Flooded Basements and the Benefits of Rebuilding with Spray Foam

Chicago area records in excess of 20,000 Flooded Basements in July 2023!

On July 2, a record-setting rainstorm dumped 9 inches of rain on some parts of the Chicago area, according to WBEZ.  If you are in the process of dealing with a flooded basement from the rains in July or from broken pipes and a flooded basement this past winter, this post is for YOU!

In this post, I am going to talk about three specific items that impact how your rebuild after a flood from the sky or from a broken pipe due to freezing!  Fixing your basement after a flood, paying for fixing a basement after a flood (Code Upgrade Insurance), what the proper fixing of the basement means to the rest of the house?


Families who have experienced a flooded basement know, (TRIGGER WARNING IF YOU HAVE TRAUMA FROM PAST FLOODS) it is a terrible feeling and something that no one enjoys or can fully understand until experienced!  This post is about what/ how to approach it and get from today’s misery to tomorrows dry, warm and enjoyable space in your home!  If you have cracks in your foundation or need interior or exterior drain tiles… get that work done (We can refer you to qualified folks in your area to get this done before we foam).  If you have issues with the downspouts or window wells not properly moving the water away from your foundation… add extensions to the downspouts, cover the window wells.  If you have landscaping issues, deal with it.  If you had a flood and are still dealing with the construction/ repair of that area… Give us a ring!  

The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) recognizes the benefits of closed cell foam insulation in disasters! Closed Cell foam is an “acceptable” product in areas where floods happen. Fiberglass, Mineral Wool, Cotton are all deemed “unacceptable”. Foam insulation can stop the cold from freezing pipes in your home ever again and in the event of a flood from rains, you can simply clean and rebuild without the need to replace the foam insulation in your home!

The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) recognizes the benefits of closed cell foam insulation in disasters! Closed Cell foam is an “acceptable” product in areas where floods happen.

Rebuilding after a loss in your basement!

With two decades of reviewing different methods that basements have been finished in the Chicago area, I can say that no two have been done the same…. It is common to find basements with no more than .5” furring strip and the drywall attached to that.  Anything less than 2.5” of framing depth makes it impossible for anyone to properly insulate!  Now what?  You have a flood, money is tight….  Framing is an additional expense… or is it?  “Do I have Code Upgrade Insurance”? Call your carrier and ask this question because if you have this provision, the insurance company must pay not only to foam the space but also to frame it so we can foam it and if you run into issues with this, give us a call, myself or a member of my team can walk you through this process.  This coverage is more common than most people realize, my own in-laws benefited after a fire in their home destroyed many things and the contractor was moving forward with rebuilding the walls with R13 Fiberglass in the 2×4 walls of their 1960’s home, which was “cold” during the winter and expensive to heat and cool.

If you ask your carrier about “code upgrade insurance” that means that instead of replacing the virtually meaningless R13 fiberglass batt that was and will again be in your 2×4 exterior wall, the insurance company must pay for the new R21 code minimum in that same 2×4 wall or 2” Closed Cell R14 in a basement/ crawl space.  For insurance companies, the least expensive way to meet code is to pay for the 3” of closed cell spray foam in the existing cavity to meet the R21 requirement for above grade walls.  

What does fixing my basement do for the rest of my house?

In a basement, the code is R14 continuous insulation.  As the FEMA chart above shows you, the only material they recommend in a “flood zone” is closed cell spray foam!  To accomplish the R14 continuous insulation in your basement we need 2.5” or more space in the cavity.  We have contractors who work with our clients to help with these kinds of projects and know the framing requirements and we are happy to arrange for an estimate from them to make it easier for you to focus on recovering and not the minutia of construction/ codes and code officials.

2” of closed cell foam, R14 to that exterior wall so that your basement will be significantly warmer this coming winter and the first floor will have less comfort issues since the basement will be a much more reasonable temperature for the balance of the winter.  The rim in your basement, the area above the foundation and below the first floor is the second leakiest area in your home after the attic.  Sealing the rim and the walls of your basement will dramatically reduce the amount of outside air sucked into your home as the hot air leaks out of the attic!

In the event that you require a ditch to be dug around the exterior of your foundation, that is a phenomenal time to add 2-3” of closed cell foam to the exterior of the foundation before the ditch is back filled.  Closed Cell foam installed to the exterior of the foundation will augment the moisture barrier qualities of the foundation AND it will protect agains the worst that mother nature has to offer without taking up additional framing space in your basement!

In conclusion: give us a ring and we can help you with all aspects of rebuilding and making your home more resilient and more comfortable!

About the Author, Tom Decker

With ten years of experience selling spray foam insulation in Chicago, Tom Decker is THE person to call and the Chicago Green Insulation is the organization to hire when you are looking for top notch quality and performance as well as someone who can deal with the needs of code officials, home owners and general contractors. Call the others in Chicago, if you are interested in the cheapest price, call Chicago Green Insulation if you are interested in using your dollars to make Chicago a better city for all of us!

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