Monday, January 24, 2011

Knox Hill Project: Weekly Update

Working away and this week working on some projects that will make our house more comfortable.. One thing as restoration consultant I come across often is why is my old house cold? I have insulated.?
Removing a strip of flooring will allow you to install a backer, to keep insulation in your wall
The answer is that you can blow in insulation but if there is no "backer' between your floors you will never get a tight seal and your blown in insulation is not properly installed because of the way an old house is built. In an old house often the side wall 2x4's are the height of the house side walls (often 20-30 feet). The second floor, floor joists are 'hung" (nailed) to these 2x4's as they go up the outside walls. Now most houses have fire stops but these are typically at floor level meaning the cold outside air comes up the wall and then over in the air chamber between the floor joists. When you do 'blown in' insulation it never packs right at the top because is 'over blows' into this area and there will often be huge spaces where air can come in. This is why the second floor in an old house often feels cold even though it has wall insulation..

The proper "fix" for this is a little involved but not out of the question for they typical old house person. What you have to do is  add a 'stop' in the floor cavity. This is done by removing a piece of flooring near the outside wall. The easiest way to do this is use a cutting tool and cut the tongue by following the line between two pieces and then carefully prying up the board (Old houses do not have sub floors so this will expose the cavity). Later houses may have them and you have to also cut through that to get to the cavity.
Staple, then foam around the backer and the heat will stay where it belongs

Once you have this exposed you then need to cut a piece of Styrofoam insulation the size of the opening. Staple this or use some small wood stops to hold it in place. I then like to take insulating foam and go all around this area which totally seals it. You then replace the flooring piece and when you insulate your walls you will get a properly "packed/filled'" side wall. You will have nice warm floors because the air will rise up from the first floor and these will be no cold air pulled in from side walls.
Once you have the window weight cavity open,add insulation then reinstall the top piece

The next project was windows. Now our house has replacement windows (which will be replaced with historically correct wood units) and maybe your windows are OK but you will note that when you walk by them you still feel cold air. This is because they are improperly installed. All a window installer does is take out your old window sashes and install a new slightly smaller "insulated window' in that space. However old windows have a pocket on each side where the window weights are. The installer NEVER open those up and basically you have no insulation in those areas. This framework is what you see when you take the trim off you window frame and it sits before that. It isn't insulated (and it never is) the cold just migrates through this big cavity and is radiated right into the room. FYI those old lead window weights absorb cold nicely and its like having some big ice cubes in your wall. To fix this you need to open these up then either foam them or install bat insulation. Then reinstall them. I like to apply a bead of silicone caulk to the edges of the board before I put them back on as it gives me a tight seal. If you have any wood damage caused by prior leaks fix that before you do this fix.
By taking advantage of this "found space" you can move your light up higher which is a big plus in a lowered ceiling space.

The other project this week was drywall for the "raised area" in the fall that will be trimmed out and have a medallion for  a small chandelier. This is a visual trick that you will appreciate more when the ceiling  to this 'gallery hall" is complete. All I can say is this space will have a multi stenciled patterned ceiling and the overall effect will be quite nice.

Lot of work to move a door over  8 3/4 inches
The big "back breaker" of the week was the door relocation. The door into the master bedroom was too close to one side of the wall. This was visually disturbing' and it was awkward as you were too close to the wall when coming in or leaving. I also wanted to have some space in order to properly trim out this door. Now the expression that they don't build them like they used too come to mind but also "what the &*^% was the carpenter thinking as there were 26 square cut nails holding the door frame to the wall? In all my years I have never seen that many 3 inch square cut nails used to put in one door frame! You can't pull these out so you have to cut them with a sawsall where the frame meets the 2x4's. It was a bear to do and I went through 2 sawsall blades cutting all those nails. We then removed the old framing, re-framed the wall opening (moving it over 8 3/4 inches) reinstalled it, and now the door opens and closes properly
However, now the door can have a nice trim placed around it!

Overall, a busy week.

1 comment:

B and G said...

so how do you do the perpendicular walls? I wouldn't want to cut across the flooring and have little pieces to fix or replace so how do you handle those areas?