Saturday, August 02, 2008

A Run in the middle of a Big Project

(With Fourplay playing in the background)

I am in the middle of a large project that I have dreaded for over two years - insulating the walls of my humble abode.
But I will be VERY HAPPEE when it is done.
And so will my utility bill.

As I have stated in past entries, my little house was built around 1964 and was equipped with very little insulation in the attic and none in the walls.
The previous owners added about eight inches of loose fiberglass insulation to the attic at some time in the more recent past.
But none was installed in the walls.

To add insulation to existing walls there are three choices -
1) remove either the inside or outside layer of wall covering and install the new insulation, or
2) drill holes in the inside wall covering and blow loose fiber insulation into the wall cavities, or
3) drill holes in the inside wall covering and pump foam insulation into the wall cavities.

Number one is complicated and expensive, but easier/more reasonable if done at the same time as one is replacing old exterior wall covering.
I am not doing that.
Over half of the exterior of my house is brick.
I am not messing with that.
And I am not brave/strong enough to tackle the removal of all the sheetrock on my exterior walls (and then installing the new insulation and installing all new sheetrock, finishing it and repainting it all).

Number two is the easiest and least expensive but I distrust fiber insulation.
It is subject to incomplete filling, settling over time, and failure because of moisture transfer.
So, no to number two.

That leaves number three.
Urethane foam is the most expensive of a couple of types of foam insulation.
But it has almost twice the insulating ability of fiber insulation.
(3.5 inches of fiberglass insulation has an R-value of about 13.
3.5 inches of Urethane foam insulation has an R-value of about 23.)
This is good.

And, unlike number two, it expands to fill whatever cavity it is put in, it does not settle, does not absorb moisture, and seals the cavity against air transfer.
That is the good news.
The bad news?
Like I said, it is expensive.
And like number two, it requires drilling two two-inch holes in each stud space.

I hate working with sheetrock.
Sheetrock is nice once it is installed, finished, painted and left alone.
Working with it is messy.
Sheetrock is basically filtered mud smashed between two layers of heavy paper.
Kept dry inside the paper, everything is fine.
Cut the paper and your problems begin.
The dried mud inside the paper turns into a nice, fine powder that falls on the floor or carpet or floats through the air and settles on EVERYTHING.
Including your clothes.
Including your lungs.
And your eyes.

I have drilled about 62 two-inch holes in my exterior walls for this project.
About half of them have been filled and refinished (in my gym room and bathroom).
Now the holes have been drilled in the kitchen, living room, and my bedroom.
Drilling every single hole threw dust into the air, on the floor, on me.
To limit the disaster and the following cleanup, I covered the walls, floor and furniture with plastic.
I have gotten good at this.
But I know that months from now I will still come across some places where there is a nice, thin layer of fine white powder.

While I originally feared spraying the foam as the messy part of this project, it has turned out to be less messy than the drilling.
So much so that after I drill the holes I take the plastic down (carefully!), ball it up - dusty side in - and throw it away.

The foam will come off walls and hard floors with just a light scrape.
Carpet needs to be covered with plastic but I only need a strip about two feet wide.
Once the foam dries (about one hour) it will pull off the plastic with no effort.

So today was spray day.
The plan was to keep spraying until I had all the walls filled.
In the manner that concrete slabs are poured, once you start, you stay at it until it is done.
It took two-and-a-half hours to use up all of my foam and fill all of my stud spaces.
The amount came out almost perfectly.

That was the good news.
The bad news is me.
I am exhausted.
All the drilling yesterday left me tired. (mainly my back)
Today is Saturday.
Saturday is my running day.
When it is running day, I run.
And today I ran.


I knew I was tired from the hole-drilling marathon Friday.
So my expectations were low for the 4.5 mile session.
But I intended to do the whole 4.5 miles.
No shortcuts.
At the top of Hill One, accelerated breathing kicked in for a couple of minutes.
No surprises there.
Half way up Hill Two, accelerated breathing kicked in again.
This lasted for four or five minutes.
Mile two and three went smoothly and I slogged along wondering when I would fall apart.

It happened early in mile four.
I was feeling reelee tired and was already at level three breathing.
Wimp requested a two minute walk to recoup for the Big Ending.
Permission was granted by Running Central because of the extended effort yesterday and the anticipated effort later today.
So I walked for a couple of minutes.
Then I started running again.
I finished the course in just over forty minutes.
I was amazed.
And tired.
And pleased.
I had finished the long course. (with just a short wimp walk)

When the foaming is done, and the holes in the sheetrock are filled/finished (next week), then I get to repaint the house (sometime soon).


My bedroom is to become two shades of blue (three walls light blue, one wall deeper blue).
My gym will become a pastel red-orange.
My kitchen will become a light yellow-gold.
And the living room will become two shades of orange-gold (three walls of the lighter shade, one wall a deeper shade).

This two-tone color scheme is borrowed from IBM.
I visited an IBM facility many years ago in my industrial career and their offices and conference rooms had an unusual color scheme.
Three walls had a neutral light-gray/beige shade and the fourth wall was bright blue or red or yellow or green - depending on the room.
I never forgot it.
So I am going to try it here.

Campmeeting pictures coming. (reelee!)

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