Heating Season is Upon Us

I have a nice long rant about our experience with ordering that air return duct from Home Depot, to come when it finally works out, if it finally works out, but I'm going to save it until I know everything, and more notably until I have that duct in my leetle paws. Assuming that happens.

In the meantime, since we're heating the house and there's a big hole in the upstairs ceiling, we decided to get started on cutting those losses by installing more drywall upstairs. We still need to have the framing inspected, so we can't install everything, but we can cover one side of the wall.

Hallway drywall

We had some drywall in our stash of building materials, but halfway through the project we made a trip to Lowe's for some insulation (they sell the encapsulated fiberglass insulation I prefer for our leaky walls), and we picked up more drywall so we'd have a nice big piece to cut the last pieces from. In the coming weeks we will definitely be using all this drywall up, believe me.

Anyway, that's why there's a sudden transition from daylight to shoplight in the GIF.

Sealing the transom opening with plastic

We also stapled up some plastic over the transom window opening. Between the large gaps around the door and the fact that plastic has zero insulating value, this doesn't perform any miracles, but it does stop the chimney effect of sending all the household heat into the attic. I can't wait to see what it looks like in the daylight, too; it will be a real test of how effective that transom window is. (Though most of the time the door will be open, as well, once it's a finished room.)

In the next week we'd like to get at least part of the framing inspection done, as well as closing a couple permits (the pull-down ladder and the front door transom). This means making sure there is a functioning smoke detector in every bedroom and so on, which is kind of iffy here.

The thing is, our neighbors burn wood a lot and it sets off our smoke detectors, which means we spend a lot of time angrily pulling batteries out of them. Yes, this is not super safe and not in keeping with my mild paranoia about house fires. If anybody has any suggestions for different brands of detectors that aren't set off by wood smoke from outside, but are set off by wood smoke from inside, I am all ears. I'm not sure I want a less sensitive smoke alarm, but maybe that is what I want, since a little is better than none.

posted by ayse on 10/26/13


Nest has a smoke alarm that's coming out this month that's supposed to be really great. It has sensors for smoke and heat, and if it senses heat it has a verbal alert and it sends a message to your phone. If it's not a real fire you can dismiss the alert on your phone; it also has motion sensors so you can wave your hand by it to tell it there's not a real fire. You guys have really high ceilings, I assume, so I'm not sure how the hand waving would work. They're $129 each, which is not cheap for a smoke detector, but it's also a carbon monoxide detector and night light. I assume you'd never have to buy one again. I hear lots of good things about their thermostat so the smoke detector will probably be good, too.

I've looked at specs on that smoke detector, but it's a bit too expensive to replace all of ours (we'd need at least 5). You're right: our ceilings are way too high for anything that involves a hand-wave. I really need to bestir myself to spend some time studying smoke detectors beyond the hardware store package-browse.

Their thermostat is not super appealing to me, either, given that we get very similar features in our programmable thermostat already, without the training period, and I have very little need for accessing the thermostat from my phone. But if we had a 20-year-old spring thermostat, it might be worth it. The people who seem to love that thermostat just don't seem to know what's available on the market for thermostats right now. Not that I blame them; it's not exactly the most exciting thing to follow.

I know you are talking about wall insulation, but I'm curious what kind of insulation you prefer for attics? We are not about to take down any plaster walls to get insulation in there, but we definitely need to get some in our attic soon.Thanks.

It really depends on your situation, but in general for a well-sealed attic (one with no water leaks) that has good access, I would go with unfaced fiberglass batts between the joists, which even a very inexperienced person could do an a weekend with just gloves, a mask, and a sharp knife. With less good access, I would go for blown insulation.

I don't like cellulose insulation anywhere where it can get wet, which is attics. While fiberglass will fill with water in the case of a leak it won't turn into a nasty messy goo. In both cases in case of water leaks you'll need to pull the insulation out and replace it, because it pretty much won't dry in place.

If you don't need to install the stuff yourself, sprayed foam is a very good insulator, but gets pretty pricey.

If you have open eaves or possible leaks, a sprayed CLOSED-CELL foam insulation is your best bet. That is what we are going to put in when the upstairs electrical work is done.

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

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