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splinter2 01-18-2011 11:49 AM

Insulating Older Home
Was'nt sure which sub title to put this in so here it goes, I have an older Home Appx 110 years old 2 story, with Little to no Insulation in the walls or attic. I have a Cedar siding shake on the Outside, But do have access to the attic, I need to insulate the wall of this House in a Bad way? Gas bills over 300 dollars, I have just finished installing new windows in the entire House (Anderson). I guess what iam asking is I will have to blow insulation down the walls, from the attic, I am going to run a wire down each cavity to make sure there are no Blocks. Its the only way I know how, I dont want plugs in the outside of my House? Nor do I want to open the walls inside the home. cellulose would be the choice and blowing it in. I am doing this right? Or do you guys have a Better Idea.


whammytap 01-18-2011 02:30 PM

I am certainly no expert, but I have always lived in old houses with uninsulated walls. Even the air gap between the inside and outside wall provides some insulation. Since heat rises, I would recommend insulating your attic first thing, and insulate it well, and then take a look at your heating bill. You may be pleasantly surprised. If you have an attic fan, insulate that during the winter, too. Ditto for the access panel, if that's how you access your attic. Insulating walls that have already been built IS a pain, I don't know of any way except those that you already outlined. Try doing just the attic first and see if you can live with it.

WillK 01-18-2011 02:59 PM

On my 1917 house I've been through similar, the house I have does have new windows, and it came with cellulose insulation in the attic that didn't cover the 2x4 ceiling joists, and on the end walls. I've removed that because it was moldy and I'll be installing new.

I've gutted our second floor where 2 of our 3 bedrooms are, the larger one is a bigger project because I have more work relating to routing wires and reconfiguring side attic space. The other room is where our 2 kids are sleeping until we get the second room ready. To ensure the smaller bedroom would be warm enough, I installed R30 batts over the top of the ceiling joists and R19 kraft faced batts between ceiling joists so the horizontal part of the ceiling has R49 and the sloped ceilings have R19. The knee walls have not yet been insulated.

I also installed rafter baffles to allow proper attic ventilation, previously there were 4 can vents, no intake ventilation, and all rafter cavities were stuffed to block them. The shed roof over the 2 dormers were distressed, all rafters were badly rotted and sagging.

I'm guessing you're describing the same thing I have with the walls, I have a balloon framed house with no fireblocks, so I have direct access from the side attics to blow in cellulose when I get to insulating the walls and I can do it from above. This should work just fine, I'd think the only way to be more certain of a complete fill would be to gut the wall.

Hunter25 01-19-2011 08:59 AM

I am in the process of doing the same thing right now. The insulation company that we had come in gave us an estimate for over $12,000 for the basement, all exterior walls and the entire attic. This is a lot of money in my eyes. Our house was built in 1901 and our utility bills average 425/month in a 1600sq ft house. I am wondering if we should forget about having them drill the exterior walls and just do the attic and basement. It is a difference in $5000. Any other thoughts????????????

WillK 01-19-2011 09:26 AM

As a matter of perspective, here are the particulars of my project:

My house was built in 1917, is a balloon framed 1.5 story bungalow built on a crawlspace. I am doing my entire project myself and have had some help on the roofing from my brother-in-law. I am reshingling the roof (done), replacing gas piping (done), rewiring the second floor and kitchen (rough inspection tommorrow), I've gutted the second floor to access removing inadequate and possibly moldy cellulose as well as birds nests and to remove knob and tube wiring.

This last part is key. I did all of the removal of lath and plaster first, and before that I took an EPA certified renovator course. As a homeowner working on my own home, I am exempt from the requirements relating to lead paint dust work practices. But I wanted to learn the practices and follow them to the best of my ability to minimize exposure for my children so I could get the part of the project done and cleaned out before we moved into the house.

Anybody that does a whole house insulation project as a contractor is very likely to have to follow these practices, and their price will probably reflect that.

My costs for the project would include the dumpster rental, replacement drywall, drywall finishing, paint, and insulation material.

For insulation material costs, I am using Johns Mansville fiberglass batts and my total for the material is under $800, which I know because I made my initial purchase in November and I bought $600 of material before a rebate deadline and I had figured I wouldn't be buying enough to be over $800, they had a rebate that was $100 rebate for $400, $150 rebate for $600 or $200 rebate for $800. So I got a $150 rebate for my purchase of $600, plus by the time I'm done I figure I need another $125, plus my first floor walls I will blow in cellulose for which I'll need 14 bags at $9 per bag, so including rebates it comes to $700 in insulation material.

Attic airflow is part of the project as well, and this is important to ensuring the insulation will work proper and not be degraded by humidity, so there's around $150 in baffles going in for that. The drywall I'm putting in to recover where I gutted the lath and plaster is around $200, and that will make it a little over a $1000 project to insulate the house.

If you are considering taking this on yourself, let me recommend this website:
It has a lot of very good information about how to do it right and I'd highly recommend it.

Of all the projects I'm taking on, I'd say insulating is one that I'd definitely say can be handled without a lot of DIY experience, although I haven't yet done blowing in insulation to say first-hand how easy that is.

Let me also add this: we're moved in now. I insulated the ceiling including the sloped ceiling part of the second floor, but not the knee walls. It's been adequate to keep the rooms warm enough for comfort, and our heat bills have been around $200. Finishing the insulation of the walls will definitely improve that, I just have had to hold off until the electrical rough inspection is done and I can't cover my new wires until after that.

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