Technology Solutions for Everyday Folks
Injection foam insulation breaches an electrical outlet.

All Sealed Up!

It's been a wild couple of weeks since I last posted anything here. I'd exhausted most of pre-written content and with a bunch of these improvement and scope creep projects on the horizon it was not feasible to get more material churned out in the short term, so a break it was!

Half Way There

We had two of the four major projects completed in as many weeks, both taking place on a Monday-Tuesday. The first (roofing) was pretty "routine" as far as things go, but that crew really worked their asses off in an impressive way. They finished the house in a day, and had we not had some rain late in the evening I'm pretty convinced they'd have finished the outbuildings that same day as well. And it's really amazing how a new roof can transform a building. Our old garage was probably the worst roof on the property, and following the changes almost looks like a different structure.

This past week was insulation installation, long overdue. Day one was non-expanding injection foam (in the exterior walls) and removal of all the old insulation in the attic spaces. It's a pretty remarkable job and was super fun to watch. And heartening to see the mediocre insulation of the original structure. I knew it wasn't great (though it was insulated, so there's that), but it turned out worse than I'd thought. I'd just been lucky to find wall insulation wherever I had done exterior wall poking. In one four-foot length of wall, we had three stud bays with different levels (and materials) of insulation, adjacent to each other. One has normal insulation (for the time), the next had a bunch of random cardboard and other materials stuffed into it, and the next had...little or nothing. But they all have foam now...which presented a few interesting breaches...

As noted in the headline photo, we had a breach or two, most notably one (and only one, which was surprising) outlet box. I didn't find it immediately, but rather later in the day when I noticed (further down the circuit) there was no power. A check of the main panel indicated a tripped breaker, so I knew what'd happened, so it was time to commence the search. It was definitely worth a laugh. This stuff is non-conductive except when initially injected. I'm sure we have other outlet/junction boxes that have had minor breaches, but this was the "big one." We also had one duct boot breach, but that was expected due to its particular situation (and fun to watch happen, though Mongo the cat didn't find the same excitement in the exercise). Easy to clean up, and now it's sealed up as expected.

For as poorly insulated as the house was, what we had was definitely doing something, though... That night of "no insulation" in the upper spaces (attics) was pretty miserable. But one night is tolerable in the grand scheme.

Day two was the spray foam/attic air sealing, cutting in a couple extra roof vents, and a blow-in to R-60 or better. The process itself isn't particularly enthralling to watch, but the machines they use are super cool to see. The spray foam equipment is all computer-controlled and kinda mysterious. The cellulose blower is pretty rad in how it can chew up and blow something like eight bales of material per minute at max capacity.

What a Difference it Makes

As the crew left and we closed up the house (and started up the heat pump/HVAC system) again, it quickly became apparent how much difference the new insulation makes. It will be most interesting to run some real comparison data across heating seasons (though we'll have August to compare against historical cooling seasons), because it's very obvious that this new wall and attic insulation with the air sealing is performing exactly as it should. There are already areas in the house that remain/maintain a consistent feel that we've never experienced before.

12/10, would recommend. There are certainly cheaper ways to accomplish a similar task (I'd tried some of them), but having the pros do it will be well worth it.

Next Up...Windows and Siding

Our technical measurements for windows was recently completed, so in theory in a month or thereabouts we'll be looking at window and siding installation. And following that work, for the first time in a very long time (certainly longer than we've lived here), we'll actually be able to open and use all of the windows in the house (many have been/were sealed shut). It'll be a good place to be from when it's all done...and I'm thankful that we'll have been able to get it all done in quite literally under two months, since I'd originally expected it to drag out 18 months or so.

Headline image © Matt Zaske

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