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My husband and I are to be getting our entire home insulated this week. Our home is 95 years old and has no insulation. We were going to do the attic, walls, box sills, and crawl space. Where our problem lies, is we were planning on putting up new siding once the insulation was done, but discovered the current siding is red wood. So now we have a couple problems. Once it's insulated, can the plugs be disguised enough by patching, sanding, and painting to hide them? I would love to preserve the siding and certainly save some money as well.

The other question is I have read a lot of information about all the damage that can occur when insulating walls. Naturally they are plaster and I certainly don't need to go around repairing them. The wiring is all updated since we purchased the home, but I can't say for sure that there is knob and tube remnants in the walls. Would we be better off insulating the other areas and leaving the walls alone?

Re: Insulation

What are you insulating the walls with? If it is a blown in fill like fiberglass or cellulose, you could be setting yourself up for mold and rot problems later on. And are you absolutely sure that there is no insulation in the walls now? People used to stuff newspapers in the walls about the time your house was built.

Redwood siding is much more common on the west coast than the east coast so that brings up a climate question, how cold does it get where you live? It is possible that you might be better off not insulating the walls at all. Your walls right now have an insulation value of about R-4 or R-5. If you are using a blown in loose product, you might be looking at only doubling this at best. Since the wall only account for about 20% of your heat loss right now, insulating them would only reduce your current heating bill by 10%. And this will be the most expensive part of the insulating job.

If you are going ahead with filling the wall cavities, you should have the holes drilled into the plaster on the inside of the house instead of the redwood on the outside. You can plug the holes in the plaster and cover them so they don't show. You won't be able to do that with the redwood siding.

If you are using a loose fill in the wall cavities, then look in to a vapor retarding paint for the interior walls and seal around all outlets and switches in the insulated walls. You can also use a vinyl wall paper as a vapor barrier.

If your Redwood siding is a lap siding or a board on batten type of siding, then sometimes you can remove a lap or board instead of drilling a hole in it. It maybe a little more time consuming, but is worth it. Those insulation contractors just want to do what is easiest and quickest for them and that is to drill holes. If they are not willing to work with you on alternatives, then you need to find one who will, that is a sure sigh of someone who will do a sloppy job and possibly do serious damage to your house.

If you live in an earthquake zone, then you really should take down all the lath and plaster and have the house frame braced for earthquakes, then install fiberglass batts, a vapor barrier and sheetrock.

Warning: if this sudden interest in insulating your house is the result of a door to door insulation salesman and you have signed a contract, call and cancel this contract immediately. You have a three day grace period so take advantage of it. In the rare event, this is an honest company, cancel this contract and tell them you will consider a new contract AFTER you have gathered more information and know exactly what you want and how you want it done.

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