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Advice: Cold house in new england/bad insulation

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by kulit17, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. kulit17

    kulit17 Wal Collector #35 Supporting Member

    So the season of cold weather is upon us here in New England and this is my first winter in my new home. My house is nearly 130 years old but probably had some reno done in between.

    Anyways, I’ve noticed the walls in all my rooms with a wall to the outside is extremely cold. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions to make my house warmer without breaking the bank in oil cost or renovating and breaking walls to add insulation. I actually had to do this to my second bathroom (tenant's) and it was no fun at all….plaster’d walls, horsehair, and metal mesh….bleh!!!

    Hopefully i can do this in two or three years from now when the funds permit, but i've already spent a good portion of my savings on other renovation projects for the house.....and not one of those was for my bass/jam room :crying:
  2. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
  3. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    130 years old is the main issue. Insulation back then was nill.
    I've opened walls up and found crumpled newspaper for insulation.
    You can try blown in insulation but the inner wall has to be open.
    Infrared detector may help pin point areas.
  4. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    Break the bank. Last year was our first winter in New England, and our first taste of a monthly propane bill of $750-800.

  5. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI

    I've seen (and read) newspaper insulation. It scares the crap out of me, but when you consider they used to heat with wood or coal....... We should all be extinct now!

    You can rent a machine to blow in cellulose insulation. The down side is you have to take a hole saw to your walls.
  6. Randall


    Aug 6, 2009
    When my dad replaced our vinyl siding with stucco he added a exterior insulation under it. A lot of work but no interior work required. House wrap also stops air infiltration on the older houses. No cheap or easy solution to your problem.
  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    The least expensive and most effective thing you can do is to seal every air leak. Doors, windows, walls, basement, pipe and power line penetrations of the walls, check them all out. Every bit of air exchanged between interior and exterior hurts you. Even blue painter's tape over a gap in a leaky window frame is better than nothing.
  8. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member


    The walls feeling cold is worrisome. When we first moved back here (NH) from Indiana, we rented this 18th-century farmhouse that we thought would be very quaint and have lots of personality. It had a SECOND furnace upstairs, cost us our eldest daughter to heat, and STILL never got warm.

    Getting some blown-in insulation is the best thing to do, but if you can't afford that right now, at least go after the windows. Even if the walls feel cold, you're probably bleeding more heat through the windows than through the walls. The hardware store will sell you kits pretty cheap where you stretch this cellophane over the window frame, tape it down, and use a blowdryer to tighten it; that can slow down the heat loss. Besides good caulking, of course.
  9. +1 on checking around windows and doors.

    Walls can be tricky, depending on construction. Some thick layers of insulation in the attic space can really help!

    In the process of trying to get my landlord to upgrade the insulation in my flat (old tennament, probably as old as your house, stone walls (nothing can be done there) and nothing insulation-wise above the ceiling!

    The ill-fitting single glazed windows certainly dont help either!
  10. Insulate your attic, should only cost $800 or so. You want about 16-24 inches of blown insulation, that will give you between a R40 to R55 insulation value. Heat rises, you gotta keep it from rising all the way out. Snow on your roof in the winter is a good thing, it means that heat isn't getting into your attic and melting it.

  11. kulit17

    kulit17 Wal Collector #35 Supporting Member

    i'm loving all these suggestions guys!! thanks all!!!

    i have the caulk for the window treatment. just need the time to attack that project.... probably will do the cellaphane over the window frame too.

    if i have the time too, i may end up doing the blow insulation in the attic perhaps.

    with a two and half year old and a new born in the house, it doesn't look like I can do anything inside as far as reno goes since the construction dust ESPECIALLY from an old house would be hazardous. like mentioned earlier, one of three projects that hit me hard in the wallet was deleading the house...yowzers!!! anyways looks like this first winter will be a cold and expensive one....

    more suggestions if it hadn't been mentioned please!!
  12. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    surround the walls of one or two rooms with rugs, mover blankets, etc. when the Hawk gets too overbearing, put everyone in that space and camp-out.

    that's how we dues it! :cool:
  13. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Stock up on blankets.
  14. Check this out - - my Dad had this done 20yrs ago.
  15. G.Bisson


    Feb 26, 2009
    I'm interest in this too. I just moved into a 60 year old house with inadequate insulation. It's been very chilly inside this week. Already noticed the gas furnance cycling often. Not looking forward to my first winter gas bill.
    To make things worse, two additions have been built onto the house that are not heated on the central air system. One of these rooms is a sun room that was built with bare-faced brick and nothing more, and also has a thin roof with zero attic dead-air space.
    Inspecting the attic for the first time was very interesting. Apparently, one of the previous owners was an artist. Many piles of sketch books and canvas paintings were being used to insulate parts of the attic above the master bedroom (the coldest room in the house). I wonder if the artwork is worth anything so I can sell it and use the money to pay for real insulation.

    Some small cheap improvements I've already done is;
    Silicone caulking the poorly fitted single pane windows in the sun room.
    Covering the thin aluminum storm door with a heavy blanket. This door has been a huge heat loss. I hope to replace this door next year.
    Applied "medium" sized weather stripping around an exterior door of the other addition. That door is sealed so tight now that is is difficult to open (never gets used anyways). Also noticed far less bugs finding thier way into the room after applying the weather stripping.

    I've been considering covering the windows in cellophane, but don't like the look of it. I have a friend that did that in thier appartment and it made a surprising big difference. It is really cheap to do so I'll probaly install it for winter then take it down during summer when I can have the windows open again.
    Also considering blowing more insulation into the attic, but haven't looked into the costs yet.
  16. kulit17

    kulit17 Wal Collector #35 Supporting Member

    Cool vid and info.... I'll prob do the research on this more, but anyone know what the foam generally cost per sq ft?
  17. a2zbassman

    a2zbassman Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2009
    West Fargo, ND
    Let me share my knowledge/tips with you, specifically related to doing/adding insulation. My day job is Spray Foam Insulation, so I may, or may not, be of some help. The rest of the energy saving tips listed will help a bunch also.

    Note: I do spray foam only, not fiberglass work. But work closely with the fiberglass contractors in the area to have some knowledge of what's up.

    First off, please call around and get a price quote from an insulation contractor in your area before you run out and rent the machine and do the whole DIY thing. It may end up costing you less by having the pros do it. Seriously! They buy the stuff by the truckload, not off the shelf at the local Lowes/Home Depot/Menards. Plus it will save yourself a lot of hassle and itching. I hate, hate, hate working with fiberglass, and most likely you will too if you DIY it. I've also found that 9 times out of 10, in the case of doing blown in fiberglass, its cheaper to have a contractor do it for you . . . at least it is here in the midwest/ND. That may not be the case where you're at, but, my advise is call first . . . you may be pleasantly surprised.

    If you can afford to completely gut and remodel the house in the future, spray foam the walls with closed cell foam. The up front cost is gonna' seem high, but it WILL pay for itself in an average of 3 - 5 years in saved energy costs. 3" in a 2x4 stud cavity, which is most likely what you've got in a house that old, gives you a constant R-20, you can only get an R-13 using FG batting . . . and that drops in half if it is not 100% sealed up and air can flow through it.

    If you can't gut the walls, and the cavities are empty, or mostly so, look into this - Injection/Cavity fill Foam Insulation. Our company does not use this product, but a close by competitor does and has had success with it without blowing out the walls, which is what using regular spray foam would do if you tried it. *Just checked the video someone posted earlier . . . same kind of stuff. This will give you aprox an R-16 in a 2x4 wall.

    Good luck and stay warm this winter!
  18. a2zbassman

    a2zbassman Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2009
    West Fargo, ND

    Sorry, I can't tell you on this type of foam, but the closed cell foam we use goes for about $ .85 - .90 per sq ft, per inch, installed. That's Fargo, ND pricing. It may be, and probably is. higher in a larger metro area. If I had to guess, the injection system would come in at a higher price, but you wouldn't have the demo costs. But, please don't quote me on that. My advise . . . do some research and make some calls.
  19. Ziltoid

    Ziltoid I don't play bass SUSPENDED

    Apr 10, 2009
    My parents redid the insulation of their house from scratch, it cost a lot but it definitely worked. Urethane is pretty awesome. Their house is 75 years old or so.
  20. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike

    Nov 18, 2005
    You would be money ahead to start with an energy audit from a reputable company .

    They can tell you exactly where your losses are and how to correct them .

    Anything else is guesswork.

    Which makes more sense to you:
    CONSERVATION - turning your thermostat back and being uncomfortable. Maybe saving 5-10%
    ENERGY EFFICIENCY - leaving your thermostat where everyone is comfortable. Saving 30-70%

    DO THE NUMBERS! It starts with an energy audit. Go to BPI.org, or RESNET, and find an auditor near you.