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Michael
How to get a historic home to be air tight

My wife and I are in the early stages of remodeling a 120 year old, 3,500 square foot East Lake in Grand Rapids Michigan. However one of the first things that we are looking at doing is making the house air tight to help retain the heat. This will be our third winter in this house and air leakage is so bad, we can't keep it warm enough without shutting down 1/2 the house in the winter. Most of it is because of air leakage around windows, doors, and just about everywhere.

In the long run, we are going to work our way to net zero, but a friend suggested that we seal the air envelope before we do much of anything else. What tips do you have regarding tightening the house up and preventing air leaks.

We would like to get it tight enough that we can install a fan in our attic window and have close to the same volume of air coming in an open basement window.

canuk
Re: How to get a historic home to be air tight

Since there will be remodeling done at some time then closed cell 2 lb spray foam would be the best way to seal and insulate in one step.

HoustonRemodeler
Re: How to get a historic home to be air tight

I too live in a Historic District. The question often arises;

Do you want a historic home or one that just looks historic?

If you want a truly historic home, then you're fairly limited to hidden insulation. A home that looks historic is much much easier to achieve.

After you've made your long range plan, insulate as you go along demo'ing to the studs. That will allow you to re-wire and re-plumb the house along with adding phone line, coaxial cable, surround sound and art lighting. Insulating under the house and the attic well are easy first steps.

dj1
Re: How to get a historic home to be air tight

Consult your local power company, they'll give some good suggestions and other tips.

Michael
Re: How to get a historic home to be air tight
HoustonRemodeler wrote:

I too live in a Historic District. The question often arises;

Do you want a historic home or one that just looks historic?

If you want a truly historic home, then you're fairly limited to hidden insulation. A home that looks historic is much much easier to achieve.

After you've made your long range plan, insulate as you go along demo'ing to the studs. That will allow you to re-wire and re-plumb the house along with adding phone line, coaxial cable, surround sound and art lighting. Insulating under the house and the attic well are easy first steps.

How much air leaks in through the stud bays?

We have not decided if we will demo to all the studs or not, but the thought has crossed our minds. I guess our idea is to have a new house on the inside but with original doors, windows, and trim. On the exterior, we want make the house look as close to original as possible.

We also plan on finishing the basement and attic someday but that will be several years down the road.

My utility company is not very creditable right now. They shut the power off to our neighborhood for 9 hours on Saturday to do an upgrade. It would be one thing if it was summer... but it was 23 degrees outside. Also last time, they told me to replace all the windows with replacements. That is not going to happen.

Micheal74
Re: How to get a historic home to be air tight

Depending on the age of your home, you may qualify for a historic restoration grant because historic home takes a good patience itself.
I love too a historic home especially in top hills like covered be snow or green grass etc.

Lawrenc

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jled96
Re: How to get a historic home to be air tight

As the other board members have stated, I too would look into historic preservation grants and even local energy utility grants and rebates, most of these companies offer low or no interest finacing loans and large rebates on air sealing and new heating equipment, I just had a customer get her home insulated and all new storm windows and all doors and existing windows weather tight and it cost her $7,500, the utility gave her $2,500 back and a zero interest loan for 7 years wich cost her $65 a month. The amount of the savings she says is over $200 a month, so this was a win,win for her. I have always advocated for the utility to pay for using there energy, I get paid to install electric equipment. You the customer has to pay the bills for the usage, so why not save some money in the long run !

Doneilzen
Re: How to get a historic home to be air tight

i am giving you best suggestion for this you contact any interior designer for this problem he will certainely solve your problem

motoguy128
Re: How to get a historic home to be air tight
Doneilzen wrote:

i am giving you best suggestion for this you contact any interior designer for this problem he will certainely solve your problem

What?

THe OP needs a building science expert. Interior designers are usually the worst enemy of historic homes and don't know jack about HVAC and sealing up a home,.

First, you need a blower door test ot find all the air leaks and determine how much leakage you have. Then develop a plan to address the largest ones.

Best way to seal windows is good quality storm windows. They also have Low-E coatings that make a big difference. A historic single pane wood window with a good storm window nearly matches the performance of a typical mid range replacement window for a fraction of the cost.

Stick frame Victorians of all kinds are notorious air leakers. Stone, brick or stucco homes are fairly tight and can often outperform most new construction.

Spray foam is ultimately the best way ot go. You can often just remove the upper rows of exterior siding to fill wall cavities. OR you cna remove crown moulding in some cases and do the same from the inside.

BUT... big but, it wont be cheap.

You can also tear out all your interior walls, but honestly, plaster is a superior material to drywall, and you'd be ruining the some of the homes character.

Sealing doors is pretty easy with bronze or plastic weather stripping.

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