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Old 08-19-2016, 08:06 AM   #1
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Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


Hello fellow DIYers...

Couple of months ago, I found out why my house always feels cold during winter season or when weather starts cooling down even with our furnace blasting away. It turns out that the previous owner filled the exterior walls of our house with 2 inch thick FOAM like the kind you find in an electronic boxes you buy. I have no idea what its R value might be. I am guessing it would have to be very low. I think, the reason they did it this way was because the house is kind of small and so they didn't want to shrink the living space with bigger and thicker pink insulation... So, if I have to replace the insulation myself with higher R-Value insulation, I will have to remove all the drywall for all the exterior walls...It is going to be a MAJOR renovation. I can't do it from outside, because it is brick wall. Are there any cheap or simple solutions for my problem? Any input will be greatly appreciated. I live in PA.

Thanks.
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Old 08-19-2016, 08:19 AM   #2
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


How much room is there in the stud bay?
Foam has more R value then Fiber Glass insulation and stops air flow, unlike fiberglass.
http://www.finehomebuilding.com/2012...ion-spray-foam
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Old 08-19-2016, 09:06 AM   #3
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


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How much room is there in the stud bay?
Foam has more R value then Fiber Glass insulation and stops air flow, unlike fiberglass.
http://www.finehomebuilding.com/2012...ion-spray-foam
I would say about the same thickness as the foam. Even though it seals off the air, I think it still is not thick enough to keep the cold out. Especially during winter season, all of my exterior walls feels ICE cold.

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Old 08-19-2016, 11:54 AM   #4
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


I am a little confused about the type of foam that is in the walls. Styrofoam (often pink or blue) and similar expanded foam has an R value of about 5 per inch, which is better than fiberglass or cellulose. If the foam is tight, meaning it fills the cavity completely, there is nothing wrong with it, and there should be no need to replace it. If the foam does not fill the cavity completely, then you need to fill the empty spaces with insulation.

I don't understand your comment about not wanting to use thicker insulation because it would shrink the room. Are you saying the walls are only 2 inches thick? That would be unusual, most walls are built with 2x4 studs, so would be 3-1/2 inches thick. I guess I am confused about what you have, and what you are trying to accomplish.
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Old 08-19-2016, 12:59 PM   #5
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


It would be easier to understand what you have in your walls if you attached a picture.
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Old 08-19-2016, 01:57 PM   #6
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


I believe he has the same kind of foam used in pillows and sofa cushions.
The kind in those metal cases that hold AV equipment.

OP, correct?
If so, he's screwed.
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Old 08-19-2016, 02:39 PM   #7
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


I have basically about 2 to 3 inch thick Styrofoam for insulation in all of my exterior wall. It is not Pink or Blue but WHITE. 123pugsy is CORRECT. My wall from outside to inside (drywall) is no more than 10 inch thick. I always wondered why my house always felt cold with furnace blowing away at 75 degree. I happened to be working on installing a light fixture and running wire through walls. That's when I discovered the Styrofoam. So, I went around the house poking holes on the wall to see if I can see Styrofoam. Indeed, they are used all over the house. I wonder how the previous owner lived in this house for over 10 years. That might explain why her furnace was broken, when we went to see the house. lol...
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Old 08-19-2016, 02:42 PM   #8
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


So you have 3 inches of white styrofoam and 7 inches empty? Why can't you take a picture??
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Old 08-19-2016, 02:46 PM   #9
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


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So you have 3 inches of white styrofoam and 7 inches empty? Why can't you take a picture??
no the rest is brick wall...

Brick wall - studs holding the house - styrofoam for insulation - drywall.
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Old 08-19-2016, 03:39 PM   #10
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


White styrofoam is probably not the best, at least compared to insulation grade styrofoam, but it is likely better than fiberglass or cellulose. Your explanation that you put the furnace up to 75 degrees but the wall feels cold makes no sense to me. When I moved into my house 25 years ago, it had NO insulation in the walls, but it heated just fine, only issue was I wasted a lot of fuel. Once I added insulation, it cut down on the fuel bill, but the house is the same temperature. I must be missing something in your discussion, from your description you have three inches of styrofoam in the walls, which is probably close to R12, you are not going to improve the situation by removing the styrofoam and replacing with another insulation material, unless you use high cost two part foam insulation, which will help a little.
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Old 08-19-2016, 03:56 PM   #11
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


You said you first discovered the white Styrofoam when in the attic. This raises the question about how those walls are constructed. The insulation between the studs should not be visible from the attic. A picture would help.

Your climate region would help us.

Brick walls have venting requirements to help them dry. I'll add a related link that happens to discuss vapor issues and brick walls.
http://buildingscience.com/documents...rs?full_view=1

In addition to having insulation, it is very important that those cavities are air sealed. The Styrofoam may be fine, but if outside air can flow right past it, it does little good.

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Old 08-19-2016, 05:49 PM   #12
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


It sounds like major air leaks for sure.
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Old 08-19-2016, 11:51 PM   #13
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


I forgot to mention that my house was built back in 1921. My house walls are brick walls. All it has for insulation is very old 2 to 3 inch Styrofoam between the drywall and the brick wall. Yes, my furnace runs about every 8 minutes especially right in the middle of the winter season. And yes, my gas bill is through the roof. I am asking for a simple solution something that I could buy and slap it on the wall that would help keep the heat in.
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Old 08-20-2016, 05:16 AM   #14
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by diy4life View Post
I................................................. .................................................. I am asking for a simple solution something that I could buy and slap it on the wall that would help keep the heat in.
No simple solution.

I found this about old houses:

http://bobyapp.com/blog/2009/06/myth...ld-house-walls
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Old 08-20-2016, 08:00 AM   #15
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Re: Whoaaaa!!! Insulation used is FOAM!!!


Hi DIY,
Simple will be difficult, but DIY labor and a few materials can make a difference.

As mentioned, air leakage is a major contributor as it easily bypasses the insulation and carried the heated air out.

Were I there my first step would be to identify how those walls are constructed, specifically, are there open paths from basement to walls and walls to the attic. Brick construction will be a little different (thus the reference link I provided) but an old house technique called "balloon construction" is terrible for heat loss. If you can get a picture of that styrofoam you mentioned it would help. Also (if you have a basement or crawlspace) a picture of the bottom of those walls.

So, here are the questions:
1. Where are you in term of climate?
2. Pictures of the top and bottom of those walls?
3. Do you have a basement or crawlspace?
4. Do you own this home?

As a note, if finances are a major limiting factor you may qualify for some assistance for energy upgrades.

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