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Vapor Barrier

November 20, 2012 |
posted by Ana White

Man are we ever getting close to that day.

For those of you who are new here, that day is the day when we have the Momplex full insulated, and it doesn't matter if it's -50 degrees outside, if the wind is blowing 80 MPH, if it's snowing . . . even if it's freezing rain. That day is the day we can work without -100 below boots and three layers of down. That day is the day we can work without gloves, when batteries can charge, and tools still work.

It's going to be a big day for us!

That day also is the day we get to officially start on the interior. Because today, and all the days up to it, even if we have been inside, sure don't feel like we are working inside.

Vapor Barrier

We've got the electrical boxes in the ceiling, and all other utilities needed to be run through the ceiling installed. Wires have been run. The ceiling itself has been blocked as needed for hanging drywall. It is FINALLY time to finish off the roof!

Today is vapor barrier day.

Now before I get into this process, know that ever climate and type of building requires different insulating and moisture control. Case in point - our walls are ICF and no vapor barrier is required. So check with your local codes and find out what works in your climate for controlling moisture.

Where we live in Alaska, this is what happens if you don't have a vapor barrier in your ceiling or your vapor barrier is installed improperly:

Moisture builds up inside your house just by living in it (showering or boiling water can put cups of water into your house!). The moist air escapes the house through the ceiling and becomes frost in your attic when it meets -40 below air in the attic. The frost builds up through the winter. When spring comes, the frost melts, and the water saturates your insulation, and drips through your ceiling into your house, creating water damage and mold problems.

Vapor barrier is a good thing!

Vapor Barrier

But here's the problem. When you put the vapor barrier up with staples, the stapled holes create opportunities for the moisture to escape through the ceiling. You can go back and tape the stapled holes, but then when you put drywall up and screw it on, you've got more holes in your vapor barrier.

I know this isn't a huge issue in other climate, but up here where half of the year it's winter, and on a winter day, there can be a 120 degree temperature difference between the inside and outside of your home (yes, it can be 70 degrees inside and -50 outside), you'll start seeing every single screw hole in your ceiling building up frost.

So what we do is put this tar stuff up on the studs in the ceiling.

Vapor Barrier

This stuff never dries. It's like bubble gum that never dries. It is awful stuff. Do not get it on your shoes or in your hair, it will never come out.

Vapor Barrier

The tar stuff gets applied to all the ceiling studs.

Vapor Barrier

And it drips down, creating landmines of tar on the floor. I'm really careful to not let this stuff drip on my hair - having my hair washed in gasoline or the like doesn't sound like a good day at the spa.

Vapor Barrier

For the vapor barrier, we roll it out on the floor.

Vapor Barrier

And cut it to length with a utility knife.

Vapor Barrier

Then the vapor barrier is spread out in the big room.

Vapor Barrier

And brought into the room it will be installed.

Vapor Barrier

Careful not to get tar on it!

Vapor Barrier

Then you put the vapor barrier over your head.

Vapor Barrier

Climb up the ladder

Vapor Barrier

And start stapling it up. You want to pull tight here and do a neat job. We start in one corner and work our way to the other.

Vapor Barrier

It gets stapled to the studs in the roof, over the tar stuff.

Vapor Barrier

And then all the way over to the other corner.

Now we can trim off excess.

You just use a utility knife to trim it off, leaving a few inches or so to overlap the walls.

I know this seems like a fairly simple task, but everything is so much harder when you are working over your head on a ladder.  And the Momplex roof is two houses in one - about 2000 square feet.  So it definitely was quite a task getting her done!

With the vapor barrier complete, what does that leave us with?

Yep, we get to hang drywall next!

And after drywall, we will blow in insulation and the Momplex will be fully insulated!  That day is so close!

posted by Ana White

Well, it's that time again.

Time to start cutting holes in the Momplex, and blocking off wasted square footage behind walls.

At least this time, we've got a pretty good reason.

We are creating a secret escape passage.

That once a year can be used by a strange man in the middle of the night to climb down into your house while you are sleeping.

Yep, it's chimney time! That smoke's gotta escape somehow!

Installing the Chimney

We've tackled alot of projects. And there's certainly been alot of googling and youtubing and we even have code books stacked up inside the Momplex for referencing.

But this is one of the first times I've seen instruction manuals come with building materials.

Installing the Chimney

They say cut a big hole in the floor.

Installing the Chimney

We cut a big hole in the floor.

Installing the Chimney

Hello down there!

Would make a great laundry chute ... if the laundry was not already upstairs.

Installing the Chimney

Then we build an H shaped thing out of wood.

Installing the Chimney

And it get's placed in the ceiling.

We actually put one of these in the floor too.

Installing the Chimney

See it? The pipe will go up through these two squares and through the roof.

Installing the Chimney

The hole is only drilled in one side of the Momplex because we decided that we are only putting one boiler in. Both units have to be heated all the time. If one unit froze up, it would freeze water lines on both sides.

Not only does sharing a boiler save a ton of money, it saves a ton of space. The chimney takes up a side of the smaller bedroom closet.

Installing the Chimney

It gets framed off - and there's nothing we can do about the wasted space on either side.

Installing the Chimney

The closet is still plenty big - bigger than any closet in my house! And this is the guest bedroom, so we aren't too stressed about the lost space.

Fairest way to decide which unit goes to which mom?

We'll have to do a grandkid count.

Siblings, better get busy.

We don't count. Our kids belong to both grandmas.

Installing the Chimney

Now that we've got our chimney placement, it's time to start putting the pieces in. It's kind of like a jigsaw puzzle where you do the outsides first and fill in inbetween.

Here's the top where it goes through the upstairs ceiling.

Installing the Chimney

And the basement top. We had to drywall this one because the ceiling is exposed here.

Installing the Chimney

Now those in between pieces .... hmmmm ...

Installing the Chimney

Oh, right! There's a manual with this installation!

Installing the Chimney

Okay, that goes there ... but wait a second, it just sits in there?

Somethin's not right here ....

Now that's better ...

This piece actually goes in in the event of fire.  Ashes would drip in this tray, and give you a little more time before the floor catches on fire.  Not that that's ever going to happen, but just in case.

And now we can start putting the pipes together.

The pipes just get stacked on top of each other.

Each joint gets a special ring that is screwed tight to keep the pipes together.

And then up through the ceiling collar it goes

And then out the roof.

And above the roof.

For something designed to keep a house warm, of course it needs a hat and boot.

The temperatures are dropping pretty fast up here in Alaska, with some nights as cold as -30 degrees below zero, without wind chill.  It's pretty comforting to know that when we put a heat source in, the chimney's there to take the smoke away.

With the chimney in ... are we really down to just putting vapor barrier up, hanging the upstairs ceiling drywall, and blowing insulation in?  Is it really happening????

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