Insulating old house

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Master Brian, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. jch

    jch New Member

    Well, there's always option #3 that I mentioned above:
    That, along with installing flashing at the top of every window/door to prevent water intrusion into the wall, would really drop your heating costs without having to remove all the siding.

    More expensive up-front than cellulose, but much less labour-intensive.
  2. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas

    I know that is an option, I just am not sure it is an economically viable option. All of the kits I have seen in the past are very expensive for the DIY'er and I'm sure the pro's, if any are around, are very expensive!

    I will look into it some more, but unless I find a foam that is justifiable expense wise, I doubt I do that.

    I do appreciate the feedback in any case!
  3. Chessiec

    Chessiec New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    durham, nc
    Brian,
    I completely agree with all the advice that the focus should be on getting rid of air infiltration. It isn't sexy or heroic, but as you note, there is always a lot of gap-sealing to do in old houses.

    The sills and around windows and doors are major air infiltration points. Then the attic, especially the band where the walls and ceiling join, as well as all the penetration points, especially for ceiling-mounted lighting and fans.

    Good for you, to take an old house and make it more efficient. Be happy with what you do, and if the thought of replacing windows irritates you, do something else. (But just as clarification: thermal heat gain figures appear to be what you got side-tracked by. This is a measure of how much solar radiation is allowed to pass through windows into the house. Important if you have a passive solar design in which you WANT the solar radiant heat to be transmitted into the house. Has little to do with overall energy performance of the window as a unit.)

    FWIW, I can't stand fiberglass, functionally or health-wise, and hope to never have it in one of my homes again. Thumbs up on rock wool, damp-spray cellulose and the blown in foams.

    I'd love to hear an informed summary on the benefits and detriments of open vs. closed cell foam insulations in remodeling situations, in both crawlspace and wall applications.

    Cheers.
  4. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I am also somewhat curious about a couple of other things....

    1) I am also going to finish off a portion of attic and turn it into a somewhat finished storage area. The question I have is about fiberglass batting with the facing on it. I can't seem to find 24" x 3" fiberglass batting without the facing. I know they say not to install insulation over batting that is faced, why not?

    2) I have 2 small crawlspace areas that I want to insulate the ground portion. I am thinking of laying down cement blocks, because I have them and can get more for cheap, which with the addition of concrete poured between the gaps would give me basically a concrete floor. Not looking for anything fancy, just basically to seal the floor from insects and rodents as well as a bit of insulating factor. My thought then was to install one or two layers of solid core foam down over the blocks, does that sound like a good idea or not? If I do this, I would probably seal the gaps around the foam with a spray foam. Again, they aren't large areas, but the interior floors above do get cold and both have batting under the floor in the joists.
  5. Chessiec

    Chessiec New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    durham, nc
    The warnings are about not putting a moisture barrier in the wrong place, being any place where migrating moisture vapor would condense where it would do harm.

    Often helpful to think about our home as having a thermal envelope which must be consistent and unbroken. Similarly, there is a moisture envelope. Wherever interior air flows, it carries moisture. As that air hits a colder surface, the moisture will tend to condense.

    For the crawlspace, someone else may be able to provide a more specific answer. But it may be of help that with a new home, for a slab, the order would be: ground tamped hard, compacted rock, poly vapor barrier, framing for slab with insulating foam around the edges and horizontally around at least 15-18" of the perimeter (more than about 24" is a waste), then pour the slab.
  6. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I want to thank everyone for their input on this. I am still awaiting a response from a closed-cell DIY company, but after speaking with a good friend whom has built hundreds of houses in the area and after speaking with the local housing inspection office, I am pretty sure I am going forward with the cellulose.

    I just spoke with an inspector whom said he's been around a long time and has never seen any issues with blowing cellulose into these older houses in Kansas or even Oklahoma. I'm in the southern part of Kansas, 30-40miles from Oklahoma.

    My friend, is a licensed contractor, but he admitted he wasn't the one to ask about the insulation, but did offer that he's never seen it be a problem either.

    I can totally see where this might be a big issue in certain parts of the country or even in Canada, where the temps are more extreme and/or more humid. In any case, I will try to look behind some fiberglass batting that was installed in the early 90's, I believe, and see if I see any signs of issues before I progress with this. If none are found, I'll likely progress once the weather warms up.

    I do believe the foam is better, but it's also 4 times as expensive and I think it would be 10x the work! If anyone has any other pointers, they will be appreciated. The plan is to pull off a row of siding just below the windows, then blow in from there, then pull a row off about 3-4' higher and repeat, going up until the wall is filled. Maybe the next time I paint, I'll pull a row off and check everything to make sure there is no rot and also top off any that settles.

    Thanks again, I just wanted to pass along, what I found out from the office of central inspection.....
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,990
    Location:
    New England
    The foam would flow into areas you may not get to blow in cellulose. It might also strengthen the structure, possibly an issue if you have earthquakes or are subject to hurricanes. It would likely provide less air intrusion, which has both good and bad issues. It has a higher R-factor. It would be a major pain if you even needed to run new electric or plumbing through the wall! So, you probably get what you pay for. Utility costs are only likely to continue to go up.
  8. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

    Messages:
    294
    Location:
    Brooklyn NY
    Don't mean to hijack this thread, but my Dad's house has no insulation in the walls.

    Plaster and lath walls, won't be doing any demo. It has tar paper as an air barrier but don't know what kind of condition it's in. The house is about 70 years old. True 2x4 framing.

    What would be the best way to insulate it from the inside. Can you used closed cell foam by only drilling holes?
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,990
    Location:
    New England
    Foam can be injected...you typically need at least two holes in each stud bay, and more if there are fire blocks closing them off part way. The general procedure is to insert it in one hole low and look for it eventually (you need the slow expanding stuff) to reach the upper hole. Lots of holes to patch, but I suppose if you used a good hole saw, you could reuse the plugs. Follow the instructions of the product you choose.
  10. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

    Messages:
    294
    Location:
    Brooklyn NY

    That's good news. It can be done. So, is the only downside of using closed cell foam the fact that you can't fish wires or pipes through afterward? I have remodeling and construction experience with kitchens and bathrooms, do you think doing this the first time is doable without overfilling and breaking the walls, or should it be left to a pro? Also, I'm guessing the foam would expand out of the holes and could then be cut flush with the wall?
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,990
    Location:
    New England
    Pick the right foam, and you should be okay.
  12. khali

    khali New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Houston
    polyurethane spray,protective coatings

    I have applied polyurethane foam for insulation my home.. There are two types of spray foam insulation: open cell and closed cell. Closed cell insulation typically has a higher R-value, so you get more bang for your buck. Spray foam insulation is expensive and durable. The product is more expensive inch for inch, and requires installation by a professional. It's sprayed in your walls as a liquid, then expands and hardens. Spray foam insulation is great because it fills every little nook and cranny creating an air tight seal. It doesn't biode grade, so once installed it will be there for the life of your home. It also doesn't shrink or settle. Spray foam is a great option if you're sealing small spaces like outlets, around window frames, and doorways. Choose best spray foam-e.gultimate linings, qwikliner , xtreme liners etc.

    Attached Files:

    • 6.jpg
      6.jpg
      File size:
      27.6 KB
      Views:
      92
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2010
  13. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    Actually, there's a lot more to this and you guys are making out.

    khali, the picture you posted is of a HALF POUND (per cubic foot) density spray applied foam, it is the cheaper, less effective of the two.

    The other option is TWO POUND (per cubic foot) density spray foam, when you spray apply this it expands within seconds, not minutes, and if the guy using the gun knows what he is doing you wont need to do the ridiculous amount of trimming that half-pound foam requires.

    [​IMG]

    That is a finished product after spraying 2 pound density foam, it doesn't expand in huge plumes and can provide R7 per inch.

    Half pound foam is junk.

    Neither of them can be installed in any large volume by a home owner, it's never going to be feasible to try to buy little cans, or propane bottle diy kits and do an entire house, this is a job for PROFESSIONALS.
  14. khali

    khali New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Houston
    polyurethane foam

    Spray foam insulation is a polyurethane foam that is pumped into your home so that your walls, ceilings, will be insulated well. This type of insulation will help you to keep the cold outside during winter and help keep the heat out during the summer months. After all no one wants to be too hot or too cold. At one point only trained professionals could do this. Now they have the do it yourself kits.Today many company providing polyurethane foam e.g ultimate linings,qwikliner etc.I have applied ultimate linings polyurethane foam for the last 15 yrs.It's result amazing.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2010
Similar Threads: Insulating house
Forum Title Date
Remodel Forum & Blog Walkout basement finishing - insulating walls above and below grade Sep 9, 2014
Remodel Forum & Blog Finishing Basement - Insulating Walls and Floors May 16, 2013
Remodel Forum & Blog Insulating R5 'Penitentairy tile' walls Nov 20, 2012
Remodel Forum & Blog Insulating Brick home in OK? Aug 3, 2012
Remodel Forum & Blog Finishing and Insulating garage walls Jul 31, 2012

Share This Page