Monthly Archives: October 2006

Update on insulation

My insulation piece yesterday generated some questions so I thought perhaps I would get more detailed here. There are a ton of great resources available on the web and I’ll try to compile a few here as well as inform you from my experience.

First things first-rebates

One rebate I mention is a sale that Lowe’s is having currently where they will give you a $100 gift card if you spend $300 on insulation. Each household is eligible for 2 gift cards. The sale goes on until 11/29. (Their site is down so I can’t provide you a link to their site but it was in their adsheet.)

I also mention the energy tax credits. This is part of the recent energy bill that was passed into being and exists for 2006 and 2007. The cost of your energy efficient upgrades can count on your income tax statement as a tax credit. (This credit doesn’t approach the billions that oil companies get while they are extracting billions in profits from consumers, but it’s a start) It applies to energy star rated items, like insulation, windows, doors, etc. Click here for more info and make sure to ask your tax person.

One other place you can check for rebates on energy efficiency upgrades is your local utility. My local utilities give out plenty of rebates, which I have used plenty of times. Check with your local company to see what they offer.

The thing to remember is which company will appreciate your efficiency gains and check with that company. A new natural gas furnace or water heater would be the gas company. But a new A/C or fridge would be the electric company. For things like windows, doors and insulation you’ll have to check each to see who covers it, if you have more than one company like we do here in Iowa.

Second things second–installation

I had a plethora of questions asked about installing the insulation. I hadn’t thought about installation questions in my previous post because I’ve seen so many This Old House, HomeTime and other home improvement shows that this is old hat to me. (Between those shows and the History Channel it’s a wonder I got any studying done in college) But it’s not old hat to everyone and I should remember that. So here goes. This is what I know about insulation, which may or may not be right, because I’m no expert, that is for sure. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the chance to slid that in there)

Vapor Barrier
If you are insulating a room you need to pay attention to the vapor barrier issue. If you are insulating a space that doesn’t have any insulation currently then you want to buy insulation that has a vapor barrier. Install the vapor barrier towards the living space portion of the house. The vapor barrier is supposed to keep the moisture in the house to prevent water from condensing in the insulation and ruining it, and your walls.

If you are placing additional insulation into a space (like an attic) where insulation already exists you want to use unfaced insulation because adding an additional vapor barrier to the insulation is unnecessary (the original insulation should have a barrier). If for some reason the original insulation doesn’t have a barrier you don’t want to install new stuff on top with a barrier that will cause water to condense at the barrier on the new insulation. Water is bad news for just about everything related to a house.

Installing insulation
If you want to add more insulation to existing insulation you can buy unfaced insulation and just put it over the top of the old insulation. There is no need to remove the old stuff. It’s that simple.

Additionally, you want to make sure to buy insulation that fits the space you are placing it in. If you are doing an attic this isn’t as critical because, in theory, you have unlimited space towards the attic space and you can buy the thickest you want. But for a wall it is critical because you don’t want to compress the insulation. If you compress the insulation it will lose it’s insulating properties. So if you have a 2×4 wall use R-11 or R-13. If it’s 2×6 use R-19. Don’t shove R-19 into a 2×4 space because you’re just wasting your money. The airiness of insulation is what causes it to be insulating and if you compress the insulation it won’t be airy anymore.

For example, check out the picture to the right. This is a picture of our upstairs living space. We have a story and a half house and when we bought it we ripped down the wallboard to insulate this space. (Unfortunately we ran out of money for dr10-30-06.jpgywall…but that worked out well for this picture…2 years later…)

What you see here is R-13 (white stuff) installed in the areas that are 2x4s, basically the walls and the ceiling. The brown paper insulation is R-39 which is installed in the kneewall areas where there is sufficient room available for the insulation. Behind the kneewall is the attic space that acts as the ceiling for the downstairs living areas. Between the joists I installed R-39 as well.

All the home improvement stores have huge charts up that will show you want to use for your area of the country and for the type of space you are trying to fill.

Another thing to remember is air flow. If you are installing insulation into a cavity that is on the underside of a roof you want to either install baffles for air to flow behind the insulation, or leave the insulation out far enough that air can flow under the roof between the insulation and the bottom of the roof. This air flow cools the roof and keeps your shingles from getting cooked on hot days. It extends the life of your shingles by at least twice what you can expect with no air flow. Here is an example of what I mean.


Air infiltration
You can insulate until the cows come home, but if you don’t keep the warm and cold air where you want them you aren’t going to get ahead much. So, when you are insulating a space make sure to look for any holes that poke through the area and fill the holes with caulk or insulating spray foam to stop the air leaks. Plumbing pipes, electrical pipes and vent pipes are common culprits. Insulate (or caulk) around the pipe first to stop the air leak by plugging the gap between the wood and the pipe. Then cover the area with insulation to stop the temperature passage from the outside wall.
(Click here for example pics from the manufacturer)

They call this stuff Great Stuff and it really is great stuff.


Honestly, that’s all there is to know. Installing insulation is easy. Usually people try to make it seem harder than it is, which is a normal human tendency, but the basics aren’t hard at all.

I have some links below that can help you out even more.

This Old House (great site)


Simply Insulate (also great)


Bob Vila aint’ got nothing on me

Well, I finally insulated the attic above our family room. I’ve always felt that this space probably wasn’t insulated and I was right. It basically had no insulation in it. Well I fixed that. (With help from my wife and kids who helped me measure the pieces and then hand them up to me when I was wedged into the attic)

Here are the stats:

Insulation installed:R-50 (2 layers of R-25) for 14 rolls. (I bought 20 and have 6 leftover which I’m going to use to insulate the rim joist area of my basement.)

Money spent: $320 for 20 rolls. (with a $100 gift card coming back from Lowe’s for spending over $300 on insulation, so really $220.  And don’t forget that insulation costs are eligible for a tax credit when you do your taxes this year.  Ask your tax person.)

Hours spent: Approximately 6 total hours spread across 4 people.

Power tools used: 1 (I had to cut an access panel in the ceiling with the reciprocating saw.)

If was incredibly easy.  If you have been hesitant to do something like this don’t be.  The home improvement centers have easy directions on how to do it (or the internet) and it is fairly inexpensive.  You’ll notice the comfort change immediately and just feel better about yourself afterwards.

Here are some pics.

Insulation stored in my screen porch.






On being patriotic…

I’m not an especially patriotic person.  I’m patriotic enough, but I’m not the kind of person who you will see protesting gregarious uses of the flag or making sure to hang my flag out on certain days.  But I do think that there is a certain amount of respect that people need to show towards their country.  It’s really not the country itself that I think they should respect, but all the efforts of all the great leaders, and brave heros from our history that the flag represents.  Obviously one representation of this is the national anthem sung before sporting events.

Personally I like the national anthem being sung before games, although most of the time it is overly dramatic and I think disrespectful in the way it’s presented.  But there are a few things that I can’t stand when the national anthem is being sung.

At the end of the song don’t end with “…and the home of the (insert home team name here).”  I can’t stand that.  At all.  It is one of the few things that actually makes me want to punch someone right in the face.  I have mostly only noticed this occurring at professional sports, and mostly football games, for some reason.  But I can’t think of anything more disrespectful to our history than this.  It’s like you can’t even get through the whole song before you let you love for artificial sports idols override your civic pride.  Although it does sound really gnarly when 80,000 (well, 79,999) people all say it at the same time, but the teams should come up with a song that they can twist to have this happen, not the national anthem.

Take off your freaking hat.  Amazingly this doesn’t seem to happen every single time.  The percentage is pretty high, but anything less than 100% is not high enough.  If one of my kids left their hat on during the national anthem I can promise you they will feel my hand against the back of their head.  And I think that is plenty justified.  You just don’t do that.  It’s kind of like going into a unisex bathroom and taking care of business and then leaving it without cleaning up any sprinkling that may have occurred (as a man).  You just don’t do that either.  It’s disrespectful.

I also can’t stand it when people eat during the national anthem.  Yes, this does happen.  I stood next to a jackass at a hockey game two Saturdays ago who was eating his sandwich during the anthem.  I’m actually still shocked that this happened.  There aren’t too many people in America who can’t stand to wait a few minutes for a meal, regardless of how hungry they are.

At least he took off this hat first.


Leaves, leaves everywhere leaves…

Been super busy lately. Working a lot, helping people move, been sick and working on some home improvements. I should start getting some home improvements finished this weekend so stay tuned. Until then here are some beautiful pictures.


This is what the bed of a truck looks like when you jam three yardys full of leaves into it and smash them down with an empty trash can.


Here’s a pic of our corn stove doing triple duty. It’s heating our house (it’s a nice 69 degrees right now), it’s drying our clothes and it’s also drying some jalapenos. You can barely see them as little hanging things to the right of the very interesting sweater. I think I might be in trouble for that ending up on the WWW for all to see.

How about it readers? Feel like trying the 100 Mile Thanksgiving?


Tag out at schools?

Say what?

You know, I was the fat kid when I was growing up and I was never very fast. But it didn’t turn me into a wimp and make me not want to play games like tag. I still played. I just had to use my brain a little more to catch the fast ones.

And when I got way too slow to play then I moved on to other sports that didn’t require a lot of speed. Baseball, football & tetherball all come to mind.

With all the obesity in our society some things need to change. I very highly doubt it will be the food system (which is too bad) so why take away the other side of the teeter totter and get rid of exercise? Taking away gym class and recess is already bad enough. Now tag?

You know what this smacks of to me? People who aren’t willing to sack up and be parents. You know what? Maybe you’re kid is slow and isn’t very good at tag, but so what? Go outside and do other things with them so they can develop other interests. Teach them that it’s OK to do things for fun even if they aren’t the best at it. Having fun with what you’re doing is more important than being the best tag player, or the best soccer player or the best person on the monkey bars. If you have fun why does it matter?

Turn off the TV, get involved with your kids and be a freaking parent.


Corn delivery

We had our first batch of corn delivered yesterday. I thought you might enjoy some pictures of the big event.


This is a pic of the truck that delivers the corn. It has a boom arm that you can see behind it that we position over the barrels and the corn comes through that and down into our barrels.


This is a picture of the corn guy, PJ, lining up the auger. I like to stand around PJ when he’s here. He makes me feel small, which doesn’t happen very often.


Here’s a picture of my best side doing what I do best, watching. PJ’s doing all the work. Except you don’t see me lugging the 600 lb containers back into the garage for storage.


Picture of the loose corn in a yardy.


Here is all the corn. We only had 2500 pounds delivered this time. But it filled up 4 yardys and half of one trash can.


And here is a picture of the beautiful flame warming up our house. Having a corn stove in the basement is awesome. The floors are always warm and we can heat the house up much more easily than with the furnace.

If you ask me, corn stoves are a lot better use for corn than feeding them to cattle or making ethanol out of them.


Winter cycling

Now that the temperatures outside are starting to cool down you can say it’s about time to put the bicycle away for the winter. Well, you can say that, but I say Heck No! My favorite cycling time of the year is fall, winter and spring. I can’t stand the heat and humidity of the summer months. If you feel like being adventurous keep the bike out longer this winter and see how you feel. I think you’ll enjoy it. I have some helpful tips for you. You’ll need to make some adjustments, but I bet you already have all the things you’ll need.

To read more click here.

I would solicit comments on the GG site from you bikers so that others may be better informed.