Another Day Down Under

I seem to spend a great deal of my home-renovation time under the house. It started with removing the scary 2-wire extension cords which had been strung underneath the house to provide power to equally scary looking clamp-on light fixtures. It then progressed to removing random debris (like four metal fenceposts, each with its 50 pound concrete footing still attached), hanging bicycles, and installing the sump "system" after the rains kicked in last year. (The previous owner set up a series of hooks and nails and twine to hold the sump pump, hose, and drain pipe in place. When he showed it to me the first time, it looked like some extravagant Rube-Goldberg device.) The penultimate crawlspace task was installing three new 15A circuits to service the lights and outlets in the front two parlors.

Yesterday's crawlspace work was particularly unpleasant.

It's been very cold this winter season, so we've been fantasizing about under-the-floor insulation a lot. Fantasy has turned slowly into reality: before the holidays, I actually measured the joist bays and found a store that sold the right kind of insulation. The bays are of varying widths, meaning that we couldn't just buy some off-the-shelf, standard width insulation, though. Instead, we need non-encapsulated batts so they can be cut to size before installation.

Installation. First, cut the batt to the appropriate width (quick, painless). Second, cut those spring steel supporting wires to the correct width (ruin several hand-tools trying to do this, then burn through several Dremel cut-off wheels). Third, slide the batt into place (avoiding, of course, the exposed knob-and-tube wiring, the rusty water main, and the galvanized and somewhat leaky natural gas supply line). Important: DO NOT LOOK UP AT THE BATT AS YOU ARE CROUCHED UNDER IT TRYING TO PUSH IT INTO PLACE. Doing so will almost certainly result in terrible eye pain followed by a long string of expletives. Fourth, push spring steel supporting wires into place to hold batt in place.

We did get a system going after a while. It only took a few hours to install 9 batts. Now the upstairs front parlor is significantly warmer and much less drafty than it was. Hopefully the rest of the installation will be a lot faster...

posted by noel on 02/01/04