1902 Victorian

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

3,000 Square Feet of Insulation

Darwin went under the house today to evaluate the insulation situation. The last time we looked, it was (I think) around this time last year, and we noted the house was partially insulated under the floor with fiberglass batting. Since then, we've been planning to finish out the insulation.

Another winter is fast approaching, with the promise of even higher gas prices than last year. We're trying to resist turning on the heat, so the last two nights it has been pretty chilly in the house. When the cats curl up with us on the couch instead of blinking at us scornfully from across the room, we know it's cold.

It is time to insulate under the rest of the house. But Darwin found that it's a much bigger job than we anticipated. For some reason, we thought most of the house was insulated. Oops. Only ONE ROOM is insulated - our bedroom, which is notably cooler or warmer than the rest of the house at appropriate times. Makes sense.

So now Darwin is thinking this might be too big a job for him. He suggested we *gasp* PAY SOMEONE ELSE to do it. That would be a first for us.

To argue his point, he presented me with the long-awaited actual square footage of our house. It's somewhere around 3,300 square feet ... nowhere near either the previous owner's claim - 3,900 - or the appraiser's - 2,800. I want to check the appraisal again because if he underestimated by that much, we could possibly refinance. Only trouble is I can't FIND the appraisal. I put in a call to our loan person today and left a message. Maybe she still has a copy.

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Anonymous said...

Our house is a home that we intend to live in till we croak...therefore when it come to items that hope to do "once and never again" we tend to opt for "the best." Insulation fell into this catagory...

In doing some research, I found that poor insulation practices can cause an extreme amount of damage to your home--read "rot" caused by moisture problems. Be wary of the "pros" too...you will hear all kinds of "professional opinions." The insulation business is the new "tin men" business of years ago. Fiberglass installers will bad mouth foam installers and on and on. My suggestion: Do your own research--a good start is Tauton's "Insulation" book and Building Science online...

FWIW, my conclusions lead me to use spray-in-place closed-cell polyurethane foam...expensive (about 4X fiberglass). But let me explain my reasoning:

1. The stuff works great for an old house that has lots of drafts--it seals everything

2. It provides some structural rigidity.

3. The r-value is 7 per inch (but really feels higher)

4. It creates a vapor barrier.

5. It is impervious to water (the make flotation devices out of it). Plus it won't absorb rodent urine....eeeewwwwh.

6. You can spray directly to the underside of you roof deck, thus getting your attic within the "conditioned" space (there fore all your mechanicals can work more efficiently).

7. Rodents (read rats and mice) won't make a nest in it.

the list goes on. We had sprayed our upstairs and attic first...I wasn't sure I would do the downstairs with it until we lived in the house for awhile...the difference between the upstairs and downstairs is unbelievable...although the budget is tight for the downstairs, the foam insulation is not an area that I'm going to "cheat" on...well worth the money imho.

Two companies to check out: Corbond and Insulstar (the one we used).

Good Luck


3:53 PM  
derek said...

Another alternative maybe to insulate the perimeter of the crawl space, then you'd have to build walls all the way around, and have them sit on a poured concrete or concrete block base. I've heard mice like to make their homes in fibreglass insulation. You need to look at what is recommended for your area too, it determines how much insulation, and where to put the vapour barrier. Insulation is usually a good diy job, you can spend the time to get it right. 3000 sf. is huge though.

4:34 PM  
Patricia W said...


If your walls are in nice shape you will not put up rolled insulation (of course). It will have to be blown in through holes popped in your walls and re-closed. In my case (the plaster is so bad due to damage during a move) that it is worth it to me to remove plaster/lathe on outer walls and put up rolled. I have heard so many conflicting stories on pros/cons of each that I don't think there is a 'better' of any of them. It's just what is best for each house and what the owners consider most reasonable. Also, damage due to rot has a lot to do with homeowners keeping an eye on things. In your case, you will probably want to hire a pro because it has to be blown in and what-not. If my plaster wasn't a disaster, I would have hired pros to blow insulation into the walls.

7:35 PM  
JLynnette said...

I feel for you.

We just did this under our living and dining rooms. These are the only rooms with a crawl space. Everything else is basement.

The hard part was getting the insulation into the crawlspace. After that it was a piece of cake. We did it in about 3 hours.

Good luck!

7:59 PM  
Lenise said...

And here I am lusting after a 1,900 sf (on 2 levels) house. Oh well, that's probably all we can afford to heat, anyway!!

I'm guessing the appraiser was only measuring the living space, so no baths, closets, whatnot, though you'll still be insulating underneath them. We're (hopefully) moving from a 1.75 story house to a 1.5 story house, and our realtor says only the sf with at least 5' overhead count. Just an FYI for the attic (which is sooo cool!)

We're not very good (or adventurous) DIYers anyway, so I'll remind myself there's probably a good reason we shouldn't have 3,000 sf! Can you tell I'm trying not to be jealous? ;)

8:38 PM  
Gary said...

The appraised square footage may be "living space" and won't include an attic or basement. Check your real estate tax listing if you can. That is usually right for "living space". Most heat goes through the roof, so insulate that first.

11:06 PM  
John said...

I used to do appraisals, and some appraisers either: mis-measure the house and come up with the wrong square footage, some use the courthouse records for the square footage (which may be wrong or 40 years out of date), and they don't count areas of the house that are "living" spaces (unfinished attics, basements, garages, etc. They should include baths, closets, etc (we always did).

If you can't find your appraisal, contact the appraiser. They are legally required to keep a copy for 7 years before they may throw them away. They may charge a printing fee however ($50.00 or so).

I'd highly recommend the foam insulaton if you can afford it. It's great stuff. Also, Gary is right. Make sure the attic and exterior walls are insulated first before insulating the floor. From what I've read, insulating the floor gives the lowest return for cutting heating costs. Storm windows or additional attic insulation may do you more good.

11:27 AM  
deb said...

also don't forget to seal up any cracks around the doors, attic and crawl space hatches... there's huge heat loss there!

11:49 AM  
Anonymous said...

My last house I blew cellulose insulation in the walls. I went around between all the studs and drilled a doorknob sized hole in the top. A little joint compound and tape later and you couldn't even tell.

I might do that on my current house, but I started with insulating the attic with a layer R-25. I had to remove the knob-and-tube wiring first because you can't insulate over that. When I can afford it I plan to install another layer of R-25 crossing the first.

Unfortunately my crawlspace is around 8 inches in places... so I don't think I even will get the option of installing insulation under the house.


10:18 AM  

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