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59 Answers

While I love radiators, I hate using fossil fuels

I live in an 1890 Victorian in Southern Pennsylvania, heated by oil. While I love radiators, I hate using fossil fuels! Is there a way to use green technology to use less oil? My methods to date have been uncomfortable - installing a wood stove.

Is there a way of boosting the boiler with green energy? Would geothermal help? I'm newly divorced and ignorant about systems!
Thanks, Susan

Asked By Susan Hanway | Aug 28 16
0 Answers

Sun Bandit Solar Water Heater

Hello. I was reading the article by Martin Holladay entitled "Solar Thermal is Really, Really Dead" and enjoyed the discussions going back and forth on the topic of solar water heating methods. I am planning on building a small 600sq' SIP cabin in the area of Nelson BC (climate zone 6) next year and I found this product listed as being one of the most efficient for heating domestic hot water on the Canada Energy Guide site. It says it can also be used for space heating via a radiant floor system or perhaps radiators.


Asked By Scott Wilson | Oct 21 16
16 Answers

Best building envelope approach for an owner-built home in northern Wisconsin?

Setting the Stage:

My wife and I purchased a vacant farm (no buildings) with a south-slope in far Northern Wisconsin and have been planning our next home for a few months. We would like to build a "pretty good house" that finds that happy place between great energy efficiency and economy. This would be an owner-built home on a basement foundation. Our forest has plenty of millable pine and oak that we intend to use as much as possible for the build (framing, siding, flooring, etc.).

Asked By Michael Sterner | Oct 17 16
7 Answers

Concrete floor caulking is failing... why and how to fix?

My polished concrete floors are about a year old. Now I see that the caulking the contractor laid in the seams is starting to crack and split (see photo). The splitting appears to be occurring more often in the part of the floor that gets sunshine.

Anyone know why this is failing so soon? Was the wrong material and/or technique used? What is the fix? Thanks.

Port Townsend WA

Asked By Steve Hengeveld | Oct 21 16
5 Answers

Garage and root cellar insulation

I received a call from my mechanical engineer today asking me how I planned to insulate the garage and root cellar ceilings. Both rooms are in the basement and above those ceilings are first floor living spaces. I told him my plan is to dense pack them with cellulose and probably add an inch of Polyiso covered with a layer of gypsum to break the thermal bridge and satisfy fire code. I was planning on insulating the rim joists with a couple of inches of ccSF on the inside, the only area in the house with the nasty stuff, mineral wool on the outside, and then dense pack would fill the bays.

Asked By Jonathan Lawrence CZ 4A New Jersey | Oct 19 16
11 Answers

Bottom edge of rigid foam on basement wall

I'm going about installing 2" or 3" of XPS 4x8 sheets on my basement walls and then installing 1x3 firring strips across the top. I'm wondering if I should bring the foam all the way to the basement floor, or leave a gap and fill the gap with expanding foam. My vote is the first method, but I think maybe the gap with expanding foam may be a tighter seal.

Asked By Nicholas C | Oct 18 16
12 Answers

Unventilated, highly insulated roof — replacing shingles

We are replacing the shingles on a cathedral roof.

The roof has been insulated from the inside. 8 inches of expanded polystyrene below the roof deck including cut and cobble between the rafters, and 4+ inches of additional eps and mineral wool below that.

The roof is not ventilated.

The shingles will be asphalt.

From what I have read, asphalt shingle roofs are not water or vapor permeable, so using a permeable underlayment will not provide a benefit, because vapor will still not be able to dry through the shingles.

Two questions.

Asked By Sharon Secrist | Oct 20 16
4 Answers

Replace fiberglass batts with cellulose or just add more insulation on top?

I have a great room attached off our main house in Central Massachusetts. I'm not sure what it is called, but its got normal walls for about 10 feet, then cathedral walls angled up for another 5, and then flat across the top for 10 feet or so. I'm pretty sure the room could use more insulation on the top, but I'm waffling on the best way to do it.

The Facts:

Asked By Bill Bertera | Oct 21 16
5 Answers

Taped Zipwall or sheathing with Ice & Water Shield on a REMOTE/PERSIST roof?

So any thoughts on what is better or more practical?

I'm getting ready to start sheathing a roof (which will have all of it's insulation outboard of the WRB and sheathing, with a cold roof on top). It is a R-66 EPS roof.

On one part of the project (a separate building, same construction technique (REMOTE/PERSIST), we used barnboard, then 1/4" plywood (to hide the ice & water shield above it) from showing through any knots or such from below (exposed cathedral ceiling), then R-66 of EPS above, with 2x4 furring and then plywood and then metal roof.

Asked By Brad Hardie | Oct 20 16
1 Answer

Zola window screen mounts... anyone found a fix?

While my Zola windows seem to be performing well (at the one year mark), the window screen mounts can only be described as "unusable". In fact they can damage the window seals and window surrounds when used as supplied by the manufacturer. So I'm looking for a workaround!

Is there a homeowner or window contractor out there with that's found a way to mount Zola screens without damaging the windows (see the issues list below)?

Thanks in advance for any leads or parts sources!

Port Townsend WA

Zola screen mounts have several design flaws:

Asked By Steve Hengeveld | Oct 21 16
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