Sunday, September 12, 2010

Insulating the Basement

This weekend John and I undertook a project we have been planning and dreading for some time. Our first real heavy duty house project, not a little light and fluffy decorating project. This one involved sweat, muscles, and POWER TOOLS!

Last winter we ended up closing the den off from the rest of the house because it was soooo cold. You could feel the cold air pour into the house anytime the door to the kitchen was open, so for much of the winter it was a completely non-functional room. Which was a bummer, because it is our hobby room (no kids allowed!) with space for music playing, the computer, and my craft table and supplies.

Hence the decision to insulate the cinder block basement under the den before this winter. And since it's already getting cool, better get it done now!

So we headed to Home Depot and picked up all of our supplies. Except when we started getting them all piled on our cart we realized our 15 pieces of 12 foot long lumber and 19 pieces of 2x8 insulation were NOT going to fit in our Ford Focus Wagon.

You know the Lowe's ad with the couple calling their parents in desperation when they realize they have bitten off more than they can chew? That was us.

Call #1, and John's dad came to the rescue with his truck to drive all of our plunder home.

Saturday morning we started off great. I cut the lumber (with a real saw!) while John emptied the basement of all the junk the previous owners left for us. Moldy lumber and such. Yuck. Then I cut down the insulation to the right size while John continued to empty junk. Poor guy kept hitting his head pretty much every time in and out because it is so low!



All the junk that will not be going back in the basement.

Sophia got up and she and John headed to Starbucks to get fueled up while I read the Ramset manual.

Now, a word of explanation here. And I am not an expert, so it might not even all be accurate. A Ramset is basically a gun that shoots nails into concrete. And uses .22 shells to shoot them. The manual itself is a bit terrifying, with all kinds of dire warnings, apparently you are supposed to have a license to use this thing which you receive after you pass the test that you mail into Ramset. It seems that if you aren't careful, you'll shoot a hole in your foot, or head, or thru your wall, etc.

Once you get past all the warnings and onto the how-to's, it seem pretty straightforward. We did have to make call #2 to my dad to clarify several of the dire warnings (he was the one to recommend this devilish tool to us), and then had to go back to Home Depot to pick up some less powerful .22 casings.

Then we ate lunch, put the kid down for her afternoon nap, ready to go!

We got the plastic sheeting laid out that we used as vapor barrier on the walls and floor, and put up the first piece of strapping to be nailed to the wall. The plan was to attach the strapping to the concrete blocks with the nails shot in by the Ramset. So we put on our ear and eye protection, loaded up the Ramset, got it in place, hit the trigger on the end with the hammer, and . . .

Nothing happened.

So, as the manual says, we held the Ramset in place for 30 seconds (so no one gets a nail in the brain from accidental discharge), unloaded, reloaded, tried again.

No go.

I decided John wasn't hitting it hard enough, so pushed him out of the way so I could do it right. Ha! Both of us were just frightened enough and just innacurate enough in our hammer strikes that we couldn't make it work! If only we had gotten the next Ramset model up with a trigger instead of the stupid manual one.

Calls #3 and 4 happened pretty close together, and by the time Dad picked up #4 he was already driving to our house. Two hours later all the strapping was attached to the walls by my dad, who wielded the hammer with considerably more power and finesse than did John or I. John loaded the Ramset while I was the runner, making sure the plastic and strapping where all in place.

I hammered the insulation in place after Dad left, but with regular nails, no .22 shells required. Hopefully it does the trick this winter, and perhaps I will add "remedial hammering practice" to my list of to-do's.









We didn't insulate the brick wall because the other side is our full basement, which stays a pretty good temperature all winter.


I needed a shower in a bad way by the end of the day . . . but was really pleased overall.

Despite needing some help, we successfully finished our first big home improvement project, and even better . . . did it without fighting!

Now that is a successful home improvement project!


Beth said...

No fighting? Not even when you decided he wasn't hitting the nail gun ...thing... hard enough? (I can just imagine Josh's irritation if I had tried to steal a manly tool! :)) Hee hee. I am pretty sure we have yet to complete a project sans drama. We have learned how to work "together, but separate," i.e., I cut in and he rolls out when we are painting. ;)

Nice work! Hope it does the trick! And, yay for getting rid of all the stuff that was in there!

W. Stauffer said...

I like your blog; you're a good writer!

I'm sorry to say that I realized I have too much to do to get ready for travel to Boston tomorrow to do a read through! Can we schedule it for Sunday after church? I am free Fri and Sat, but I think John works. Also, Simon let me know that he just can't add anything to his huge load at school and work this fall, so he won't be able to be in the play. I am willing to take part (If I pass the audition!) but I am going away for one week at the end of Oct and first few days of November, so I don't know if that's a problem?

Anonymous said...

Hooray for you both! I think that last pic says it all... again, another enjoyable blog post.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that was me, Meagan, by the way!

Earlybirdmom said...

I'm so proud of you guys...all three of you! =)

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