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Insulating a 1930s semi...

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default Insulating a 1930s semi...

Post by MrsC on 6th December 2009, 9:21 am

Hello

As some of you know Mr C and I moved in the summer from a small well insulated flat to a 1928 (typical 1930s style) semi. We started in the summer, but now that the weather's getting cold we're madly trying to get and keep the place as warm as we need it to be to be comfortable (meaning we're not trying to turn it into a constant sauna, but just need to not feel cold - esp as I'm pregnant and seem to be really feeling the cold and damp at the moment).

The loft is part converted in that there is a "staircase" up to it and an enclosed room up there with velux windows, although just a push up hatch as a "door" (don't even ask about building regs on this one!). We're on top of a hill though and get quite a bit of wind. Solid brick walls and suspended floors also don't help. There's also a single height extension at the back with a flat roof.

We're trying to do a variety of things at the moment:

  • Most of the place is double glazed (with varying quality) but those few windows that are not we've put in secondary double glazing until we can look to get them replaced.
  • Tape's been used to seal up gaps in double glazing frames where drafts were coming in.
  • We've bought as thick a curtains as we can afford/find (especially for the two sets of patio doors at the back) and I'm on the look out for things in charity shops that can be added to sewn on the back to make them thicker.
  • Extra rugs on the downstairs floors where possible to reduce cold coming up from below
  • We're getting one of the carpets downstairs replaced in the new year and have ordered special insulating underlay to go under it.
  • Draft excluder stuff has been put round the front door and I"m planning to make an old fashioned sausage dog draft excluder to go across the bottom of it.
  • In the attic we've bought space blanket insulation which Mr C's been putting into all the eaves that he can get into. He's also just been out and bought some other insulation stuff (at a 50% discount as the packaging was damaged!) to go on the backs of the eaves walls that make up the sides of the attic room (if you know what I mean)
  • When we get the flat roof replaced (it's OK now, but over 20 years old and looking flaky) we'll look to get extra insulation put in at the same time.
  • The boiler that was in was useless and we've have a much more energy efficient (A rated) one put in instead. Thermostats on all radiators etc so that we can ensure that we're not just heating empty rooms for the hell of it.


In addition to the above what else is there we can do? Keen to hear practical experience of similar houses and especially any cheap ideas. I'm loathed to just follow what is sold in DIY stores as I'm sure that we need to understand the problems better to come up with innovative solutions if necessary.

Many thanks.

Mrs C
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default Re: Insulating a 1930s semi...

Post by pod on 7th January 2010, 5:23 pm

hi mrs C
dont forget foil down the back of any radiators,
cavity wall insulation might me worth while too or that spray foam stuff that goes into the roof
thats my two pennies
cheers
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default Re: Insulating a 1930s semi...

Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 7th January 2010, 5:43 pm

Can't believe I missed this post. Sorry.

If you house is 1930's it almost certainly does not have solid brick walls - are the walls rendered externally or is the brick visible? If so can you post a pic of a section?

Suspended floor - timber, presumably? again unusual for 1930's but if so that is good news - it is much easier to retro-insulate a suspended floor than a solid one. Basically, as you can afford it/ cope with the hassle. take up the floorboards room by room and put 100mm of celotex or similar beneath. - do this before getting the new carpet fitted.

If the attic room is not in daily use (is it heated space btw?) then treat it as heatloss. Take up the floorboards and get as much insulation inbetween the joists as possible. Don't faff about with fibreglass roll, use celotex or kingspan. If you are on a very tight budget you can mooch offcuts of this from building sites and over a period build up enough to do large areas.

Ensure all pipework for hot water is lagged (do this while you have the floorboards up and particularly if it runs parallel to cold water pipes), ensure all heating pipework is lagged if it is in unheated or intermittently heated areas.

What's going on with that single storey extension? If it is flat roofed it is almost certainly not original so when was it built? Singe storey extensions are the Achilles heel of properties heatwise, flat roofed, doubly so. What is in there? Is it in constant use? if not can you thermally separate it so you are not p***ing heat out that way all the time? When you have the roof redone, overspec the insulation - it will cost little more in the scheme of things but pay major dividends. What is going on with the walls? they must be cavity. Are they filled? if not, fill them (this applies to the whole house but we will examine that when we establish the wall type for definite.

Got to go - beef wellington beckons.

Do PM me if you want more specifics.

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default Re: Insulating a 1930s semi...

Post by Compostwoman on 7th January 2010, 6:03 pm

Can I add , re the Celotex/Kingspan, it is also worth asking on Freecycle (or local version) , as people do often put left over bits on

AND if you see someone having a roof done ( or similar likely building work) ask if you can have the offcuts as if they have to put them in the skip, they have to pay for them to be disposed...if you take them, it can be a skip less to pay for!

We kept all the offcuts ( and we managed to have just enough left over to do what we wanted next) but it is amazing how much skip space bits of Kingspan takes up!

So ask, and you might get lucky..... Wink

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default Re: Insulating a 1930s semi...

Post by MrsC on 7th January 2010, 7:20 pm

Right - in response to some of your questions Billy.

House was built in 1928 and is definitely solid brick wall and suspended floors for the main part of the house. Extension is a solid floor and not sure about the walls there. House on outside has (horrible) pebble-dash render so brickwork not visible (yes they breached the damp course with it as well!) Extension is in daily use as it joins the original kitchen and living room area which we use most of the time. Definitely when we have the roof replaced we'll sort out insulation. Looking at the snow on it though generally it's staying put, but interestingly there are a couple of spots where it's disappearing - needs investigation as to why! Impossible to shut this area off as it forms a big open plan area.

Attic space not in daily use yet, but may well be as family expands! There is a small radiator in there, but we've never managed to get the temp up there above 14 degrees. Mr C is insulating all the eves like mad, but was quite depressed today to walk down the street and notice that our roof had the least snow on it!

As for the floor. We're having one carpet replaced next week and have specced for a special insulating underlay as well. Hadn't thought about putting anything under that, and may be a bit late now though...

Not sure about the situation with lagging of pipes. Think he's been doing that too, but I'll ask and check.

In fact, I'll try and get Mr C on here to answer some questions himself!

Pod - foil type stuff has been put behind all radiators on external walls.

Thanks for all the hints folks, much appreciated!

Mrs C

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My blog, Being Mrs C: http://www.beingmrsc.com
Mr C and my other project, UK Nature Blog: http://www.uknatureblog.com
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default Re: Insulating a 1930s semi...

Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 7th January 2010, 7:28 pm

Solid Wall 1928 still surprising, Mrs C. What makes you say that it definitely is?

Most semis built in the 20's/30's were cavity - narrow cavity but cavity nonetheless. Solid wall was quite rare by that time. Can you measure thye wall thickness at window reveals?

Even if solid you could consider external or internal insulation although this costs a chunk of change compared to cavity insulation and has its drawbacks (loss of volume internally/asymmetry with adjoining property externally).

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default Re: Insulating a 1930s semi...

Post by Compostwoman on 7th January 2010, 10:47 pm

As Billy says, but would add...

IF Mr C is DIY handy, internal insulation ( membrane on wall/wooden battens/ air gap and/or insulation and then plasterboard) is relativly cheap to do...If you do "the works" with Kingspan or Space blanket it costs...but even just a dp membrane, a good air gap and the foil backed plasterboard can make quite a difference to the U values...

We have a mixture of different methods in side the various rooms in our house, and whilst the higher cost/higher spec ones are noticably better from an insulation viewpoint, the "lesser" spec ones are surprisingly effective...

Also you can get space blanket stuff which goes under carpet or floorboards? we have some and it works very well..but we got it on a BOGOF, so it may be pricy full cost.....

Just remember, EVERYTHING you do is helping, even if it is only in a smaller way

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default Re: Insulating a 1930s semi...

Post by tony. on 10th January 2010, 9:09 am

keep a eye out at b&q they recently were selling loft insulation 200mm thick for £1 a roll- the prices subsidised by the energy companies-

at that price get 500mm up there, thats what i plan to do

tony

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default Re: Insulating a 1930s semi...

Post by MrsC on 10th January 2010, 9:58 am

Thanks for the tip off Tony - have managed to get loads of insulation all on special offers at Homebase, B&Q and Wickes over the last few months.

Billy - in response to your questions Mr C says the following:
"Window reveals are 25-26cm, including external render and internal plaster. Which I make to be about 22.5cm for the double layer of bricks (as is traditional) and the rest for the external render and internal plaster."

Mrs C

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