Snow day!

Last week Matt finished installing our final new window, so we now have a full set!  They are fantastic, and we’ll tell you more about them soon.  Yesterday I used the Great Stuff low-expanding foam to insulate between the window frames and the rough openings. Here it is curing, yet to be trimmed (easily done with a razor blade or a serrated knife).

I had already done four windows a few weeks ago, but was waiting on the final window to do the last batch.  The cans of foam are pretty much one-time-use since the foam will cure in the straw and block it, so it seems more efficient to do several windows at once.  Boy does that insulation make a big difference.  It was getting cold outside and some condensation was forming on the inside of the nailing fins.  I could even feel a cold breeze coming in around the edges of the window frames.  After the insulation, no more cold air!  It was just in the nick of time.  We woke up this morning to this:

Wilbur was the first one outside to check it out.  He loves it!

Early in the day we had maybe an inch of snow on the ground.  Seattle doesn’t usually get snow that sticks, so this is pretty exciting for us. 

Amazingly, it stayed cold all day and the snow kept falling.  We ended up with a few inches of fluffy, dry snow.  Here it is piled up on the fence and sticking to the old picture window.


Rob knocked on the door and invited us to come play outside with several of the neighbors.  We had a blast making a 6 foot tall snowman.  “With a corncob pipe coffee bean mouth and a button mustard bottle nose and two eyes made out of coal beer cans.”  Classic.  Oh and his neck tie is made of a piece of old wiring we recently pulled out of the wall.

Rob is hoping it will get on the news.  Several people gave us the thumbs up as they drove by at 5 mph.  Now we are warm and cozy in our mostly insulated house.  Even in the middle of winter, it is uncommon for the temperature to drop below freezing here, but it will be in the 20s and maybe even the teens this Thanksgiving week.  I’m so glad we got the house buttoned up just in time.


A New Jacket: the Insulation/Windows/Siding Project (Part II).

The West Wall

On my second section, the west wall, I realized that strategically removing the sheathing made putting it back on much easier and didn’t impede insulating.  I made marks on the top and bottom rungs of sheathing to mark the left edge of studs (of course I didn’t develop a good system to translate these onto the house wrap so I’m going to have to figure out something when I go to put up the siding because it needs to be attached by nails that anchor in studs).

The South Wall

Interesting, the builders used the foundation forms for sheathing the house.  I thought about replacing it all but it would have been a waste of good wood, increased costs significantly, and required way more effort than reusing the old.  We decided to decrease the height of the left window opening so that cabinets and countertop in the kitchen could someday wrap under the window.

I Tyvek over the window openings and then cut them out later.  Proper shingling for all flashing and house wrap is critical.  I start at the bottom and work my way up.  I used “sticky icky” or adhesive flashing under the aluminum flashing beneath the fascia at the roofline to make sure that water can’t seep in beside the electro-galvanized roofing nails I attach the aluminum with.  Using proper nails for the application is important.  Plain galvanized nails are good for exterior work but react with aluminum.  Common nails are used to attach the sheathing but need to be protected from water (a la housewrap and siding).


A New Jacket: the Insulation/Windows/Siding Project.

We’re deep into this project now.  Originally we were just going to replace our single-pane aluminum windows by cutting around them and kluging together a weatherizing solution.  Trim was going to replace siding around the perimeter of the windows.  But pretty much the day I was going to dive in, my subconscious thoughts must have decided to revolt and I proceeded to spend the day convincing Kelly it was time to actually insulate our house, replace the siding, and weatherize the windows properly.  I didn’t have to do much of a sell because I think Kelly had already concluded this was the best good option (at least she wanted me to pull off the siding to get the weatherization right).  For me, I was really looking forward to not creating lead dust everywhere. 

Here are some shots from early on.

Despite being outdated, the siding on the N/W/E walls was all in pretty good shape with the exception of the bit above the garage (not shown).  The south-side was looking pretty bad (darn, not sure if I have a picture of that).

Edit: I found a pic of the south exterior wall.  The siding everywhere else looked much better, but I’m still excited about having all new siding (and no brick on the front)!  -Kelly

I finally caved on tearing down the brick wall. Kelly always wanted it gone but it took some convincing for me to commit.  But once I did, the big pry bar and wheel barrow helped me make short work of it. 

And once I had it piled up in the front yard, it was practically just the next day by which Kelly had found a Freecycler to take it off our hands. Once I had the siding and builder’s paper off I popped out the window and covered it with plastic sheeting inside and out.  Later I decided that removing the soffit would allow me to really weatherize the windows properly.

Then I removed small sections of the sheathing.  I quickly realized I didn’t need to take each rung off in order to insulate.  But before insulating, it was clear that this was a great opportunity to decommission old outlets in the exterior wall and run wire for new ones.

Insulating went pretty smoothly.  The insulation came encased in plastic which serves as a vapor barrier.  For bays between studs that are 16” on center it’s a snap to get it in.  Smaller bays necessitate some trimming down of the pieces (there’s a better word I can’t think of right now) so that the insulation is a couple of inches wider than the bay.  My neighbor lent me a nail gun and compressor which made putting the sheathing back on go quickly.

Tomorrow I’ll get a shot of this wall with the new window and weather barrier/housewrap (Tyvek) on and will provide a good opportunity to get into the prepwork details that must be addressed before for the siding goes on.