Friday, January 31, 2014

Draft Dodger

So this home has been a thorn in my side since the get go. It has so many little and not so little issues that I get overwhelmed. I'm tempted to just bulldoze it and build a series of cob houses instead. At least I would have control over what's going on that way. Ah control. It's more of a pipe dream at this point. I am going to start out by making a cob playhouse for our daughter and go from their. I'd love to build a little cob cabin with a cob stove and everything. One thing I have way more than I need of is red clay. You don't even have to dig for it, it's all right there! Difficult, sticky when wet, hard to grow grass on, clay.
I've scouted out where my first attempt at growing will be. A sunny patch just to the right of the fence. It's a south western facing plot. While digging the soil samples though I kept hitting gravel. Was this a drive way at some point? Out to the barn perhaps? Is this why the grass here is so scrubby? Hmmm. Do I need to find a better plot? It's a 10 acre tract, but it's anything but flat. The land is either going up or down. Same goes for the house. It's folding in have over the main sill beam like a Salvador Dhali clock.
So what am I to do? I need to go into the scary crawl space and see just how terrible the foundation and under belly of the home is. It need to be cleaned and sealed. But that cost money. We have a moisture issue for sure. There's mold in the attic near the eves and at the roof top above the chimney. It's kind of a mess if you ask me. Just sloppy construction, and even sloppier renovation work. I mean, if you're going to go through the trouble of a reno, why not do it right? Yes, I am an idealist, it's why I'm so miserable, but I'm right.
Today I decided to investigate some of the drafty spots in the house that have been driving me nuts. There's a lot of cold are coming out from the bottom of the cabinets on the north wall, and cold air literally blowing out of the outlets on that wall. I tried outlet insulators, they help some. I tried putting some expand foam in the gaps at the bottom of the cabinet, but that didn't do much. I notices a hole in the outer wall near an electrical box and put foam in it. I think that helped the outlet draft. I found it weird that the cabinets are drafty when in front of that outer wall ins the furnace house which covers 3/4 of the outside wall, as it's own building. I peaked inside the furnace house and looked around. I did see two large openings into the homes outer wall to accommodate the ductwork for the furnace. Perhaps this is my culprit? I need foam board in the worst way.
Another drafty place was the kitchen window facing south. It's a tall window, about six feet high, almost from floor to ceiling. I noticed there was a lot of cold air on the floor by it. So I tried stuffing draft foam into the gap between the window and the sill. It was still really draft. I tried putting a rolled up towel on the ledge. Still drafty. So I finally look at it from the outside, now that the ground is dry. I see the issue. Missing siding? WTF? The siding moves down at an angle and creates a large opening into the exterior wall and window unit. Maybe this is the issue. I get my expand foam and seal it up. Now, it's not 20 degrees out like last night, but about 30, but I think I'm noticing a big improvement. It's still cool under the window, particularly where the wall corner is next to it. I've noticed that the floor is molding at that corner too. It's also molding by the draft cabinet bottoms. I think these spots are more of an issue coming from the crawlspace than the outer walls. I'm not sure though. There are moldy, or dry hollow and crunchy boards throughout this tiny home.
Now you can't give me, "It's an old home argument" I've lived in older homes. This home was built, or somewhat thrown together, hand hewn rafters and all, in 1943. I lived in a house from 1920 in Milwaukee and it was beautiful. The original floors on the first floor didn't have a single gap. The floors where level, no sloping, and they didn't creak. The windows where original on the first floor and need some of the ropes replaced in a couple units. It also still had it's original built buffet with leaded glass doors, and beautiful stained glass piano windows.
So what's the difference? Oak floors versus this sift pine? I swear if I so much as drop a pillow on the floor the wood gets a dent in it! Maybe it is the oak. What is the frame of the Milwaukee house made of? Oak or pine? Good question. I can tell you this house is pine, pine, pine. What am I going to do with these floors? every board has a gap. What a pain. I read on This Old House to use jute rope as a filler since it will allow contraction in the summer. You know, when all that warm moist air comes up from the crawlspace.

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