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zamoti 02-02-2009 08:25 AM

Seeking advice regarding siding/insulation/tyvek, etc.
I currently occupy a home built in the 1870s some of which has been modernized, much of which has not. In short, it's cold house despite my best efforts to seal any air leaks (from the inside), having insulated windows and a brand spankin' new furnace that is actually sized properly (unlike the previous furnace).

So my attention is going to be focused on adding insulation as about half of the house has NO insulation at all. This was a duplex (until I've made it a monoplex :thumbup:); the west half got plaster walls and insulation in the 50s and is pretty chilly. The east half has zero insulation (except for one room I've remodeled), drop ceilings, drywall that is attached to wood strips that is attached to the original horsehair plaster/lath strips combo. It's REALLY cold in the east half.

My question is what would be the most effective way to insulate the house? The old 50's insulation is crumbling and is in sad shape so I'd like to get rid of that too. I was considering having the old siding pulled off as it is in pretty sad shape, and having the house insulated and wrapped at the same time. The siding is 50s-era aluminum over what I'm guessing is cedar. The siding is in BAD shape (severely pitted) and the cost of properly painting the stuff isn't really worth it to me.

So would it be worthwhile to pull all this aluminum off, cover the cedar with foam/tyvek and put vinyl back up or should I go whole hog and pull ALL of it off and stuff the walls? As there are drop ceilings in all of the rooms of this house, there will be significant internal remodels coming eventually, but I'm really getting sick of heating the great outdoors, freezing my butt off and paying a miserable gas bill.

Gentlemen, your opinions please.

Chemist1961 02-02-2009 11:10 AM

To go big or go home always depends on the budget

Termite 02-02-2009 11:17 AM

I'd look into having insulation blown into the stud cavities. They can do that by punching a golf ball-sized hole in each stud space, so you're left with minimal patching. Tyvek is a good moisture barrier and helps minimize drafts, but won't make your house warmer. When you replace your siding, go ahead and Tyvek the house.

Another thing to do is to install a humidifier on your furnace. Adding a little humidity will make your home feel at least a couple degrees warmer in the wintertime.

zamoti 02-02-2009 11:33 AM

Depending on how big big ends up being, will have bearing on the budget. I just don't want to spend 3/4 of the amount of big for it to not make a marked improvement to the comfort of the home. If big ends up being huge then perhaps I'd look for alternatives. However, I'd like to take care of the siding anyway and if I can insulate at the same time, it seems that it would keep the mess OUTSIDE rather than me tearing out the external walls from the inside of each room.

I'm mainly concerned with what will be most effective. One major issue is that it feels like cold air is just pouring down from the walls. Insulated or not, there's always a breeze coming from someplace.

Regarding the humidifier for the furnace, that's been done. Got a top of the line furnace that's super efficient, zoned, humidified, cooks meatloaf, etc. Thermostat in the hall says 68, a thermometer in individual rooms shows on average 66 and as low as 62. Bad times.

Also, the kitchen(s) had no insulation and we did the blow-in stuff. It's helped a bit, but if I"m going to eventually remove the aluminum siding and then whatever is underneath it, seems like all the fluff would just fall out and I'd have to do it all over again. Just so you know this house wasn't built tremendously well and whatever standards applied (if any) in 1870 are probably well below what we would consider reasonable. The walls are built as such: interior surface (drywall), studs, original wood siding, aluminum siding. There is no sheathing, tar paper or anything else to keep the outside on the outside. If there's no insulation, as is the case in many rooms, it's pretty darn chilly.

I've heard of insulating foam that's gooped inside of the walls and can expand to fill all the empty space and recesses--is that a good option? With the blow-in that I did, there were a few random firestops and electical boxes that blocked the fluff from falling all the way to the bottom of the wall so there are random cold spots. Seems like foam wouldn't do that. The only thing I wouldn't like about the foam is that if I ever wanted to do any work, run a wire, add electrical that it would be a nightmare to work around.

Any help is appreciated!

Winchester 02-02-2009 06:24 PM

I was in a very similar situation back in 2004. Where we had the aluminum siding removed from our 1893 farmhouse (received a recycled credit, if memory serves me, for like $700 by my contractor). After the siding removal, arranged time where the wife and I blew in cellulose ourselves. Bought a heavy duty 1/2" Dewalt drill, a couple of 1" hole saws, and bags of cellulose that came with a free rental of the blower machine. Saved a lot of money doing this part ourselves and saw excellent energy savings come the following year.

Best of luck. :thumbsup:

zamoti 02-04-2009 12:52 PM

I guess there's no magic in this issue. My biggest problem is that half of the house has old insulation that is doing a poor job and I'd like to remove it. It seems that the only thing to do is to tear out the interior walls and reinsulate. Combined with tyvek/foamboard and siding, this seems like the only way to get this to happen and work properly.

Thanks all

MikeBinTX 02-06-2009 12:02 AM

Hi Zamoti,
In your last post you mentioned the best solution - expanding foam insulation. If you are going to remove/replace the siding anyway this is the perfect chance to install the foam. Best throw in some extra wall sockets while you can too because as you said it would get in the way of future additions - but what do you want?

I can reccomend the expanding foam insulation from personal experiance, I just built a new home in south Texas where the summer heat is a concern. This stuff has the place sealed up perfect. It will do what you want it to, keep the outside - outside.

Take the time to find and get quotes from a few local installers as prices vary, but it will pay for itself within a few years max.

zamoti 02-09-2009 07:05 PM

Thanks for the recommendation, got any favorite products? Any caveats when having it installed?

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