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Linda Crawford
Insulating Balloon Construction
Linda Crawford

My house is 120+ year-old converted one-room schoolhouse in New England and I am told is "balloon construction". During the inspection, prior to purchase, I was told to be careful as I could ruin the advantage of this type of construction by insulating the walls.

After searching 'balloon construction' on the internet, I not sure why insulating the Exterior walls would be harmful. As an aside, the roof is uninsulated, the upstair Interior walls and Ceilings are well insulated, and there are firestops in the basement.

Is it a moisture concern, misinformation, or something else?

canuk
Re: Insulating Balloon Construction
canuk

There can be plenty of confusing information available having said that ... not sure what information you've seen saying that insulating a balloon framed house is a bad idea or how it may compromise the structure.

There may have been something you were told or ran across discussing ventilation for the underside of the roof not allowing ice damns forming ?

Here is a link to an interesting little blip on a builder currently using the balloon framing technique and has a good energy value of insulation: http://oikos.com/esb/27/balloon_framing.html

Hope this helps.:)

Amyferg
Re: Insulating Balloon Construction
Amyferg

I own a 90+ year old, one-story, traditional double shotgun house in New Orleans. It's my understanding (and first-hand experience) that the reason balloon construction was used in these raised houses was to allow cooler air from under the house to flow upward through the walls and cool the house. I can testify that this works well, since when it is cooler at night the house will stay cooler throughout the day. Currently my house only has radiant barrier in the attic, but we are about to undertake a major renovation and would like to improve the insulation.

Is it possible to insulate the walls (or under the floor) and still retain the advantages of balloon construction for our climate? When I looked at the link above, it was related to new construction, not a renovation or retrofit. Our cypress weatherboard is in good condition and we would prefer not to remove it to apply rigid foam sheathing as that suggests.

Any suggestions are appreciated, but I'd love to hear from someone familiar with old houses in the Deep South.

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