insulation options for old house

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  #1  
Old 01-24-03, 02:32 AM
edtree
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insulation options for old house

I'm just about to move into a house built in the early 1900's. So far, I've torn out all the existing walls in the kitchen and bath and put in fiberglass insulation which is working wonderfully - but - the rest of the house is cold and drafty, especially the stairwell. The plaster walls are in good shape in the rest of the house so I don't want to knock them out so I need an alternative insulation method that can be installed/applied from the inside.

The outside of the house is aluminum sided and I don't want to have holes poked in it. The inside walls, on the other hand, I've stripped down to bare plaster and it would be feasible to patch them if need be.

I will be going with a professional insulating company, but would like to be informed before my initial inquires as I'm a single woman and a good target for being ripped off.

Thanks in advance for any and all advice or information.

Elizabeth
 
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  #2  
Old 01-24-03, 07:40 AM
R
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The problem with insulating an old home with the original plaster walls is that they usually have knob and tube electric wiring. Knobs and tubes are isolators which mean they are there to prohibit anything from touching the wires. You cannot insulate a wall that has knob and tube wiring in them. It is a fire hazard. If you do have knob and tube wiring and you want your walls insulated, you have to upgrade your wiring before you can insulate.

If the wiring has been upgraded then you can have your walls insulated from the outside. A professional contractor will remove some the siding and replace it after he blew in the insulation and you will not be able to detect that he did so. This is a common practice and very easy to do.

I suggests you get several estimates, check the contractors with the Better Busniess Bureau and references they provide. Also ask to see homes with similar siding they have done.
 
  #3  
Old 01-26-03, 05:21 AM
edtree
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Thanks for the advice, Resercon. I have already updated the electrical wiring, so no problem with that. I was disappointed to hear there was no method to insulate through the plaster from the inside, but at least I feel a bit better knowing I will not have holes all over my aluminum siding if I go that route.

I'll be sure to get several estimtes, and plan on asking my neighbors here to recommend a reputable company.

Thanks again.

Elizabeth
 
  #4  
Old 01-28-03, 07:07 AM
brickeyee
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The same method of blowing the insulation from the outside can be used on the inside. An opening is made at the top and bottom of each stud cavity and insulation blown in from the bottom untill visible at the top. The biggest hassle is firestops, dividing the cavity so more holes are required. When the work is done from the outside, you take another course of siding off and put more holes in the shaething. The aluminum is actually easier to take down and re-install than pathing the plaster. The other problem with all these methods in old houses is the lack of a vapor barrier. Priming the walls with a perm rated paint is about all you can really do.
 
  #5  
Old 02-03-03, 05:56 PM
wcorbin
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Old House Insulating

Elizabeth,
I was wondering what the outcome of your insulating projust was because I am in a similar situation... what was the expense and which method did you choose?
 
  #6  
Old 02-04-03, 02:59 AM
edtree
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Hi Wcorbin,

So far, I haven't made any final decisions on the insulation problem. I am considering what has been said here and trying to decide if I want to go ahead with the insulation, or look into alternative heating (such as baseboard electric in the bedrooms). I've yet to get my estimates, but when I do, I would be happy to let you know. Sorry I could not be of more help to you.

Elizabeth
 
  #7  
Old 02-09-03, 07:50 AM
catsbytwo
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Hi Elizabeth,

Just a suggestion, I hope this helps. We, too, live in an older home that had no insulation, with walls that are plastered over sheet rock. We bought blown-insulation & rented the machine from HD. My husband located the studs in the walls & marked the center between the studs. Drilled a hole just slightly larger than the end of the nozzle that you put inside the wall. We then blew in the insulation. Here's the kicker!!! He bought a dowel rod the same diameter of the hole he drilled, cut them to the thickness of the wall, mudded around them & placed them in the holes. We waited for the mud to set, patched the wall (very little patching) & then painted. Even before we painted you could hardly tell there had been a hole there. This is definetely a 2 person job doing the insulation. Was much easier than we thought & a WHOLE lot cheaper than having a company do it.

Best of luck to you.
Suzette
 
  #8  
Old 02-10-03, 12:28 AM
edtree
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Hi Suzette!

Thanks for posting your insulating experience with me. This is the kind of solution I had hoped for. I will definately look into this method. I am curious to know how much warmer and more energy efficient your house is now? Has it made a significant difference?

Elizabeth
 
  #9  
Old 02-11-03, 04:47 PM
catsbytwo
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Hi Elizabeth,

We have only done the living & dining room as to date. We are slowly working our way thru the house room by room redoing & updating. It has made a significant difference already. Our walls were previously "refridgerator cold" & you could hardly touch them. Even as cold as it has been here in MI, they are just slightly cool to the touch. And our gas bill has already dropped from the same time last year. Much more comfortable to sit in those rooms.

My husband reminded me of the other trick he used with the wood dowel "plugs". He drilled a tiny hole in the center of the plug just large enough to hold a toothpick. Put the toothpick in the hole & hold the toothpick to insert the plug (after mudding around the plug). This allows you to be able to pull the plug back out if you push it in too far. Allow the mud to set before you pull the toothpick out. Also recess the plug just a little bit (not flush with the wall) so that when it dries you will just need to add a little spackling to finish it off. He recessed the plugs after we noticed that as the mud set, it was pushing a couple of the plugs out. Better to add a little spackle than have a bump in the wall. You need 2 people to do the insulation, one to hold the nozzle in the hole, the other to fill the machine. Is quite dusty, would put up plastic over doorways leading to other rooms. Our machine didn't come with a top so we used a trash can lid for the cover. I hope the one you get has a top. Well worth the money you can save by DIY. Besides, it gives you extra money to use elsewhere Good luck to you.
 
  #10  
Old 02-17-03, 05:00 AM
rhhjr
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Suzette/catsbytwo: your project info is very interesting. What product did you blow in ? cellulose ? cellulose with an adhesive binder (so it won't sag down in the wall cavity over time) ? or some type of a fiberglass product ? You mentioned Home Depot - what was the brand name of the product?

I'm in NY with today's forecast for 20-30 inches of snow, so insulation is a Hot topic. Thanks in advance........rick
 
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