. What is the condition of the exterior grade, roof drainage. Are there any big trees close to the home? What is the condition of the below ground drainage? Is there a sump pump in the home?
Drylock is a bandaid, any potential water intrusion areas need to be addressed before finishing a basement.

The interior finishing needs to be properly insulated and sealed from the foundation but you better make sure there will be no water intrusion or you will have mold.

Hire a professional, pull permits.

You should not do this work.

Your home is more than a group of connected living areas (kitchen, basement, bathroom, bedroom…etc) and systems (electrical, plumbing, mechanical). It is a single system and varieties of factors need to be taken into consideration before changing the balance that your home was designed to maintain. You are about to turn what appears to be an unconditioned space into a conditioned space and if you do it incorrectly, you will be spending a considerable amount of money to remove it and/or live with a very poor indoor environment (or what is more commonly referred to as a “sick house”).

Home inspectors make a living showing the potential buyer, that you will eventually be hoping to sell to, all of the things that are wrong with the way the basement was finished and why they should consider (1) not buying it or (2) negotiate a lower price.

Without knowing the structure of your home and its location, there is no way that anyone can accurately inform you of the proper steps to take to avoid ruining your home. You should consult other home owners that you personally know who have had similar work done and have them refer you to at least three contractors to consult and seek bids from.

You will probably ignore this and press on with your project, anyway…but remember that you did it knowing it was the wrong thing to do.

I sent you another energy audit last week from a guy who is a HVAC technician who moved back form Hawaii. I hope you got the job!

You should read everything already stated in this thread, but, the (red highlighted quote) is the very 1st, two pieces of information that needs to be known. Although what you have already done is incorrect, some of what you did may be able to be salvaged. Methods are different for structure type, and climate. Answer these questions, and perhaps some basic info could be relayed, but keep in mind, this really should be performed by a professional. A seemingly simple project like this could turn into a total nightmare down the road.

Like James said , can’t tell you anything without knowing your location and specifics of your home situation . The YOUTUBE guy is IMO an amature and no one should follow that example . Best of luck to you !


Before doing anything you need to address the moisture problem. Drylock is only temp like David stated. Next thing you need to do is see if the following website will help you.

Billy, that link is promoting bad advise in my opinion.

First, we should know where the question is coming from geographically, cause it makes a difference.

Incorrect use of vapor barriers is the main cause of moisture related problems in a lot of homes. Vapor barries were originally intended to prevent assemblies from getting wet, but they often prevent assemblies from drying out.
VB installed on the interior of assemblies prevent them from drying inward and that could be a major problem in any air-conditioned enclosure and below grade spaces.

Check out these links here which explain it better and provide a better choice of methods.

Hope this helps. :):smiley:

Yea that’s why I worded my comments “see” if the following website can help. All of you are right without knowing exactly where this joker is it’s hard to help. However I’m sure once he tells all he’ll be in good hands with you around :wink:

Is the link I provided the wrong way to insulate concrete block walls?

This is from an inspection 2 days ago.
can anyone see what is wrong?

Exactly Bob. That is what happens when moisture in a basement wall is trying to dry out to the interior of a conditioned space.
One layer of Vapor impermeable membrane 0.1 perm or less.
And one layer of Vapor simi-impermeable kraft faced paper at 1.0 perm or less and greater than 0.1 perm.
It is always a bad method to install a vapor barrier such as polyethylene vapor barriers, foil faced batt insulation and refective radiant barrier foil insulation on the interior of air conditioned assemblies and below grade conditioned spaces.
The constant temperatures of the ground of 58 degrees +/- combined with the room temperature of 68 degrees create a dew point behind the vapor barrier and cannot dry out. :slight_smile:

Thanks Marcel,and what you do not see is that the plastic is hanging over bare bulb sockets. The stuff(plastic tarp) is trapping humidity,causing a fire hazard with proximity to bare bulbs,holding water from a leak in a plumbing component (most likely drain but how would I know.

Can I add it blocks my view of the floor structure above?

Bob, was that a floor assembly, I could not tell. Basement wall insulated looks the same.
Crawl space? same problem on both cases anyways.
I did not understand what you are saying about a bulb. :slight_smile:

Sorry Marcel
This is a basement utility room.
The joists and studs were covered with insulation batting with paper down and facing me in the basement plus had a plastic tarp fastened on the outside which of course trapped moisture.
The moister meter is at a wall behind a hole in the plastic I saw and the light could melt the plastic.


How can thingas get to be so wrong?:wink:

Easy when the owner figures he is doing it right because he read it would save energy.

Missing weep holes! :mrgreen:

Good morning Jeff, you are right, and with the amount of moisture they are trapping, they might need a sump pump added. :mrgreen::wink:

Actually this inspection did include missing weep holes though that is way off base from what we are discussing.

I think we have strayed away from the original posters question.
I apologize to the poster, but just wish he reads all the post anyways. :slight_smile: