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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    6

    Default Insulating a small old farm cottage

    Part of the property I'm looking at is a small, old farm cottage, built in the early 1900s. We just did the house inspection today, and there's NO insulation in any of the walls, or the ceiling.
    It'll be a rental, so I don't want to pay for foam, or removing siding/plasterboard but if there's something fairly easy and cost effective, I think it should get done.

    The ceiling looks easy enough to fix, the attic is pretty accessible and either fiberglass batts or blown in cellulose or whatever looks like it'd work.

    The walls are what I'm wondering about. It looks like balloon framing from what I can see, so my first thought was just to blow in something from the top and have it settle down. However ... it looks like there's no vapor barrier, and one can see little chinks of light between the clapboard siding when looking from the inside of the endcap attic wall.

    Presumably cellulose would go moldy? Is something like fiberglass OK, or is that a recipe for disaster too? It doesn't look damp in there, but at the very least, it'll get damp summer air in there (NW New Jersey).

    I guess the ceiling (and all the single pane windows with air gaps) are the biggest issue, but if there's a fairly cheap and easy fix for the walls, it seems like I should fix them.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Southern Ontario Canada
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Insulating a small old farm cottage

    Is it your intention to heat and cool this cottage or rent spring through fall without HVAC?

    Not knowing it's age I'm presuming it's getting up there. Look for a layer of 25# felt behind the exterior wall. Common to post war cottages and used as a vapour barrier. Then blown in cellulose is an option unless hurricane bracing or cross bracing prevents the material from reaching the bottom of the void.

    The attraction of a rustic cottage to urban et. all renters is enhanced by loading the wood stove to take the morning chill off and opening a few windows to let a breeze blow through on a hot afternoon.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,419

    Default Re: Insulating a small old farm cottage

    If you don't have to insulate the walls to bring them up to code in order to rent it, then I would leave the walls alone. An uninsulated wall will actually have an R value of around R4 or R5 depending on the exterior sheathing. You could blow in cellulose and that will bring it up to around R-10 or R-11. Not much bang for the buck.

    An uninsulated attic has only an R1 so you should put something up there, then take care of the windows and doors with weatherstripping. These two things will have a big ROI, after that the POI diminishes rapidly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    455

    Default Re: Insulating a small old farm cottage

    How is it that an uninsulated wall has r4 - r5 value and and uninsulated attic has a R1 value ? Something doesn't jive.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Insulating a small old farm cottage

    Cottage dates back to early 1900s at least, probably built before that, and modified from a farm workshop in the 1800s.

    There appears to be no sheathing, or tar paper, just clapboards hung on the studs. I'm going by the gable end in the attic that I can see into (and down into the walls from there).

    There's a fairly modern oil furnace central heating system in there, and a tenant who lives there through the winter. I'm amazed they haven't pressured the previous landlord to insulate it, or just done it themselves, but I suspect they don't even know ... some people just don't understand these things I guess.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,419

    Default Re: Insulating a small old farm cottage

    Quote Originally Posted by bsum1 View Post
    How is it that an uninsulated wall has r4 - r5 value and and uninsulated attic has a R1 value ? Something doesn't jive.
    Yes it does, there just isn't enough space here to explain it. You might look at some references in your local library. One book in particular is called From the Walls In by Charles Wing.

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