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We live in upstate NY and the house has an unfinished basement. It's waterproofed with cinder block walls and a concrete floor. There is no framing, no drywall. However someone put up this hanging batting insulation with a white vapor barrier over it and it is just nailed to the cinder blocks. It's awful looking so we really want to take it down. We can't afford to frame it and insulate it properly since it's just for storage and laundry.
So my question is:
-If I take off this current insulation is the basement going to be a lot colder? Is it a bad idea to get rid of it even if it hideous? If so is there a cheap idea for insulating without framing?

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A picture of the insulation and vapor barrier might be helpful. – Tester101 Jan 30 '14 at 17:21
I'd question whether the vapor barrier is on the right side of the insulation - depending on how well it's water proofed, water can migrate in through the concrete and if the vapor barrier is facing inside the rooms, the water may be getting trapped in the insulation. – Johnny Jan 30 '14 at 17:33

Good question. Under the circumstances, I feel you would be better off leaving the existing insulation alone, or simply cover it with a more attractive plastic sheet or some inexpensive fabric. perhaps a curtain type wall over the insulation? If you remove it without a plan to replace the insulation, the basement will be somewhat cooler. There are several ways to insulate the walls without framing, but adhering rigid foam insulation is expensive, up to $80 per 4X8 sheet, and spray on foam is more expensive than that and should be professionally applied.

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If I take off this current insulation is the basement going to be a lot colder?

Probably. It's difficult to estimate without knowing the indoor/outdoor temperatures of your home, construction of your home, R-value of insulation, etc.

Is it a bad idea to get rid of it even if it hideous? If so is there a cheap idea for insulating without framing?

I wouldn't remove it because it's serving a purpose. If it's an unfinished basement, what does it matter if it's ugly? I haven't seen a great looking insulation. If it were me, I wouldn't worry about it, or finish your basement.

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The only thing that really matters is that the zone in your basement that is above grade is insulated well. Your region is a mixed climate - you are on the colder side of the mixed climate though.

I would suggest two things if you are not finishing your basement. Keep insulation to the point where you hit outdoor grade. This might be a foot to three foot in some basements.

Add 2x4s along the perimeter at grade level to support insulation - or add rigid to those wall parts. The 2x4s plus concrete nails is cheaper and would look good.

I don't agree with the batte insulation against the wall with a vapor barrier over it for your climate. But the vapor barrier is probably better than having insulation flying around... So poke lots of small holes in vapor barrier. You will have condensation and it needs to be exposed to air.

Now with less insulation you will have a colder basement in winter - but not a lot colder... but also a colder summer which is good. Basically the offset neutralizes the energy costs for certain climate zones. And add on the mold issues complete batte installs it is a no brainer to not do it.

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