Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday's Thoughts and Other Stuff

Dear Preppers and Survivalists,

What We Have Been Doing
We have been working on getting the 'new' home ready. The electricians are finished; we still need to install ceiling lights. The carpenters will be installing the floor in the great room and Katniss' office. We will be installing the window and door casing because we haven't made a finial decision on the trim. Plus, the upper windows are single pane with metal frames, so they will need replaced, soon.

Starting Another Project
Of course, I have started another project to help reduce our fuel bills.

The New 'Project'
Originally, the farm house had no insulation in the attic or walls. Katniss' dad installed a wood-based product in the early (OPSEC)s. This product had an R value of about R-5.

Now a days, R-13 or R-15 is recommended.

Since, we only opened the walls in the great room (We'll be doing the other rooms, later); so it's time to head on to the attic.

As you can see, the attic is a mess. It has several layers of insulation, in different areas, with several decades of dust.

So, .. The first thing to do was remove the old insulation.

It was really easy. All I had to do was roll the insulation up and deposit it in a large plastic trash bag.

Not really, the old insulation's paper backing would disintegrate if rolled too tightly, dispensing the insulation back onto the wooden ceiling.

Next, I would vacuum the area to collect the dust using a shop vac.

Of course, you really, really need to wear a N95 Particulate Filtering Facepiece Respirator to protect yourself because as you can see, in the above 'crappy' picture, there is a lot of dust on the filter

To finish up the project, I laid down 6-mil plastic vapor barrier and installed 'new' insulation.

Vapor Barrier
Vapor barrier is anything that will prohibit water vapor from passing from the room into the wall or ceiling insulation. It can be kraft paper with a water-resistant coating, like most insulation with a vapor barrier already attached, plastic sheeting, or other material.

I used plastic sheeting that I purchased at a big-box home improvement store. It comes in a variety of thicknesses and sizes. According to international building codes,at least I think, the plastic sheeting needs to be at least 6 mil thick, so I bought ... 6 mil. Plus, the home improvement store didn't carry thicker plastic.

To determine how much plastic vapor barrier I needed, I measure each room (under the attic) to calculate the square footage, added them together (don't forget the hallway and any closets), and added 10 percent for any waste while cutting.

Bedroom One - 12 X 12 = 144 square feet
Bedroom Two - 11 X 13 = 143 sq. feet
Master Bedroom - 14 X 16 = 224 sq. ft.
Hallway with Closet - 4 X 10 = 40 sq.ft.

Total 551 square feet. (Yeah, no upstairs bathroom)

Since I had the choice of 10 X 50, 10 X 100, or 20 X 100 rolls, I bought the 10 X 100 (1000 sq. ft) roll for this project.

For y'all asking 'What am I going to do with this excess plastic?'

Improvised shelters!

'Cause 6 mil plastic is thick enough for a short-term temporary shelter.

Now some of y'all are asking why is vapor barrier important.

First, it protects the insulation from getting wet.

Water will transmit heat faster than air. That's why you want to get out of cold water and dry off as soon as possible 'If' you ever fall into a stream or lake in the winter.

Second, there is a potential for mold, mildew and rot from the water vapor entering (and staying) in the walls and attic.

Third, ... Oops, there is no third reason

Lastly, for folks living in warm climates, where it never freezes, you might not need vapor barrier.

Needless to say, consulate with a building professional, building inspector, or building supply store for specific information for your area.

Since the insulation; I previously bought, on sale, for a different project; didn't have a vapor barrier, I'm installing a plastic vapor barrier.

In a perfect world, I would be able to just measure from wall to wall and install the vapor barrier like I did for the great room, in one big sheet. Nope, so ...

First, I measure between the joists, say 15 inches wide then I added another 5 to 6 inches, for a total of 20 inches wide. More about that, later.

Next, I measure the length, 12 feet and 6 inches long. Now, this length is from edge to edge to the outside wall because the vapor barrier needs to cover the wall too, just not the room.

Next, I found a long flat spot, and I unrolled the plastic and measured out 12 feet 6 inches. Cut to length, and ... paused to think.

Since the plastic sheeting is 10 feet wide (120 inches), I am able to get six strips of 20 inches wide (15 + 5) plastic sheeting out of each length.

Or, ...

I am able to get five strips of 21 inches wide (15 + 6) plastic sheeting out of each length.

So, .. I carefully cut six strip, making sure to keep each cut straight.

Next, I roll up each 20 inches wide by 12 feet 6 inches long plastic sheet, separately, and I climb into the attic.

Why, Again?
Of course, some of y'all (inquisitive minds) want to know, 'Why?'

I am adding 5 inches, so I can staple the 20 inches wide plastic sheeting to the sides of  each joist. The stapling prevents the vapor barrier from falling down and 'tightens' the vapor barrier's seal.

Enough questions ; - )

Next, I carefully move to far end of the attic and unroll one of the plastic rolls (that's the reason for rolling them separately) into the cavity between the joists. Carefully adjusting, as needed, I insure the vapor barrier covers both ends, over the walls, and staple it in place.

Installing the Insulation
Once the six pieces of vapor barrier are in place, I move over to where I prepositioned the insulation and soffit vents.

I get a roll of insulation and two soffit vents. Move to the farthest place, where I installed the vapor barrier, cut open the roll of insulation with a pair of scissors, place the insulation in the cavity, unroll it, just a bit, and ...

Proceed to squat, roll, and worm my way to the place where the wall and roof meet to place, first, the soffit vent then stuff the insulation so that it covers the edge of the wall. All at the same time, trying not to cover the soffit vent.

Next, I unroll the insulation to the other end, cut it to fit, and do the squat, roll, worm technique again, to install the soffit vent and insulation.

I do this five more time; until, I'm finished covering the other cavities I had already installed vapor barrier in.

And, this goes on until I'm finished.

It's Complicated
Needless to say, the fourth generation farmstead built between 1890 and 1900 is a little more finicky then the standard home built ten to twenty years ago.

First, all of the cavities are slightly different. Some are greatly different, so I have to cut the insulation to fit. That's why "if' you look closely to the above picture, you will see a cut in the closest batt of insulation. It is really two pieces of insulation, one 15 inches wide and the other 7 and a half inches wide because the cavity is 22 inches wide. Some are 21, some 22, and some 25 inches wide.

Of course, the insulation is long enough that I am able to use the remainder to fill any gaps.

To Be Continued
Once the first layer (R-30) is completed, I will added a second layer of insulation (R-30, again) to achieve R-60 insulation in the attic, the maximum suggested for our area of these United States.

The second layer will be laid perpendicular, so the gapes between the insulation will be covered.

Also, that's why I didn't staple the soffit vents to the roof decking. The next layer of insulation will hold it in place.

Didn't Fit the Narrative
As always, there a some picture that didn't fit the narrative, so ...

Two 24 inch wide sheets of plywood that I used to kneel on, hold tools, and ..., so I didn't drop through the ceiling.

The 'first' set of cavities filled with R-30 insulation, and the next set cleaned and waiting for the vapor barrier to be installed.

Yes, the attic joists are true 2X8s

Ten rolls of insulation, soffit vents, and the attic access opening.

As you can see in this picture, the old insulation hardly filled the cavity. Plus, the attic access had no insulation over it, so it was like a two foot square of escaping heat.

The Natural Handyman - Insulation For Your Home: Moisture Control, Part 3 of 3: Vapor Barriers and Installation Tips

YouTube: Monkey See - Adding Batt Insulation to an Attic

YouTube: Owens Corning - How to re-insulate your attic with EcoTouch™ PINK™ FIBERGLAS® insulation

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency : Energy Star - Recommended Levels of Insulation

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