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24 Answers

Best way to have a wood fireplace?

We are building a custom house, and are nearing our final planning stages before bids with our architect. We are planning to have a wood fireplace on the ground floor, within the building envelope. When it is burning, it will likely to burned with any glass doors on the fireplace open, for aesthetic reasons. It is only going to be used as a heat source as an occasional backup. What are the best ways to minimize the energy problems of an wood fireplace? It'll probably be a zero-clearance type of fireplace. My husband will not agree to a gas or wood stove, so don't even suggest it!

Asked By Clara Kim | Feb 22 15
14 Answers

General questions re: building in Zone 7

Long time reader, first question...(I apologize in advance for length).

I will be building in the next year or so, this is my 5th home I have had built and have managed all my previous builds, so I know a LITTLE about building, but not even close to a professional. I live on the very Southern edge of Zone 7 in Central Minnesota (in fact, Zone 6 boundary is about 2 miles South of me). We have some hot, humid days in the summer, but obviously heating in winter is much more intense.

Asked By Brad VanVickle | Feb 14 15
3 Answers

I'm converting a barn to a residence

The slab is not insulated, and there are no below-grade details beyond the posts that support the structure. My architect is resistant to insulating on top of the slab. He worries that if I don't leech heat into the soil...

The slab is 64' x 46', and 4" thick. The central section was tapered toward center drains, so we have some leveling to do. We are in zone 5, I believe, and temperatures have recently dropped to -18F, though that is unusually cold. My concerns are comfort as well as avoiding condensation that might degrade floor coverings and encourage mold growth.

Asked By Dean McCracken | Feb 25 15
2 Answers

Buying a house and want to make it super efficient. I have some concerns about the attic. Can you help?

I am about to close on a house that was built in 1972. It is in Longview, Texas. It is 2100 sq. ft. The garage was made into living space at an unknown date. Has a 3.5 ton central air unit and electric furnace for heat (inspector said that is too small and likely was in place before the garage was converted). Flex type ducting in the attic. My goal is to eventually do the entire place from top to bottom, as I can afford it, and make it cheap to heat and cool. I have several plans in mind. Insulation of the attic I think will be my first step.

Asked By Sam Vail | Feb 26 15
4 Answers

What happens to inward drying assemblies after a dozen coats of paint?

I'm just curious what happens to the assemblies after a house has been lived in, repainted, sold repainted, turned into a rental (lots of re painting), etc. you get the idea. I've only read about permeability after a few coats of paint and want to know expert opinion about if this can lead to future disaster.

Also, has anyone measured the permeability of GWB with a covering primer like Kilz that is shellac based?

Finally, how does the permeability of thin veneer plaster compare to level four drywall or skip troweled drywall mud?

Asked By Rick Van Handel | Feb 25 15
6 Answers

Insulating and air sealing kneewalls

Hi,

I recently bought a house, and over the last few months have figured a number of issues with the insulation in the knee walls. A few notes about the house:
*In MN (Climate Zone 6, almost 7).
* ~20 years old
*Built with a poly vapor barrier on the inside behind the drywall
*2x6 framing, currently no sheathing on the attic side, R-19 fiberglass is currently in the kneewalls
*Only way into attic is through a 24x30 opening
*Due to the architecture of the house, I have many knee walls, ranging from 7.5', 4', and two that progressively get shorter as you go down a scissor truss.

Asked By Ross A | Feb 22 15
10 Answers

Questions on a "not-so-deep" retrofit...

Minneapolis
1948 mid century/ranch, stucco exterior
Wood shaving insulation with paper face stapled to framing
2 layers of (I believe) "plasterboard" 3/8" over 5/8" = 1" total
Kitchen renovation found no evidence of moisture in the ceiling or walls, removed wood shaving insulation and replaced with R-19 batt (regrettably but can't undo now)
Polyethylene vapor barrier on interior side of renovated walls (insulation code official laughed when I said that I expected him to closely scrutinize the vapor barrier and he said, "There are so many holes in this old house [windows and doors], this r

Asked By Justin Merkovich | Feb 19 15
1 Answer

Insulating an old home

working on an old house, removed lathe down to the studs and the outside clapboard siding. There was no sheathing so what is exposed is the horizontal clap board siding. What is your recommendation for insulating the outside walls. Is it possible to use foam insulation (closed cell or open cell foam) directly against the siding or do I need some kind of air space between? If an air space, would15# black felt paper against siding be sufficient? the back side of the siding has never been painted. Siding is pine and 140 years old. Would appreciate any input.

Asked By John Conway | Feb 24 15
1 Answer

Flash and batt in northern Iowa

We have a new post-and-beam home. We've put in 3" of ccSPF in the walls and are thinking at adding R-13 kraft-faced batts over this in the loft. Because of the way the exterior walks are framed, there is 2" of spray foam between the interior studs and the exterior sheathing, except at the posts and beams. Is there going to be a potential moisture problem with using the faced batts?

Asked By New House | Feb 23 15
4 Answers

Insulation help needed?

I am in the process of building a house and thought I had a good plan for insulating, but want to know if I can do better. My current method I planned on using will pass code, but i figured if I can increase R-value effectively, why not. Better to do it now. I live in zone 4a. We have hot summers and fairly cold winters.

1 story
2x6 construction
Vinyl siding
Tyvek house wrap
Osb sheathing
Fiberglass or denim batts in stud cavities for R-value of 21.
Drywall
Have a full basement, will be unfinished for awhile.
Attic will have like R 50 blown fiberglass

Asked By Nick Lynn | Feb 21 15
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