Sunday, January 3, 2010

Completed Projects

Well, if you can believe it, I finally managed to get that darn skirt around the chimney frame, and I think it may have made a difference. I still need to go up and fill the wire holes with foam, but the big source of heat loss may very well have been addressed. First, a little background.

As I may have mentioned, we were experiencing significant heat loss in our attic, mainly through the frame around the chimney. I could feel the heat rising up, and there were huge problems with ice formation on the roof, a big no-no. I thought that I could simply layer more fiberglass insulation over it, but the gap between the chimney and frame was big enough to let a fairly substantial flow of air through. I tried stuffing the gaps with insulation, something several people at assorted home improvement stores suggested, but I was told that was in violation of fire codes. Then again, who's going to know? It's not as if fire inspectors are checking out our attic.

Either way, after speaking with the resident expert on energy efficiency, KK (how many towns have their own energy committee and chairman?), and he guided me in the ways of the law. From what I could gather, I was allowed to block the flow of air, but I wasn't allowed to stuff anything into the gap. It had to be a cover.

KK suggested a metal skirt, as did KB and PD, so there was finally a consensus on what to do. Using fireproof caulk, I could fill in the gaps and make it air tight. I opted for aluminum flashing and actually pulled it off using one piece and some tin snips. It ain't pretty, but I think it's fairly well sealed. Amazing what a little, or should I say a lot, of caulk can do. That stuff is black, however, and kind of messy. I tore my gloves on the sharp edge of the flashing and ended up getting the caulk all over my fingers. Bummer.

Working in the attic is a chore, as well. Not only do I have to squat the entire time, which is murder on my back, but it's dusty as heck up there, and there are clear signs that assorted critters are living up there. The proof is the profusion of stool samples scattered throughout the insulation. They are mainly near the chimney, where it's nice and toasty. Also, I have to be careful when I stand up or else get roofing nails through my scalp. I've been there, and it ain't pretty. Finally, just to whine a little more, it's dark working near the chimney. The lights are on one side, and don't illuminate the other side, so I have to hold a flashlight while working with my other hand. Meanwhile, I'm squatting on all fours and breathing through a mask that is fogging up my glasses, all the while swimming in fireproof caulk. Geez, should I just kill myself now, or what?

Because the job was so unpleasant, I ended up doing it in two stages. First, I went up there and cut the skirt. The next time I went up and nailed/sealed it to the frame/chimney. I thought it was a pretty good plan.

Now I can't help but think there's less snow melting on the roof. The house feels warmer, too, though now I'm all paranoid that since the chimney shaft can no longer vent all that warm air, it's going to build up to a critical mass and become a fire hazard. Is there no end to the drama?

I did have this brilliant idea that I'll have to bounce off my Mentor to cut a hole in the chimney shaft and install a vent to harness all that heat energy to warm the second floor. It seems like a good idea, which means it will be close to impossible and will end up taking years. This, of course, is right up my alley.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

1 comment:

Robert Farnham said...

Looks like you're doing good things to your home! Remember that there are some great tax credits on things like windows, doors, metal roofing and especially insulation. It's retroactive for purchases made starting Jan. 1st, 2009.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I can show you how to get the IRS tax form 5695 and the manufacturer's certificates you'll need. Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help with your project.