Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday's Thoughts and Other Stuff

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

The Mumford House
Urbana, Illinois (ca 2008)
photograph by

According to Katniss ...
We are three months behind schedule on getting the house fixed up, so we can move in.

Well, ... There have been some things we didn't plan on.

Cleaning Out the House
My Mother-in-Law was OPSEC years old when she passed away. She had kept a lot of stuff. Plus, she had a lot of stuff. Who doesn't ; - )

Of course, Katniss is working, so the simple task of looking through every drawer, in every box, in every potential hiding place has been taking longer than expected.

So, ... For all you parents out there. Go through your 'stuff' now and trash the trash, give away the junk, sell the excess furniture, make a list of where all the valuables are stored, and ... get organized. Your child will appreciate it, after you're gone.

Oooh, .... Please, Please, Please write the names of everybody on the back of those old family pictures  because your children aren't going to remember : - (

The Ceiling
I learned a new term since we started this project, ceiling/floor joists. Yeah, they are the ceiling joists between two floors.

It seems, ours needed to be updated, so we hired a group to come in and add another set of joists. The carpenters applied glue then lag screwed the new joists to the old joists. This made the ceiling level and the upstairs floor very rigid.

The Floors
At first, we weren't going to pull up the floor, but we had a problem. The floor had a dip, a big dip.

So, ... off came the floor. First, one layer of plywood then a layer of roofing felt, exposing the original wooden floor. Yeah, it was messed up, so we couldn't reuse it.

So, ... That came up. A day later and two very good size blisters, we could see 'new' problems and some potential upgrades.

The Ventilation System
Since the ducts go through an uninsulated crawl space, it was a no brainer to 'upgrade' the ventilation ducts with insulation.

Of course, I talked with the electrician (His family also does ventilation) about doing it. He said it was a good idea, just understand, the return on investment was like ten to twenty years ; - )

Now, this is where YouTube comes in. I was able to watch a couple of videos to determine the best way to do it, for our situation.

We ended up using a  mylar covered fiberglass insulation using UL listed 181 foil backed tape. The insulation provides R-6 insulation. I also sealed the duct seams with water-based mastic.

Hopefully, this will warm the house better and reduce the $400 a month fuel bill.

As I'm crawling on the dirt floor, getting very dusty, installing the ventilation system insulation, Katniss is cutting rigid foam insulation to fit the spaces between the joists around the band board. This will help keep the house warmer.

Originally, we were going to use some fiberglass batt insulation, that I had laying around, for this project.

But, ... Moisture and fiberglass batt insulation don't mix. It seems the fiberglass batt will absorb the moisture decreasing its R-value. Plus, the rigid foam insulation won't lose its shape.

The cost, $60 and half a day's labor to install R-10 insulation.

We were going to use R-15 but it wasn't in-stock.

Vapor Barrier
Like most older homes, from the 1890s to the 1900s, the house has a hand dug basement with hand laid rock as the foundation.

Well, ... They hit rock halfway through the dig, so the family and builders decided to finish up with a crawl space, a dirt floor crawl space.

Of course, that lets huge amounts of moisture into the basement and the great room.

So, ... Another $200 for 10 mil thick plastic sheeting to create a vapor barrier and about four hours worth of work, cutting and laying the plastic down. Two days later, Katniss spent part of the day taping the plastic to the rock, at least she tried. The tape won't stick to the rock wall, so we ended up just laying it up against the crawl space wall.

It already seems to be working. The basement's dehumidifier isn't running as long.

The Electrical System
We're glad; we opened up the floors. We found some 'hidden' problems and damage to the electrical system, adding $1.500 to the project.

First, a mouse chewed one of the wires. Luck for us, it was an older cloth covered wire that was going to get replaced anyway ; - )

But, ...

We also found out that the electric hot water heater and well pump were on the same circuit, a 'small' problem. Plus, the oil fired furnace had too small of wire powering the blower, another 'small' problem that needed fixing.

Second, we are planning to up grade the heating system to a ground source heat pump, so the electrician added conduit and the needed wiring to the panel for the future : - )

Said and Done
When all is finished, Katniss and I are very glad; we opened the floor and discovered all of these potential problems. It was a lot easier climbing over the joists, ventilation ducts, and electrical wiring then slithering around on my back trying to do all this stuff, in the dirt, ...

In a two foot high space.

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