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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Philly
    Posts
    13

    Default Handyman suggestion - is this nuts?

    I had a handyman out estimating a painting job today and he felt the exterior wall of my bedroom (plaster on brick, no insulation, 1950 construction date) and noticed it was quite cold.

    He suggested tacking up foam insulation board on the inside of the exterior bedroom walls, then drywalling over them and deepening the windowsills/reframing the radiator recesses. He claims that with a loss of only 1.5" of space on 2 walls there will be a huge improvement in comfort.

    Researching this technique ****** it appears it's mostly used in basements and crawlspaces, and I see warnings about water/mildew, fire hazards, critter infestations and other nasty things. To top it off there's an existing hot water baseboard along all of these walls that would have to be moved or finished in some odd slightly-recessed way to make this idea work.

    Is this a reasonable thing to be considering doing? Is it safe? Legal? Worth the trouble and expense? (Can 1" of insulation board even provide much R value?)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Handyman suggestion - is this nuts?

    Bite the bullet and cut a hole either outside or inside to first verify if you have insulation or not and then consider your options.

    My personal opinion is that your handyman's idea is not a good choice and that you would be better off hiring a pro to figure out your best option and filling the walls with either foam or fiber from the outside is usually the way it's done.

    -Andy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Handyman suggestion - is this nuts?

    The handy man's suggestion is actually a good alternative and is done in certain cases. It is somewhat a cost effective method.

    Attaching the foam sheets to the existing wall provides an R value of approx. 7.5 and it would be a continuious thermal break which is an advantage.

    Of course there will be the need to extend the trim work and the electrical.

    You do need to check with your local building authority if they accept this method ..... lots will.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Handyman suggestion - is this nuts?

    I have a similar situation. The oldest part of my house is cinderblock, with stucco on the outside and plaster on the inside, no insulation. I know this is the construction because some 25 years ago I undertook to spackle up a crack in the wall at the corner of a window. I kept cleaning out loose bits of plaster until I realized that I could see daylight through the crack. My dad patched the outside and I subsequently spackled the inside.

    The thing is, there *is* no place to put insulation *inside* this wall - there's no framing, no studs, just the vertical holes in the cinderblocks. And while Jackbird doesn't specify what kind of baseboard he has along this wall, mine is cast iron and seems to be bedded right into the plaster wall already. Any additional thickness added to the interior will literally leave the baseboard *recessed*.

    We've already had mildew growing on the west wall, particularly behind a couple of bookcases where the air circulation was bad. I think the wall got cold, the air behind the bookcases got cold, moisture condensed on the wall - poof, mildew. I'd be afraid that putting foamboard on the interior wall would just invite more mildew to grow on the plaster *behind* the foam where it couldn't be seen.

    I'm very interested in potential solutions to this problem, but not particularly hopeful.

    Aiken

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Handyman suggestion - is this nuts?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aiken View Post
    I have a similar situation. The oldest part of my house is cinderblock, with stucco on the outside and plaster on the inside, no insulation. I know this is the construction because some 25 years ago I undertook to spackle up a crack in the wall at the corner of a window. I kept cleaning out loose bits of plaster until I realized that I could see daylight through the crack. My dad patched the outside and I subsequently spackled the inside.

    The thing is, there *is* no place to put insulation *inside* this wall - there's no framing, no studs, just the vertical holes in the cinderblocks. And while Jackbird doesn't specify what kind of baseboard he has along this wall, mine is cast iron and seems to be bedded right into the plaster wall already. Any additional thickness added to the interior will literally leave the baseboard *recessed*.

    We've already had mildew growing on the west wall, particularly behind a couple of bookcases where the air circulation was bad. I think the wall got cold, the air behind the bookcases got cold, moisture condensed on the wall - poof, mildew. I'd be afraid that putting foamboard on the interior wall would just invite more mildew to grow on the plaster *behind* the foam where it couldn't be seen.

    I'm very interested in potential solutions to this problem, but not particularly hopeful.

    Aiken
    Why would you feel this would happen ??
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Handyman suggestion - is this nuts?

    >"I'd be afraid that putting foamboard on the interior wall >would just invite more mildew to grow on the plaster *behind* >the foam where it couldn't be seen."
    >
    >Why would you feel this would happen ??

    Well, when the wall was cold and there was limited air circulation behind the bookcases, the plaster got mildewed. If I put foam panels on the plaster, I'd have cold plaster with no air circulation at all. Granted, I suppose the foam panels *should* provide a pretty good vapor barrier to keep warm humid air away from the cold plaster, if they're installed right, and the outlets are sealed properly. Would that be enough to prevent mildew from growing on the plaster?

    Also, in this portion of my house, there is *no* space to blow *anything* in. It's a plaster-and-cement-stucco sandwich with a cinderblock filling. My guess is that the only ways to insulate would be either to slap foam board on the inside, as Jackbird's handyman suggested, and have to move or more likely replace the cast-iron baseboard as well as deal with the window trim and outlets; or to build a whole stud wall on the outside and side it and insulate *that*, and still have to deal with the windows. Granted, the second option has the advantage of permanently burying the stucco, which I hate, but both options sound scarily expensive.

    Those are the only two methods my family ever came up with, which is why we never did anything. Other ideas would be welcome, but as I said earlier I'm not optimistic.

    Aiken

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