Monday, April 25, 2016

Technical difficulties

UGH, by which I mean, Hello all!  Sorry I mysteriously disappeared instead of posting on Friday, or at any point earlier today, or really today at all, since I have no energy to prep and post the lovely knitting photographs I took for you over the weekend before I was felled by aNOTHer cold.

This is how my brain feels right now.
(you know, like a laminate counter sample I quite like for the laundry room.)

I knew this cold was coming, because I spent time with a sick friend last week who missed that critical 'lift elbow and lower head before coughing' maneuver a few times.  I think I may actually have been sneezed on as well.

Anyway: no surprise, and I did try to plan for a few lost days, but not well enough apparently.

Wondering what a sick Mary does when too miserable even to prep photographs, but not breathing well enough to sleep all day long?

Watch a lot of Miss Fisher on Netflix (recommended)

Accidentally taste a tiny bit of Vicks VapoRub by picking up a glass with a Vicks'd hand (not recommended At All)

Compulsively consume interior decorating tips online using a cell phone (if you like that sort of thing)

Accidentally read about how keeping your charging cell phone and other electricals next to the head of the bed can cause brain cancer (not really recommended)

Review locations of all electrical in house and probably locations of heads of beds (recommended, especially if it proves to be reassuring and/or fixable)

Knit, of course (always recommended)

Participate in resolving various family health crises (recommended if the situation demands it, as the alternative is invariably worse)

Ponder the wisdom of fixed-in-place brass decor accents lest they be a trend that passes (meh)

Recall the scraped-up 80s brass doorknob that managed the front door of the house for the past 30 or so years and is still perfectly functional and never offended the sort of people who dropped in (helpful)

Research insulation -

and here I have to stop and shake my head because OH MY GOODNESS.  or some other firm expletive.  Insulation is the most loaded topic I've had to dig into during this entire renovation project, even worse than window selection, and that is saying something because I strongly dislike our windows and especially the fact that I let us be pressured into them.  On top of everything else I don't like, they are impossible to get out through in case of fire, I doubt they even pass code in that regard.  AND they were the most expensive kind on the market.

Insulation is worse than the windows, because of the health risks that hinge on your choice.  Even the least offensive sort of traditional insulation - fiberglass, for example - poses problems like improperly protected spaces and mold if not well installed.  But some insulations, notably spray foam insulation, can trigger quite serious reactions and in the case of spray foam, is a supremely expensive nightmare to take out again if it does.  Some unlucky homeowners have had to sell their homes, because the foam has made family members too sick to stay in it.

Here is what I don't like about spray insulation, even if you spend enough on it to expect a safe installation:

It doesn't matter how wonderful the product is in theory, it's not a finished product until the spray hits the wall.  Or rather, until the A spray hits the B spray - it's like epoxy, it requires a chemical reaction right there in your home.  So quality control comes down to the installer's training, not careful factory conditions.

And not just the installer's training.  It's also the temperature of the day, which changes over the course of the day.  How wet it is, or how dry.  How tired the installer is, or how close to coming down with a cold.  No visiting sick friends for spray foam installers!

Also: it underscores the gap between Green for the planet and Green for human health.  Even if it's well installed, spray foam is not recommended for people with chemical sensitivity, and who's to say we might not offer shelter to someone with that issue, or be such a person ourselves?

Gah.  Three guesses what our beautiful house was designed for, before I knew all of this.  Of course.  Spray foam!

And because it's got a very high R value, you can build thinner walls than you need for fiberglass or mineral wool. Which means that to meet the city's requirements with another less chemically solution Ray would have to build up all the exterior wall framing with deeper timber and Andy and I would have to redo the kitchen design - and the order absolutely has to go in this Friday - to accommodate a space that is 2" shallower on all the exterior walls (quickfact: the refrigerator is already jutting out way farther into a narrow doorway than Andy likes.)  No pressure on deciding what to do.

Of course we all know what's best if you're not restricted by measurements, don't we?  Insulating with WOOL.  Actual wool.  Which doesn't burn nearly as fast as petrochemicals, doesn't take up nearly as much floorspace as hay bales, is never toxic apart from skin allergy which is contact-specific, and is a terrific resource in case one should ever run out of other wool to knit.

Had I but realized...

Anyway, that's me for today, getting a quick visit in under the wire (it's 11:30pm as I type these words) and getting up to go collapse under blankets right about... now.


Su said...

I was at a spinning workshop today where we were naturally, discussing wool. The leader's daughter had had wool insulation and despite it being treated, they got a plague of moths! I don't know enough about the other types of insulation to pass comment, but I do know that you don't want a plague of moths.

Mary Keenan said...

Ironically Su, I thought about moths this morning too! And carpet beetles, and other pests that love wool even more than we do. Closed-cell pray insulation never ever gets infested by insects or eaten by rodents, let alone nested-in, mainly because it's rock solid and otherwise nasty. Still, that's one perk...