Foam and Baffles

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Mom to Mom, I just want to say thank you for all the positive comments to the girls on their Momplex Video Tour! You totally made their day! The girls were jumping up and down squealing "they like our video, they like our video!" as I read your comments to them, and are busy planning more videos! 

 Did you notice inside the Momplex that we actually are closer than you'd think? Alot of this has to do with building with ARXX blocks - we skipped five steps in one! But there's still tons and tons of work to be done. First up, we've got to start sealing the Momplex in!

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Momplex: 
Step 1 Diagram: 
Step 1: 
You've probably already noticed the huge gaps and cracks in the Momplex. Mom certainly has, and commented on how she doesn't like drafts. Well we are going to take care of that today! Now remember, not only are we trying to get our Mom's a new house to live in, but we are also building super insulated to keep heat bills down. Getting these cracks filled is very important to keep Mom warm and not broke! Some people in Alaska pay upwards of $1000 a month to heat their homes in winter months!
Step 2 Diagram: 
Step 2 Instructions: 
Spray foam works great for sealing in cracks and gaps. It just sprays in.
Step 3 Diagram: 
Step 3 Instructions: 
We've invested in a spray gun so you can turn it off when you need to without spoiling a whole can.
Step 4 Diagram: 
Step 4 Instructions: 
Every inch of the Momplex is inspected and filled with spray foam where needed.
Step 5 Diagram: 
Step 5 Instructions: 
We especially don't forget the <a href="http://www.arxx.com" target="_blank">ARXX blocks</a> to<a href="http://ana-white.com/2011/12/momplex/top-plates-hard-way" target="_blank"> top plate joint</a> - heat rises, and this would be a big spot for heat to sneak outside.
Step 6 Diagram: 
Step 6 Instructions: 
And of course, windows are spray foamed too.
Step 7 Diagram: 
Step 7 Instructions: 
And then you let the spray foam dry.
Step 8 Diagram: 
Step 8 Instructions: 
<p>But what to do with the excess foam?</p><br /><p><img src="http://ana-white.com/sites/default/files/spray foam doors windows21.jpg" alt="" /></p><p></p><p>We find a handsaw works best.</p>
Step 9 Diagram: 
Step 9 Instructions: 
The dried foam cuts easily off, flush with the wall. Another trick is to use a sharp, thin bladed knife. <i>So that's why my shoulder was aching that day! Not from the handsaw.</i>
Step 10 Diagram: 
Step 10 Instructions: 
<p>And you are left with a nice clean window!</p><p></p><p><img src="http://ana-white.com/sites/default/files/spray foam doors windows20.jpg " alt="" /></p><p></p><p></p><p>And a nice big mess!</p><p></p>
Step 11 Diagram: 
Step 11: 
After spray foaming all of the gaps and cracks, there's still the open eaves at the truss ends. We've got to put something in there to keep the blow in insulation in place.
Step 12 Diagram: 
Step 12: 
You want your roof to breathe through the sofits, so whatever we put in, has to hold the blow in insulation inside the roof.
Step 13 Diagram: 
Step 13: 
We start by cutting a bunch of blocking and placing the "blocking kits" in between each truss.
Step 14 Diagram: 
Step 14: 
The blocking kits are nailed in place with a piece of plywood covering.
Step 15 Diagram: 
Step 15: 
<p>But the plywood isn't enough. &nbsp;Come a good wind, the blow in insulation will just fill up those sofits!</p><p><br /></p><p><img src="http://ana-white.com/sites/default/files/spray foam doors windows12.jpg" style="width: 470px; " alt="" /><br /></p><p><br /></p><p>You can buy foam baffles specifically designed for this application for less than a buck each.</p><br /><p><img src="http://ana-white.com/sites/default/files/spray foam doors windows17.jpg" style="width: 470px; " alt="" /><br /></p><p><br /></p><p>And they just get stapled in place.</p><p><br /></p><p>NOTE: You actually don't need the plywood blocking for these foam baffles, but with the high winds up at the Momplex, we opted to put them in. &nbsp;Cheap insurance.</p><p><br /></p><p><img src="http://ana-white.com/sites/default/files/spray foam doors windows15.jpg" style="width: 470px; " alt="" /><br /></p><p><br /></p><p>The baffles went up really fast!&nbsp;</p><p><br /></p><p>Now we are one step closer to getting the Momplex fully insulated!</p><p><br /></p><p>What's left?</p><p><br /></p><p>- Vent Pipes in ceiling (done deal - will be blogging about in few days!)</p><p>- Plumbing Pipes for vents in ceiling (done deal too!)</p><p>- Electrical Boxes in ceiling with wire run to switches (still working on wiring)</p><p>- Vapor Barrier on ceiling</p><p>- Drywall hung on ceiling</p><p>- Insulation blown in ceiling</p><p>- Garage doors installed (happening right now!)</p><p><br /></p><p>I feel pretty good about getting at least one Mom moved in by this year!&nbsp;</p><p><br /></p><p>So how do you insulate where you live? &nbsp;Is insulating for hot weather the same as cold weather? &nbsp;Have you used the baffles? &nbsp;Do they hold up? &nbsp;We'd love to know!</p>

Comments

The momplex looks amazing... my best friend moved from TX to AK about 2 years ago. I often think that if we ever made the move too AK we would rent just long enough to build our own home too. From what I hear, spray foam isn't good for hot + humid areas (especially in the humid.deathlythick.hotair of Houston) or so says my dad who is usually right. So happy to hear 1of 2 moms might be able to move in this year! That's a big accomplishment for a family that is building a home in their extra time!

Best wishes and happy building!

Reading your posts (and I love them! The girls are so cute!), I'm really glad I live in a temperate zone. We're currently going through the process of building two houses here in Auckland, New Zealand, and we don't have half the need for insulation that you do.

Recent law changes now require that all new houses have double glazing installed, but until a few years ago, this wasn't necessary, so no-one got it. It did lead to some cold nights, but nothing compared to what Alaska can deliver. It very seldom goes below freezing here, and if it does, it won't go below about 25F (no snow!).

New home insulation here usually consists of sheets of pink batts (glass-wool, non-flammable, about 3-4" thick - www.pinkbatts.co.nz), or spray-in fibre-glass for walls and ceiling and double glazing on all windows. And whatever the external cladding is - usually 1" thick wood or plaster board. That's enough to make it nice and warm, or keep it cool.

Oh, many homes have brick walls (as we do) that help too, but that's not even close to a majority.

I live just outside of Seattle, so it's pretty temperate and not too extream(either hot or cold) but we do get a lot of wind, moisture along with some fires and earthquakes. We used spray foam in insulation for our addition. Some guys came out and sprayed the attic crawl space and 24 hours later was dry. It's fire, mold/mildew and insect resistanct and has twice the R-value per inch than traditional pink insulation. Its awesome stuff!

"Is insulating for hot weather the same as cold weather?"

Pretty much - what works to keep heat in also keeps heat outside. Lots of attic insulation to keep heat from the roof away from the ceilings (they turn onto huge radiant heat panels, otherwise). Wall insulation for the same reason.

Shade screens to keep sun from getting in and turning into heat.

Caulk and foam the cracks to keep that expensive air-conditioning cool air inside.

Okay, insulation may have been the topic but I just couldn't focus on those orange bits when there were so many gorgeous window views to be distracted by.

WOW! Oh I wish!

Would greatly love some indulgent out-the-window pics. Did you position the house purposely, or is it (as I suspect) just impossible to get a bad view in that neck of the woods?

I live in Michigan, where we get the heat and the cold, thankfully we don't usually get the heat for too long (this summer, much of the time we were hotter than Florida).

The building code here is similar for how the insulation needs to be installed, but experience has shown that a significant portion of the construction in this area doesn't meet code; doesn't even make a pretense of trying to meet it. We didn't have enough insulation or the baffles in our house. We did find a local contractor who's entire business is fixing the deficiencies in insulation and window quality. You know business is good when your contractor shows up in a BMW instead of a pickup.

I have really enjoyed following the momplex progress. In south Texas we have heat issues. Our home is 2x6 framing with stone and stucco on the outside. We have a standing seam metal roof ( for capturing rain water) with a ridge vent system. Two summers ago we added more fiberglass blown insulation to our attic. They used the same type baffles to keep it from blocking the soffits, however, ours was nailed towards the bottom of the rafter, leaving more space between the roof and insulation than yours showed. We also had a reflective coating applied to the attic roof to prevent the heat from absorbing into the attic space. It has reduced our electric bill significantly. We get temps in the teens sometimes, but our temps fluxuate greatly except july and august which stay between 95-105 consistently. Our problems occur when we get an Ice storm because most of our electric lines are above ground. we use spray foam to seal windows and doors and foam gaskets around plugs on outside walls,but we also have small vents to help the house breath and we put screens in those to keep the bugs out during the summer and close them up in the winter. Best to you on your finish out, I can only imagine how hard it is to maintain 60 degrees in an alaskan winter to mud and paint. Do you have to put a heater in the room you are working in or do you just wait until summer?

Wonderful progress! So nice to hear the girls were excited! I hope they do some update videos!

I only remember some of the insultation process in the "stick built" HFH homes I helped build. It was the local HFH's first multiple build and first time doing Energy Efficient Certified homes.

First the outer sheath went up over the frame. The next two items I don't remember the order - tyvek wrap and foam board. All seams on the foam board were taped with duct tape! Then the siding (vinyl). From the inside we filled any and all gaps on the sheathing with some type of caulk stuff. All outer walls insulated with the pink batting stuff and then the sheetrock.

For the inside of the attic & 2nd floor ceilings & down the steep pitch of the front roof, the foam channels like yours went up, then many, many rolls of the pink fiberglass-type insulation (don't recall rating) throughout the ceilings. Then sheetrock.

Where the soffits are is actually storage space and foam boarded/insulated on the walls/ceilings. The bedroom closets actually are built in front of that providing more insulation/blocking. Hard to explain.

What I do know is that my energy bills are quite low compared to other homes in our area in southeast Connecticut where one winter can be 10 or below for too long and the next year can be "mild" (32) most of the time. A good year is 3 tanks of oil, a rough year is 4 and one of those tanks lasts from May to Oct/Nov. That rocks!

Because the homes were built to be certified as Energy Efficient, all I do is keep the shades down during a hot summer and it will stay 10-15 degrees cooler in the house making it easier for AC window units to quickly & efficiently cool it down. During winter, I keep the heat at 65 and it is almost always warm enough (99% of the time).

All that said, I'd love to install a wood/pellet/coal stove to reduce heating oil costs even more! Though not as expensive as AK for sure, CT is way too high on utility costs...and everything else!

Ciao!

Guerrina

In terms of cold weather insulation and baffles. We just converted our attic into living spaces and went from R-12 pink batting insulation to blown-in just about R40. New construction ceiling is supposed to be R50 around here to meet code. We couldn't go any higher because of the way the building was built 60 yrs ago. (We still met code because it was a reno).
Anyways, love reading your posts and checking out the new plans.

Hooray for moving inside! I love following along with you, and am cheering you on from Central Vermont. Where i live, it can get to -40F in the winter. Not as bad as there, but I can imagine.
When renovating, we had a professional spray closed-cell foam insulation on the walls and under the roof when renovating a large part of the building to improve insulation and tighten the envelope. Unfortunately, no plans were made for exchange of moist interior air for dry exterior air in the winter *BIG MISTAKE!* Because the house was so tight, it was basically as if you had a steamy small bathroom with no exhaust fan - mildew city. Several friends have had similar problems using closed cell insulation with untreated wood around windows mildewing, etc. At our place, the addition of a cracked slab and some ground water seepage led to mushrooms growing up from the floor boards. Horrific. Anyway, i'm betting you knew all that, but in case it's helpful, a place to start to figure out what you need for exchanges per hour might be
www.energystar.gov/ia/home.../home.../ES_HS_Spec_v1_0b.pdf
And I'm betting you know about air exchange systems that exchange heat as well so you don't pay to heat it and then pump it out. Just thought I'd mention it, since it seemed to be such a new concern in our neck of the woods that the contractor who supervised the renovation was caught completely off guard when the problems arose. (Old, drafty houses don't have the same issues.)
Anyway, can't wait to see finished wall pics!
P.S. My two favorite sheetrocking tools to share are 1) handy mark drywall marker (to mark electrical boxes in their exact correct location) - Amazon sells them and 2) a drywall lift for the ceilings. I got one delivered free from overstock. Best money i ever spent. Happy hammering!

I just love your momplex posts! I check every day hoping for an update, it is just so fun to watch a house come together step-by-step.