We have one corner in our basement that has never been touched since the day we moved in.
Now that we have three kids and the need for more playing area in our basement, my wife and I decided to consolidate all her sewing stuff into one part of the basement (apparently fabric is to sewers as scrap wood is to woodworkers).
So for my third covid-19-quarantine home improvement project, I worked with her to clear out the area, then I added a worklight with a Lutron motion sensing switch, re-insulated the joist bays using R-Max Thermasheath, and added electrical on a new circuit.
Above is a narrated time-lapse video I recorded of that project using my Raspberry Pi time-lapse camera.
Re-insulating the Joist Bays
I started out re-insulating the joist bays using R-Max Thermasheath rigid foam insulation. The bays originally had loose fiberglass insulation, but that's not recommended for joist bays because it is very leaky, allowing air to circulate against the house's rim joist, which can lead to condensation and rot over long periods of time.
The process for the insulation is pretty simple, first put on a mask and safety goggles to remove the old insulation; it's got a lot of nasty dust and glass fibers in them and they'll irritate the heck out of your lungs. Wear gloves too.
Then take then new insulation, cut out sections to fit each joist bay (I used two one-inch layers), then secure them in place using foamboard adhesive (I used Loctite PL 300).
To finish it off, since there'll be gaps around the edges and around any penetrations you had to work around, you can use low-expansion spray foam insulation (the 'Window and Door' kind) around the edges.
In addition to providing better insulation for your rim joists, this looks much nicer than the nasty old fiberglass batts that were jammed in place and are now full of cobwebs and even sometimes little critters!
Adding outlets on a new circuit
My wife wanted to be able to run her sewing machine, an iron, and listen to some tunes concurrently, so I made sure there were at least four wired outlets, one receptacle on each wall.
This is the part of the video where I have to give a major caveat: mains electricity is dangerous, and using the wrong breaker, outlet, wiring, or fixtures can and will lead to fire or electrocution. You are responsible for not only complying with any local electrical building code, but also getting the proper permits as required by law—here's why.
Anyways, here in St. Louis, Missouri, in the USA, basement wiring can use NM ('non-metallic') wiring as long as it's secured inside joist bays every six feet. Anywhere below the joist bays, it must be installed inside EMT (Electric Metalic Tube) conduit. Other parts of the country and world are different, so don't just do what I did, do it right according to your local building codes. Or even better, hire a licensed electrician.
That out of the way, I finally bought a 1/2" EMT pipe bender since I couldn't borrow my Dad's due to COVID-19.
I ran 12-2 NM wire through some 3/4" holes in the joists that already existed for another electrical wiring run for the garage, terminated that in a metal junction box, then ran NM wire through an EMT riser that I screwed into the foundation wall as well as the sill plate.
Then I bent a long EMT pipe to go around the foundation wall to the other side of the new sewing area, and finished off the run with another outlet.
I finally switched off power to the entire house, and, careful of the still-energized 240 volt feed, I terminated the new circuit in my house's main electrical panel using a combination AFCI/GFCI circuit breaker.
In my area, code requires GFCI for almost every outlet in a basement or crawlspace. I could've used a standard breaker and installed a GFCI as the first outlet in my run, but this way I don't have to worry in the future if I want to run any more outlets from the junction box I installed in the ceiling.
It's important to test everything to make sure it's wired correctly. I have a little outlet tester with a built-in GFCI tester, and all you need to do is walk around to the outlets, plug it in, and press the button, and make sure the breaker trips.
I also made sure to add labels to the main panel and the outlet covers to indicate they were protected, and needed regular testing to ensure safety in the long term.
After cleaning the floor thoroughly, my wife and kids installed some cheap commercial remnant carpet squares, then we moved all the sewing furniture in place.
I have plenty more home improvement projects to go; hopefully I'll be able to capture more of them with the timelapse rig! If you liked this video and blog post, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. I'd also be extremely grateful if you support me on GitHub or Patreon!