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Old 12-18-2009, 07:09 AM   #1
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To insulate or not


I have removed the plywood paneling that made up my interior walls. There is no insulation in the exterior walls, and on the outside there is only 1x8 siding boards. People suggested to me that I not put insulation in the walls because of the risk for moisture to set in and cause mold. Is this true, or if the siding is caulked well, is it ok to throw fiberglass insulation in there.

If not fiberglass, what about spray foam, and what is the average cost these days of that?
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:37 AM   #2
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Spray foam is costly but is by far the best way to fix this. But not the only way. mineral wool insulation blankets will not be affected by the moisture and will be a good way to go. In any case you need to insulate.
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Old 12-18-2009, 09:03 AM   #3
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Spray-foam? Fibreglass? Do I insulate at all???

Depends where you live...with that construction, I'd bet you're not in Montana, now are you?
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Old 12-18-2009, 09:48 AM   #4
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Thanks for that suggestion Bob, I'll look into that.

No, i'm in Charleston, Sc pretty much right on the coast and built in 1839. Framing is pretty much actual 4x4s with 4x6(or 8)s used for corner braces.
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:12 AM   #5
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Spray foam may be cost ineffective for that area. But you still need insulation unless you also do not use AC
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:28 AM   #6
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My house sounds a lot like yours. I'm not in Charleston, but not too far away.

My approach has been to cut rigid insulation (R-matte brand from Lowes) and fit it into the bays, and then install fiberglass batts. I put the R-matte in with screws and washers, but stapes would go a lot faster.

The R-matte really diminishes the amount of air that blows through the cracks in the siding. No matter how good the caulking is, there will be cracks.

Where you live the moisture is outside. Since the old siding isn't really a smooth surface there is room for air to move around. There will be moisture in the gap beteen the rigid boards and the siding, but no more than what you have had for the last 100+ years.
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:43 AM   #7
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In an installation like mentioned by pyper I would use spray foam at the edges along the back of the studs first. This air seals and insulates where it needs it the most. this hybrid system works well in your case. Using only the rigid insulation you leave too many voids. Any void will produce moisture that will be trapped inside the wall.
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:27 AM   #8
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Thanks for the info guys! Sorry i've been absent, I got home last friday after it poured ALL day and my wall, in places, looked like a water fall. I had a ton of cracks, espeically around the crappy window installations, where water was getting in. That being said, i spent all weekend replacing siding and caulking and put insulation out of my mind for a little while. Pyper, what is that rigid insulation you're talking about? Is that the styrofoam sheets?
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:43 AM   #9
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Well, absolutely you're doing the right things first, by taking care of 'bulk water' - like rain - as that's really the first line of defense. So, roof, siding, gutters, downspouts, slope of land at the foundation are all things to attack first, by verifying that thay all work at diverting all bulk water away from your house - and I use 8' from your foundation wall as the rule of thumb distance you want water to be at.

Now if your walls are like waterfalls that's just a warning that water isn't being sufficiently diverted away; solve the runoff problem and you'll solve the waterfall problem. No interior product will solve that, so no sealers, no damproofing, no drain arrangements will stop the bulk water from coming in, so that's your focus right now.

Insulation will only be appropriate once the waterfalls have been stopped.
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:46 AM   #10
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Thanks for the info, I guess I need to work some on my gutters as well. Maybe santa will bring me a new ladder. The worst place the water was getting in is around my windows. The people before me did an absolute horrible job putting these windows in. They basically just took the window sashes and then put a crappy frame around them, nailed the sashes together and called it good. My other problem was they nailed the bottom part of the siding as well so in a lot of places water was dripping in through the nail holes. And on top of that, the siding they did replace a few years ago was thicker than the original siding and to make up the difference they just used wood filler which has since not held up.

As far as spray foam goes. I found a lot of web sites that have products you can purchase to do it yourself. For example...http://www.tigerfoam.com/products.php has it for $610 for about 600sq ft. Is this something that really is easy enough to do yourself? I'll probably still get a quote from a local installer to see if it's not too much more to have a professional do it for me.
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Old 12-23-2009, 08:24 AM   #11
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Our local building supply stores have the 600 sqft spray-foam kits available too for about the same price...so they are definitely within the DIYers' scope...600 sqft might be too small for some of the contractors anyway but if you get the notion of protecting yourself really well from overspray then it's a good DIY project that has the advantage of paying you back over time.

Protection is the pitfall...did I say that?

But bar none the best insulation/air leak sealer product out there especially to fill in non-standard area dimensions.
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Old 12-23-2009, 08:58 AM   #12
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Well i probably have about 1000 sq ft to do if i did all the walls downstairs (upstairs still has plaster walls). However, the right side of the house is covered by a porch so the rain doesn't really get to it. Would I still need the 1" of spray foam or could I just use the rigid stuff and then fiberglass?

And when you say protection, I see people where protective suits, but does this stuff really get messy? I guess I'd need to cover the floors?

Last edited by autx790; 12-23-2009 at 09:04 AM.
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Old 12-23-2009, 09:03 AM   #13
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sorry...it gave an error when i submitted my last one so i accidently reposted and didn't know how to delet.
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Old 12-23-2009, 09:59 AM   #14
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yes self-protection is critical in DIY spray-foam kits...it is messy but also dangerous if you get any of that stuff in your eyes or lungs. That's the deal-breaker for some: the danger...

You are in a hot humid climate zone so you are going to have to be particularly careful as to what insulation, and what type and what amount you put there plus you have to take into consideration that half of the time, you'll be in a cooling, air-conditioning mode so now everything is 'in reverse' - if you will. So in the cooling mode, you also have to pay attention to where and how the moist summer air is going out of your house.

I don't want to go farther than that since I'm in a very cold zone and our problems aren't the same as yours - so I'm no expert. But I do know that to resolve your problems would have to take into account air movement; sometimes that is easily solved, sometimes not...
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Last edited by ccarlisle; 12-23-2009 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 12-23-2009, 10:21 AM   #15
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Thanks for the help! I'm not sure about air movement either, but I do know that the framing allows air flow from the attic to the crawlspace and also between the first and second floor there is about a half inch opening between the siding on the upstairs wall and porch. So there is a lot of place for the house to "breathe" i just need to find out what is sufficient.
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