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Thread: A question for you home improvement types...

  1. #1
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default A question for you home improvement types...

    All right, here's one for the burly men (and burly women) in the crowd.

    This summer, my wife and I bought an old house (1932). We love it, and have been fixing it up bit by bit. One real problem is that the house is not well-insulated... our energy bills are higher than I'd expected. I'm attacking this problem one piece at a time, and next up is the basement.

    It's always freezing down there, and I'd like to see what I can do about insulating it. A friend (but I can't remember who) told me there's a new insulation that you right up against cinder block. He/she said it looks like drywall, and you can paint it, but it's just as good as roll-out fiberglass. Unfortunately, I can't for the life of me remember what this stuff was. Anybody got any ideas?
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    Administrator/ The Real Jay ChicagoJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    Nope.

    What I did was build a 2x4 wall along the foundation wall, and used R-13 in there.

    Our biggest air loss was in the floor joists along the perimeter of the basement walls. I doubled-up R-13 and stuffed it between the joists for about 30 inches along the perimeter. That made a huge difference.

    There is a rigid foam I know of that's about R-7, but its not paintable.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    There's a polyurethane spray-on foam insulation you can get. The problem is, it's not the prettiest stuff in the world once you finish - I'd not want to use it somewhere people will be spending much time unless you finish/drywall/panel over it.

    The other problem is it really isn't a do-it-yourself kind of job. It takes some specialized equipment.

    The good thing is it expands and fills all the cracks and really makes nice insulation.

    I'm not familiar with anything you'd paint on with a roller or brush.
    The poster formerly known as Rimfire

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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    Anthem,

    your heat loss through the basement is going to be minimal compared to the walls and ceiling. Have you done everything you can do there?

    Is your basement liveable? It may not even be heated in the first place, meaning the more critical heat loss is from the first floor into the basement.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay@Section19 View Post
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    Anthem,

    your heat loss through the basement is going to be minimal compared to the walls and ceiling. Have you done everything you can do there?

    Is your basement liveable? It may not even be heated in the first place, meaning the more critical heat loss is from the first floor into the basement.
    Well, the attic insulation is a wreck, but I already knew that and I know what to do about it. Ditto for the basement joists, as well as the six basement windows that appear to be made of single-pane plexiglass.

    The basement's not currently heated, but it will be when I'm done with it. We're trying to reclaim some of the wasted space down there.
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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    I'm assuming you have wooden frames for the plexiglass windows?

    The plexiglass itself shouldn't be a problem. (I worked at a hardware store for 5+ years, and worked on fixing windows for hours upon hours each time I worked.) Replacing them with glass, depending on how many, shouldn't be too costly, but really not worth it IMHO. Just checking the condition of the glazing, and replacing them if needed, would do the same as going to straight glass.

    If the glazing needs replaced, you can do it yourself pretty easily. A can, which would last me 70+ good sized windows, costs under $6. You'd need glazing points, should be under a dollar for a pack, and a one inch putty knife.

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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthem View Post
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    The basement's not currently heated, but it will be when I'm done with it. We're trying to reclaim some of the wasted space down there.
    Well, I'm on year #6 of that same project. Very close to being done.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthem View Post
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    All right, here's one for the burly men (and burly women) in the crowd.

    This summer, my wife and I bought an old house (1932). We love it, and have been fixing it up bit by bit. One real problem is that the house is not well-insulated... our energy bills are higher than I'd expected. I'm attacking this problem one piece at a time, and next up is the basement.

    It's always freezing down there, and I'd like to see what I can do about insulating it. A friend (but I can't remember who) told me there's a new insulation that you right up against cinder block. He/she said it looks like drywall, and you can paint it, but it's just as good as roll-out fiberglass. Unfortunately, I can't for the life of me remember what this stuff was. Anybody got any ideas?
    Is this something like you are looking for?

    http://www.oldhouseweb.com/stories/Detailed/13011.shtml

    This space for rent

  9. #9
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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    Quote Originally Posted by Since86 View Post
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    I'm assuming you have wooden frames for the plexiglass windows?

    The plexiglass itself shouldn't be a problem. (I worked at a hardware store for 5+ years, and worked on fixing windows for hours upon hours each time I worked.) Replacing them with glass, depending on how many, shouldn't be too costly, but really not worth it IMHO. Just checking the condition of the glazing, and replacing them if needed, would do the same as going to straight glass.

    If the glazing needs replaced, you can do it yourself pretty easily. A can, which would last me 70+ good sized windows, costs under $6. You'd need glazing points, should be under a dollar for a pack, and a one inch putty knife.
    Nope, old metal ones.

    A buddy of mine installs glass block windows, and he's going to do mine at cost. Can't beat that.
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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    Quote Originally Posted by fooddaman View Post
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    Is this something like you are looking for?

    http://www.oldhouseweb.com/stories/Detailed/13011.shtml
    I'm not sure how that would look painted. I don't think it's what I was told about.
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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    I heard on the radio that the government is giving tax credits for insulation inprovements one makes on their homes. I don;t know the details, but you may want to check it out. The credits run through the 2007 tax year I believe.

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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    Well, whatever you do, you better hurry. You've only got a month or so and that baby can't stand a cold house!

    My wife takes care of all the manly jobs in my house.
    "If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you." - Jack Handy

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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicious Tyrant View Post
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    My wife takes care of all the manly jobs in my house.

    Maybe because you were too busy walking around Bloomington with all those juvenile delinquents.

    I'd imagine if you let them loose once you left the football parking lot, everyone would have been a little happier.

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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicious Tyrant View Post
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    Well, whatever you do, you better hurry. You've only got a month or so and that baby can't stand a cold house!

    My wife takes care of all the manly jobs in my house.
    Well, the living space in the house stays warm. But it costs a good bit more than it should.
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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    Let me ask a follow-up question: What's the easiest way to insulate the joists in my basement? Just fold up some R-19 and stuff it in? Or cover it with something?

    The basement is mostly concrete block, but there's a 10-inch rafter space between the block and the ground floor. That's where the rafters are, but there's almost no insulation on the joists by the wall. I need to insulate it, but I'm not sure how.
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    Default Re: A question for you home improvement types...

    R-19 you probably don't want to unfold.

    I'd get a couple rolls of R-19 at the same width as your floor joists with a kraft (paper) face, unroll it, cut it into 24" batts, fluff up the batts, and staple them in place (insulation up, kraft face down) along the rim joist. If you've got water lines in the vicinity, use something longer than 24".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_insulation

    Batts are precut, whereas blankets are available in continuous rolls. Compressing the material reduces its effectiveness. Cutting it to accommodate electrical boxes and other obstructions allows air a free path to cross through the wall cavity. One can install batts in two layers across an unfinished attic floor, perpendicular to each other, for increased effectiveness at preventing heat bridging. Blankets can cover joists and studs as well as the space between them. Batts can be challenging and unpleasant to hang under floors between joists; straps, or staple cloth or wire mesh across joists, can hold it up.

    Batts and blankets are susceptible to poor installation. Installers tend to leave bypasses (air gaps) that drastically reduce their effectiveness.
    When it snows, you want (1) the snow on your roof to stay there (not melt). Then you know you aren't losing much heat into your attic; and (2) the snow around the perimeter of you house to stay there (not melt). Then you know you aren't losing much heat through the rim joist.

    As for your walls, I'd look into loose-fill cellulose...

    Loose-fill
    Loose-fill materials can be blown into attics, finished wall cavities, and hard-to-reach areas. They are ideal for these tasks because they conform to spaces and fill in the nooks and crannies. They can also be sprayed in place, usually with water-based adhesives. They are made of recycled materials and are relatively inexpensive.

    General procedure for retrofits:

    Drill holes in wall with hole saw, taking firestops, plumbing pipes, and other obstructions into account.

    Pump loose fill into wall cavity, gradually pulling the hose up as the cavity fills.

    Cap the holes in the wall.
    Although, interestingly (to me, at least), one of our bathroom walls changed shape a bit after we blew cellulose into it, and I've eventually got to re-tile that wall because of the way the grout cracked/ broke when that happened. (I've re-grouted, but it looks bad.)
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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