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topaz 11-26-2011 09:05 AM

short term winterizing
I purchased an early 60's home in a cold climate (northern canada) with an unfinished basement. It was renovated in the 90's, to a vinyl siding with 1" polystyrene underneath. The interior walls are plaster board over 1/2" gypsum (no, really), and, at best, 2" faced batts on exterior walls. There is ~4 feet of uninsulated concrete above grade.

We are looking to redo the exterior in the spring to a 2" polystyrene, house wrap, new vinyl, as well as extending the polystyrene down the concrete to 24" below grade with parging or something similar overtop. One 'unique' feature of this house is that the floor joists are set directly into the concrete.

This house is cold. I mean, it's really cold. And it hasn't even gotten cold yet. :)

I am looking for advice on how to temporarily keep (at least some) cold at bay. We have already added 6" of Roxul R22 to the attic for a total of 12" up there. I have not laid insulation batts across the centre beam of the attic. We have removed the old oil burning monstrosity of a furnace and installed a HE gas furnace, but it seems to kick on all the time, even though it's barely below freezing at the moment.

- should I add batts on the attic beam?
- should I insulate the 4' of exposed concrete from the outside with polystyrene and tuck tape it, knowing I can't excavate/seal/parge it correctly until the spring?
- should I insulate interior basement walls? My local building code recommends tar paper, spacer, stud wall with insulation, and vapour barrier.
- should I remove interior plaster/drywall and re-insulate?
- should I do something that I haven't thought of?

I have many options, I'm just trying to weight the best long term one, ie., least waste, most impact. I'm not sure if my neighbours would appreciate seeing 4' of pink or blue staring at them all winter, but to be honest, I'd rather be warm than thought well of in the short term. ;)

joecaption 11-26-2011 02:08 PM

Good luck with this one. In your area there should have been a min. of R30 in the walls if there 6' walls and R13 if there 2 X 4 walls, and R30 under the house and R50 in the attic.
Just 1" under the house is about worthless.
And how old are the windows in this house?
If there older single paned windows that's just money flying out the windows.

topaz 11-26-2011 05:16 PM

the windows were also replaced in 90's, double paned.

any suggestions besides 'good luck'?

joecaption 11-26-2011 07:44 PM

Any chance of some pictures?
It scares me when you say the floor joist are set in concrete. That would be a huge no no, that's a sure way to get the wood to rot.
Insulating the outside of the foundation will do little good, the house envelope needs to be sealed and insulated before that gets done.
How do you know for sure what's behind the walls? Have you taken it down to see?
You mention using thicker foam on the outside, not the best plan, all the trim around all the windows and doors would be a nightmare to redo, you would be lucky just to find someone willing to do it that way, the best way would be to insulate from the inside. Remove the wall board seal up any holes where plumbing and plumbing run through the top and bottom plates and add R19 or 13 depending on how thick your walls are.
Adding R 19 under the house with the paper facing the floors would also help a lot. While under the house shoot foam in any holes you find where elect. and plumbing are run.
Why was the center of the attic not covered while you were up there?
Some utility companys, citys or even the state will come out for free and do an energy audit. May want to look into that.
Have you checked the caulking around those windows on the outside?
Check around the doors for air leaks, if there old wooden doors there's bound to be air gaps that can be sealed up.

Wuzzat? 10-08-2012 05:10 PM

Rent/buy an IR meter that can correct for the emissivity of various surfaces and scan all the exterior surfaces to see where the heat is being conducted out.

Try to close off air infiltration sites by pressuring your house slightly with a strong fan and using a smoke source.

"Dead (unmoving) air" is a decent insulator and maybe somebody makes insulating balloons in the shape of air mattresses for this temporary purpose.

How many input BTUH is your furnace, what fraction of the time is it on at what outside windless temperature, how many sq. ft. is the house?
The worst house I've heard of is 11 BTU per square foot per heating degree day, the best is about 2.

joecaption 10-09-2012 10:11 AM

Ofsheldon, go back and add your own post, no way to know who's talking to who if you just add to someone elses post.

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