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Old 07-15-2019, 01:44 PM   #1
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Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


According to the blog below, he is saying that is not advisable to insulate the sidewalls of an old house only the attic?

http://bobyapp.com/blog/2009/06/myth...ld-house-walls

quoting one of the las paragraph of the blog:

Again, the primary issue for energy efficiency is stopping excessive air infiltration. There is no reasonable payback to blowing insulation, foam or dense pack into the plastered sidewalls of your old or historic house. This practice has truly been the ruination of many of our historic central city homes.
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Old 07-15-2019, 02:04 PM   #2
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


He is partially correct. There are other things you can do to start with that are much more low hanging fruit. After that, you can delve a bit deeper, but insulating an other home's walls, without having an idea of how it dries out, can destroy a home.
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Old 07-15-2019, 03:56 PM   #3
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


Old homes have enjoyed many years of good (good for the house) ventilation, however energy costs have made heating them very expensive and I mean VERY. Your climate region, hot, cold, marine, need to be considered. However insulation in the walls is definitely a plus. The prime area of concern IMO would be vapor barriers and in recent years they have learned that allowing homes to dry in at least one direction is important. Turns out most of the concerns about vapor barriers were wrong, citation available.

I'm a retired energy auditor in a cold northern climate where thousands of old homes have benefited from adding insulation everywhere. With more details we can judge whether you have anything to be concerned about besides the fuel cost.

Bud
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Old 07-15-2019, 08:18 PM   #4
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


I live in Bailey North Carolina.
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Old 07-16-2019, 09:26 AM   #5
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud9051 View Post
Old homes have enjoyed many years of good (good for the house) ventilation, however energy costs have made heating them very expensive and I mean VERY. Your climate region, hot, cold, marine, need to be considered. However insulation in the walls is definitely a plus. The prime area of concern IMO would be vapor barriers and in recent years they have learned that allowing homes to dry in at least one direction is important. Turns out most of the concerns about vapor barriers were wrong, citation available.

I'm a retired energy auditor in a cold northern climate where thousands of old homes have benefited from adding insulation everywhere. With more details we can judge whether you have anything to be concerned about besides the fuel cost.

Bud
Sorry to get a hair off topic here, but could you say what the new finding was? Like, I shouldn't Tyvec AND vapor barier my house [In ALaska]? We're in the "project by project" process of pulling off all the siding and drywall to replace all the insulation and put on exterior Tyvec and interior vapor barrier sheets. IF we shouldn't be doing both it'd actually save us a lot of work heh (like I wouldn't pull the siding on one of the upstairs bedrooms, just the sheetrock, or I'd only pull the siding on the other bedroom and not the sheetrock, etc.)
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Old 07-16-2019, 09:45 AM   #6
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


LOL, unfortunately you may be in an exception zone, although Alaska has some strange coastal temperatures.
Tyvec or house wrap should almost always be used. I'll explain the almost in a minute.
Vapor barriers can be omitted except for the far north and deep south. This link does a good job of explaining. But basically the need to dry is more important than trying to block the moisture.

I suspect my Maine is a bit warmer than your Alaska but I did siding and windows and opted for adding 3.5" of rigid insulation to the exterior. It allowed me to leave the meager fiberglass in place and add a thick layer over most of the thermal bridging from top of top plate to foundation. Probably close to r-40 walls now and really nice.

Start another thread if you would like more details.

Bud
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Old 07-16-2019, 09:47 AM   #7
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


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Sorry to get a hair off topic here, but could you say what the new finding was? Like, I shouldn't Tyvec AND vapor barier my house [In ALaska]? We're in the "project by project" process of pulling off all the siding and drywall to replace all the insulation and put on exterior Tyvec and interior vapor barrier sheets. IF we shouldn't be doing both it'd actually save us a lot of work heh (like I wouldn't pull the siding on one of the upstairs bedrooms, just the sheetrock, or I'd only pull the siding on the other bedroom and not the sheetrock, etc.)
What you are doing is what we do, it is fine if the wall can dry to the outside and the Tyvac gives you that, The biggest problem with the system was leaky windows so we drilled hole in the sheeting below the windows so it might dry. But with the new window install with the catch pan solves that so we no longer drill the holes. Other than leaky windows and shower I would not expect you to have a problem. Are you wrapping your outlet and switch boxes?
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:08 AM   #8
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


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LOL, unfortunately you may be in an exception zone, although Alaska has some strange coastal temperatures.
Tyvec or house wrap should almost always be used. I'll explain the almost in a minute.
Vapor barriers can be omitted except for the far north and deep south. This link does a good job of explaining. But basically the need to dry is more important than trying to block the moisture.

I suspect my Maine is a bit warmer than your Alaska but I did siding and windows and opted for adding 3.5" of rigid insulation to the exterior. It allowed me to leave the meager fiberglass in place and add a thick layer over most of the thermal bridging from top of top plate to foundation. Probably close to r-40 walls now and really nice.

Start another thread if you would like more details.

Bud
<3 Thank you.

We're sub-arctic zone 7 where I am, BUT we are considering an AC so that might change things. It's gonna take me a bit to get into the science in your link there. If I have any trouble/questions, I will start a new thread after I've had time to research it all
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:12 AM   #9
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


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What you are doing is what we do, it is fine if the wall can dry to the outside and the Tyvac gives you that, The biggest problem with the system was leaky windows so we drilled hole in the sheeting below the windows so it might dry. But with the new window install with the catch pan solves that so we no longer drill the holes. Other than leaky windows and shower I would not expect you to have a problem. Are you wrapping your outlet and switch boxes?
... No, we haven't been wrapping the outlet boxes. We did replace all the windows with low-e vinyls though, we wrapped the rough with water proof membrane and the windows have ... well it's basically a miniature gutter along the tops. We have one original window left in the house, the one we're turning into a french door, so I have until next summer to figure it all out.
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:15 AM   #10
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


Moving towards a deep energy retrofit works well when you are doing most of the labor and you are attacking much of the work anyway. I was going after roof, siding, and windows anyway so adding the rigid layer wasn't that bad. Plus I wanted to experiment as I advise people here and in person.

I will watch for your thread.

Bud
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:29 AM   #11
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mystriss View Post
... No, we haven't been wrapping the outlet boxes. We did replace all the windows with low-e vinyls though, we wrapped the rough with water proof membrane and the windows have ... well it's basically a miniature gutter along the tops. We have one original window left in the house, the one we're turning into a french door, so I have until next summer to figure it all out.

If you are not doing the boxes the rest is just a waste.



https://www.homedepot.com/p/NuTek-1-...SWVB/207205359
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:36 AM   #12
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


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Originally Posted by form8829 View Post
I live in Bailey North Carolina.
How old is the house, is it balloon frame. best money to start with is in the attic and gaskets behind outlet covers.
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:38 AM   #13
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


I watched the video but didn't see it mention where they are. if in the deep south that would be a mistake. Even up to near the border the VB might not be the best.

One mistake they are making is implying that the VB is the air barrier. Those two functions are not the same as a plastic VB can often be compromised during installation or during the drywall and no longer function as an air barrier.

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Old 07-16-2019, 10:48 AM   #14
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud9051 View Post
I watched the video but didn't see it mention where they are. if in the deep south that would be a mistake. Even up to near the border the VB might not be the best.

One mistake they are making is implying that the VB is the air barrier. Those two functions are not the same as a plastic VB can often be compromised during installation or during the drywall and no longer function as an air barrier.

Bud
Air can get thru that insulation, what do you do at the floor and around boxes. They have gone nuts up here, if the insulators what to tape it there needs to be wood behind the tape, then they loose insulation.
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Old 07-16-2019, 11:31 AM   #15
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Re: Insulating Sidewalls of an Old House


As far as I know, the house was built around the year 1910.

Quote:
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How old is the house, is it balloon frame. best money to start with is in the attic and gaskets behind outlet covers.
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