While waiting for this reno to start (will it ever??), I started on sealing the joist sill from the elements. I’ve been hosting all manner of wildlife and living with cold floors since I moved in.
Our favourite wildlife is what my son calls ‘the harmless beetle’ in a mock shriek, which as far as I can tell is actually called the sow beetle and is indeed harmless. But awful to live with. For several years we’ve also hosted maple bugs by the hundreds. I am hoping it is simply a population explosion thing and that soon they’ll shove off. And of course, several variety of spiders. One variety of spider made me the most nervous and that was an incredibly speedy hairy thing. I simply could not catch it. Out of the ordinary are the bumble bees that find their way into the basement. Doing laundry keeps me on my toes, because I’m never sure what I’ll find when I head down there. I wear shoes all the time in case there’s a dying bumble bee on the floor. I’m afraid that enough have died down there that I haven’t seen any in the yard at all this year. Not out of the ordinary are the busy mice who keep us company and remind us at all hours that we’ve got company. It’s been fun over the last decade hearing the adventurous mice find their way to new locations in the house.
Having said all that, I’m excited to live warm and wildlife-free next year! So, in order to accomplish that, one step is to seal the rim joist/sill plate. This is the part where the house sits on top of the concrete block basement. In my basement the rim joist has gaps open to the environment because of rotted wood, a crumbling and cracked foundation, and pipes going into or out of the basement. Honestly, there is only 2″ of wood between the basement and forty below.
So, I am using spray foam and caulking to fill the gaps and cracks. I’ll use rigid foam to insulate between the joists at the sill, all sealed with my terrible caulking skills, and I’ll also use rigid foam between the joists on the main floor. See the photo below, from Family Handyman, or Handywoman in this case. This will help to keep my toes cozy on the main floor and the wildlife where it belongs – outside!
Another project that I’ve started and mostly completed is insulation of my bay window. The plan was to simply insulate the underside of the window, but as things tend to be with old houses, one thing led to another and I ended up insulating the facing of the window as well. This was because when I started insulating the underside, I saw that the bottom centre 2×4 was rotted. So, I took off from all three sides of the bay the stucco siding (which concealed an open space under the bay window), the old growth Douglas Fir siding (numbered and preserved for refinishing and reinstallation), the tar paper, and the shiplap sheathing.
Underneath all of that was wood chip insulation and my interior lath and plaster wall. And underneath the bay was simply the subfloor exposed to the elements! No wonder it was cold at the bay window!!
I replaced the rotted lumber, used 2″ foil lined rigid foam and incredibly bad caulking to insulate on the facing and underside and reinstalled most of the original sheathing. I had to use new lumber for parts because the lower parts of all three sections of sheathing had rotted.
And, that’s where I stopped. I had run out of suitable lumber, the long weekend was over, and it was very hot out. Mostly though, I stopped because my knees were done. I’d spent three days (yes, this amount of work took me three days!) on my knees or in a squatting position working on this window. In fact, underneath the bay was a 12″ depression, which was probably the original elevation of the land before additional landscaping and topsoil was brought in. So I spent much of my three days squatting while leaning down under the bay. At one point my foot slid down the side of the depression and I felt some damage occur in my knee. I’m not sure what it was, but now, three days later, my knee is still swollen and it hurts while resting and definitely while walking. Anyway, a war wound from my fight to make my century home more liveable. I’m sure I’ll survive.
I have not put back the original siding as the plan is to refinish it first. In the meantime, the house looks worse than ever. I’ve explained to as many neighbours as I know what my plans are, so hopefully everyone understands that the great beauty of this house will take another year to shine through. Something like this: