Insulation preparation

Another milestone that I never thought would happen is all but done–the preparations for insulation. This involves netting and strapping all of our exterior walls and ceilings as well as any interior walls we want to sound/fire proof. This process has taken about a week and a half and we will begin blowing insulation tomorrow.

One of the more complicated aspects of this job is the exterior ceiling. Before we were able to begin we needed to work with our local building inspectors who didn’t think that using Typar in the roof was allowed by code. Eventually, we got an engineer to provide us with a stamped diagram of the assembly. The assembly itself is fairly complicated to execute because we wanted to create a solid air-vapor barrier below the cellulose and we are using two different ceiling materials. In the master bedroom and hallway we are using tongue and groove knotty pine, while the third floor, the bathroom, and the closet will be sheet-rocked. The vapor-air barrier behind the pine will be a cross-laced polyethylene plastic called Tu-Tuf (a superior plastic available through EFI.org); the sheet rock will be the air barrier elsewhere and it will be treated with a vapor barrier primer. Making sure that the air-vapor barrier is continuous across the top plates of the partition walls is the challenging part. This involves using acoustical sealant behind the Tu-Tuf, sheet-rock, and strapping so they all seal to the top plates. The acoustical sealant is desirable because it never hardens. So when one installs the sheetrock it can just compress the sealant that may have been applied the day before.

Netting and strapping first floor west wall

Netting and strapping first floor west wall. We are really starting to get a feel for the actual space in the house--much smaller and cozier.

Netting and strapping first floor living room

Netting and strapping first floor living room. The ceiling, which is below the master bedroom will also be insulated for sound proofing.

Our Uptight insulators installing Typar in the roof

Uptight Insulators installing Typar in the roof

Using Typar to create a ventilation plane below the sheathing of the roof

Using Typar to create a ventilation plane below the sheathing of the roof. In the bottom left hand corner you can also see that we used white styrofoam packaging for insulation.

Adam installing bedroom ceiling tongue and groove boards

Adam installing bedroom ceiling tongue and groove boards.

Tongue and groove knotty pine boards used for ceiling

Tongue and groove knotty pine boards used for the ceiling in the upstairs hall. We really like the look. After finding out that a white wash stain was $54 a gallon we figured out how to make our own at a fraction of the cost. We combined our white exterior solid stain with water at a ratio of 1:1. Voila, semi-solid white-wash stain at $20 a gallon. You can see the Tu-Tuf vapor-air barrier hanging down on the right. When doing this type of installation you want to leave a generous flap so it is easy to use the acoustical sealant behind it.

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Solar hot water piping runs and pressure test

Over the last couple of weeks I have installed the solar hot water piping runs from the third floor drain-back tank room to the mechanical room on the first floor. The drain back tank is on the third floor in its own little mechanical room to improve the electrical efficiency of the system. The pump has to work harder to restart the system after it has drained back and the shorter the distance between the drain back tank and the panels the less the pump has to work.
Installing the pipes was quite easy with the help of my plumber’s ProPress. Rather than soldering all of the fittings this tool–along with its associated specialized fittings uses rubber O-rings and compression to make a seal.

Third floor drain back tank room

Third floor drain back tank room

Drain back tank

Here is our drain back tank.

Solar hot water pipe run under third floor stairs

Solar hot water pipe run under third floor stairs. The aren't parallel because I ran out of soft copper. I was creating 60 degree bends whereas you can only purchase 45 and 90 fittings. We had the soft copper for use in the area where the pipe ran through the roof insulation--this way we avoided any fittings in an area that we don't want to ever have to disassemble.

Solar hot water pipe runs along the first floor ceiling heading to the mechanical room

Solar hot water pipe runs along the first floor ceiling heading to the mechanical room.

Solar hot water pressure test

Before we take down the staging to the solar hot water panels or cover any of the pipes with insulation, we wanted to make sure there were no leaks. We capped off one end and put this gauge/schrader valve combination on the other. The panel loop held 80 psi for several days (an hour would have sufficed). It was neat to see it oscillate between 70 psi at night and 80 during the day.