Sunday, December 20, 2009


Last week we (by "we" I mean people who are not us and actually know what they are doing) started putting up foam on the outside of the house. 

Besides insulating the house, the foam keeps moist interior air from condensing in the exterior walls in the winter.

Gutters also went up.

I like that the gutters are actually attractive.

After the foam was up, the house was wrapped and wood strips (one-by-fours) were put up that create a rain screen.

The rain screen provides a little space for water to drain away and dry if it happens to get past the siding.  Long-term durability is nice.

Meanwhile, some sweet plumbing was going in.

This is in the mechanical room.  There are three manifolds that send hot, cold, and lukewarm water through the house.  The lukewarm water is simply cold water that has been heated with the Power Pipe™!  The Power Pipe™ takes warm water from the upstairs shower and sink drains and transfers the heat to the cold water coming into the house.  This lukewarm water goes to the hot water heater and the cold spouts on sinks and showers.  Pretty cool.  The manifolds themselves make it easier to distribute water quickly to different parts of the house, so there is less waiting for the hot water to get hot.

Next up is the insulation inside the walls.  On Friday, crews came in and placed a fiber mesh on the interior of the walls.  They then blew in borate cellulose insulation into all of the cavities (dense packed to 4 pounds per cubic foot).

The bales of cellulose get dumped into a hopper in a truck outside.  The hopper breaks up the bales and sends the insulation through a tube into the house.

This guy pierces the mesh and fills the walls with insulation.  Keep in mind that the studs do not extend through the thickness of the walls, so the cellulose can easily go around corners and fill all the nooks and crannies.

It gets a bit dusty in there.

Blake wouldn't let me have his face mask.

But he was nice enough to take this shot of the attic.  They have only filled about a third of it, but you can see how thick it is in the back.  They also will fill the space between the joists under the house in the crawlspace.  They'll be back to finish these up once they order more materials.

In case you were wondering, cellulose is simply recycled newspaper treated to be suitable in walls.

If you look closely you can spot newsprint here and there.  I'm still working on reconstructing the rest of this article.  So far I've been able to determine that something may or may not have happened to one or more people.  Stay tuned for details.

The cellulose also provides sound-proofing, so they insulated the mechanical room to isolate any noise.

Once the dust settled, the house had a very different feel to it.

Walking in, the first thing you notice is that the room sounds different.  The insulation deadens any reverberation, though that will probably change somewhat once the drywall goes on.

All the wiring is hidden away.

This is the front door frame and shows about half a cross-section of the wall.  The insulation goes all the way back.

Upstairs, the space between the ceiling and the attic floor gets filled.  We were using that space for wiring since it's inside the sealed shell.

And finally we see one of the upstairs bedrooms.

The insulation in this house is a big part of what makes it special, and seeing it go in was pretty neat.  The house feels transformed.  Pretty soon drywall will go on and all of this cool stuff we be hidden away.  Good thing we have lots of photos!

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