Friday, February 10, 2012

Home Maintenance Triple Whammy

I've known for a long time (well, since I bought the house almost 20 years ago) that the insulation in the attic spaces was woefully inadequate.  The house was built in 1972 and the two roofs only have about 3" - 4" of insulation between the joists that has compressed over the years (from dust and settling) to the point where we are losing a tremendous amount of energy.  It's estimated (by some mythical government agency that I can't verify - but it sounds right) that 42% of a house's energy loss is through the roof.  I've looked into doing it myself, but the roof pitch is extremely shallow I have about 3 feet of head room) and there are very small openings to get into the spaces.  The old body just can't do it any more.

So I had an Owens-Corning distributor come in and he talked me into adding 17" of cellulose attic insulation (R-49 rating) and soffit vents.  I want to see how they're going to get the vents in because there is very little room because of the shallow pitch.  They estimate that doing this will lower my utility bill by 20% - 25%, with a payback of about 3 years - we'll see.  I have so little insulation now that it has to save me money.  How much is the question.  This happened 2 weeks ago and is scheduled for this Friday.

This is basically what they will do in my attic (illustration).  That roof pitch is pretty much what my roof pitch is.  Getting in between each rafter with a soffit vent is why I'm not doing it.

This is another illustration of the soffit vents.  Note that this guy has plenty of room because the roof pitch is twice what mine is.

This is not my attic, but is what it should look like when it's done.  They will put these gauges at different points in the space to make sure the insulation is spread evenly. 
Monday I started noticing our Kenmore Elite refrigerator was making gurgling noises after the compressor shut off.  Sometimes that's an indication of low freon or the evaporator is freezing up.  This is one of the few items in my house that has an extended warranty, so The Mrs. scheduled a maintenance guy to come this Friday.

We had our garage doors and one of the openers replaced about 2 months ago (again, I'm too old to do that hard labor crap).  Last week the opener started making a grinding noise from the drive motor.  I went through all of the troubleshooting checks in the manual and couldn't figure it out.  So after multiple calls to Home Depot, I finally am getting the installation contractor to come out and take a look at it - this Friday. 

Triple Whammy!  Contractor party at my house!

And to top it all off, if I can get these guys out of the house by 3:15PM, I will be able to attend our first meeting ever with the principal of The Pudge's middle school (otherwise The Mrs. will have to go it alone).  We got his report card last Friday and he failed math.  We don't fault The Pudge at all on this - it's a teacher problem.   We are now hearing from multiple parents that had problems with this teacher last year (thanks for the heads up).  The Pudge has never gotten anything lower than a "B" on his report card - ever.  I think that will be a post for another time.

And then there's the weekend...


sparringK9 said...

Makes sense about the insulation - and they pay back is way faster than say, solar energy which takes about 25 years to recoup your initial investment. I have muy home improvement have-tos on my punch list as well. my roof is way too far apart rafters and a tin roof. no decking. just tin. at least your insulation isnt loaded with rat snake skins, and hanta virus pellets. rejoice, Buzz.

poor pudge. bringing home that card must have been terrible for him.

Karl said...

Good morning Buzz Kill,

Those foam vents make installation much easier than it used to be. When I was in high school I worked for a builder, we would use 1/4" plywood for the baffle. You would lay on your belly on a piece of 1/2" plywood and use a broomstick with hook on the end to pull back the fiberglass mat. The hot itchy work when it was warm. Still you could get into some very narrow spaces that way. Not only will it pay for itself, but the house will likely feel more comfortable as soon as it's done.

You did check to make sure the condensers clean on the refrigerator right?

Sorry you have to go to the principal's office. In all you described about Pudge he seems to squared away to be the problem.

After the day you're having you and the Mrs. should stop on the way home for an early dinner and blow the foam off a few. If you have any money left that is.

Enjoy the rest your weekend.

Jenny said...

The collective warranty went out on our house two years ago and we replaced the dishwasher, stove and refrigerator in a three month period.

Good luck with your Pudge. I'm sure he's grateful you're both behind him on this. That kind of support is good parenting. My brother was a T.A. when h in graduate school and gave a test the entire class failed. He blamed himself. For not teaching properly and for writing a bad test. Good Luck.

Is all of this related to the remodel? Or does it just get bigger and bigger and bigger......

Pam said...

Don't get me started on teachers. It is a sore subject. The home maintenance is a bear though. It can't be one thing at a time ... NOoooooo. It has to be everything at once. Maybe there will be a long respite between now and when you have to start remodeling the remodel. :) Happy weekend Buzzy and family!

Aunty Belle said...

I recall readin' that Louisa May Alcott said, "Housekeeping ain't no joke." Neither is House Maintenance. Sorry fer yore woes.

On Pudge--It's a great time fer him to know:

1) teachers is humans who can an do make mistakes--so be yore own best advocate/ check an recheck--it's YORE transcript.

2) that Mama an Daddy are his advocates when any other authority misfires.

3) how a parent is to proceed in such cases, so when PUDGE is a Daddy he'll know what to do.

Please keep us posted on what the principle said/ did.

Sharon Rudd said...

Sorry to hear about your triple whammy. Kinda like when all the lightbulbs seem to burn out at my house at the same time, or I run out of all my paper products at the same time, only on a larger and more costly scale. Good for you for bringing in contractors, though. Best to admit when a project is more than you’re up for. Good luck straightening things out at the Pudge’s school, and hope you’re able to enjoy your weekend.

moi said...

In my most cynical of moments, I've often wondered if the whole "American Dream" of home ownership isn't one of the best scams going. Because it is just so much WORK!

We're facing several home "improvement" projects ourselves, including needing to replace all the carpet in one section of the house. The area isn't that large—we have stained concrete and tile everywhere except in the back bedrooms—but it's where both our home offices are and, oy, the thought of moving all the desks and filing cabinets, etc. has me head-achy already.

So much so, that I'm beginning to look at new houses in the area. You know, move, give the buyers a seller's allowance for carpet and paint and be done with it :o)

Good luck with your contractor's party. Will you be serving cocktails and finger food?

Buzz Kill said...

Look for a post later this week where all will be revealed - mostly.

We have mice, and that's about it. I would love to do solar but we don't get much sunlight and (in my opinion) the technology is still a couple of decades away from making home installation really feasible. That's one reason why the president's energy plan is laughable.

The Pudge did fine as I'll explain later.

The foam vents are easier but still tough to get in. They had to staple them to the underside of the roof.

I did not check the condenser because I'm lazy and have an extended waranty. I let the refer guy do that - and it wasn't very dirty.

We took The Pudge and went to a local Don Pablos for dinner.

None of this is related to the remodel. The insulation came up when we went to the local home show in January (I'll never do that again) and Owens Corning had a "special" offer. I'm not complaining. We had a real cold snap Saturday and Sunday and I noticed the heater was not cycling as much as usual, so I think it's paying for itself already. And whether it's psychological or not, The Mrs. feels warmer, so that's a plus.

There's never a respite in my life.

House maintenance is more important than house keeping. And The Pudge's grades weren't a mistake per say. That will be explained later.

The older I get, the more I'm in touch with my limitations.

In 6 or 7 months we will pay off the mortgage (except for the 2nd mortgage we took for the remodel job). And the value of the house, even in this economy, has doubled in the 20 years we've owned it. I think home ownership is the real deal. Now property taxes - there's the scam (is $10K per year too much?).

I couldn't talk The Mrs. into looking at a new house instead of putting an addition on and you're looking at new houses because of carpet and paint? I'll never understand women.

I gave the contractors some sodas.

moi said...

Oh, you don't know what lengths I'll go to to avoid the sound of jackhammers, table saws, and mariachi music.

Unfortunately, my spousal unit is the voice of reason. We stay here. Carpet gets replaced in April.

Congrats on paying off your mortgage. That's a battle won. But $10,000 a year in property tax? Seriously? That's not excessive, that's criminal.

Clinton Morphew said...

It looks like that this is going to be a successful one since you have some contractors to help you. I’m interested about that illustration regarding your attic. The functionality of each part will make the room better and with pleasant ventilation.

Unknown said...

How long did it take for everything to settle down? I know how frustrating it is to live in a house that wasn't properly maintained. It's always better to address the issues early than be sorry in the future. All the best!

Marvin Scott @ Crown Strata

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