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Archive for January, 2011

Insulating Water Pipes

January 31st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

What does that soccer announcer say? Goooaaaalllllllllll!

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Here is my Goooooooooooaaallll!!!!

A closer look should be a dead give away……..

You may be thinking – what makes this so exciting? I will tell you. It’s water pipe insulation – but not just any normal cheap pipe insulation, check this out:

AP Armaflex Pipe (Tube) Insulation is the original closed cell, fiber-free elastomeric foam and the world’s most recognized brand in flexible mechanical insulation.


  • Proven: World’s first choice for insulating chilled water and refrigeration lines
  • chilled-water and refrigeration systems. Efficiently reduces heat flow for hot-water plumbing, liquid-heating and dual- temperature piping
  • Retards heat gain and controls condensation drip from
  • Mold resistant: Made with Microban antimicrobial product protection
  • Acceptable in wall thicknesses through 1-1/2 ̋ (38mm) for use in air plenums and conforms to NFPA 90A and NFPA 90B requirements
  • AP Armaflex meets the energy code requirements of ASHRAE 90.1, ASHRAE 90.2 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and other building codes.
  • AP Armaflex Pipe Insulation in unslit tubular form can be slipped onto piping before it is connected, or it can be slit lengthwise and snapped over piping already connected.
  • Water Vapor Transmission: 0.05 perm-inch See technical bulletin #030 for additional information.
  • Indoor Air Quality-friendly: Fiber-free, formaldehyde-free, low VOCs, nonparticulating
  • AP Armafex Pipe (Tube) Insulation is a black flexible elastomeric thermal insulation. The expanded closed-cell structure makes it an efficient insulation. It is manufactured without the use of CFC’s, HFC’s or HCFC’s.
  • Made with Microban® antimicrobial product protection for added defense against mold on the insulation.

A quick internet search revealed that a carton of 54 of these 6′ pipes are selling on Ebay for $110 ($2.03 each). For individual pieces locally, I couldn’t find them for less then $3.66 cents for a 6′ section.

Check. This. Out. I was able to pick out  from that pile of cardboard, 20 pieces of 6′ lengths of pipe that were the size I needed for my water pipes that are 1/2″ pipes.

Shall we look closer at that receipt?

That’s right. 20 lengths of insulation piping for $0.50 each, $10.00 total. I heart the Rebuilding Center! A great lesson in knowing what you need when you go to one of these surplus stores.

On Monday, I had a walk through of the basement with Green Hammer, the general contractor, and he slapped his forehead and said, “shoot! we forgot to add insulating the water pipes in the scope of work.” I had been to the Rebuilding Center on Sunday and had seen these but walked right by because I didn’t know what they were. I ran back to the Rebuilding Center directly from work on Monday, read the description of the boxes and bought every appropriately sized pipe I could find.


Here is what you will need:

-I needed 120′ of 3/4″ of piping. You will want to measure or estimate plus 10%.

-150 8″ zip ties $7.98 (I got 2 packs of 100 at 3.99 each)

So after you buy the insulating pipes, you’ll need to split them in half to retro fit them around the pipes. I used a wire cutter because it was convenient, and made a clean cut.

Then whatever is easiest for you, but you will want to rip it down the middle, I used my thumb and drug it through the length of the pipe.

Water pipes can be made from PVC piping or copper. Copper is a more healthy alternative, it doesn’t leak chemicals into your drinking water. It was easy for me to know which pipes were water because they are all copper. They look like the below photo:

Then you just wrap the insulation around the pipes. The back pipe in this photo shows the gap you will see when you first put the insulation over the pipe. You will want to twist the insulation a little but to bring the two edges closer together and then use a zip tie every 8″-12″ to reduce the gaps. Where you have bends in the pipes, I figure – its better to be safe then sorry so zip tie to your hearts content and close those open gaps.

Here is what my final product looked like:

The savings on this project was enormous. I wish I had the DIY channel’s “10 Grand in Your Hand” on speed dial for a more accurate estimate. I saved $$ (and landfill space) on the insulation piping by buying it from the Rebuilding Center and I saved $$ by doing the work myself.

What a scoooooooooooooooooooore!  That’s Piping Insulation on a Greenstring!

Insulation on Budget

January 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What you will need:

1 Bag of Spray Foam Insulation waste.

2 Bottles of Great Stuff Spray Foam

Total Cost: $3.59+$3.59 = $7.18


So this is an image of what was behind the sheetrock in the office bump out.

These air gaps render the insulation a most useless. In order for batt insulation (the most common insulation used) to do it’s job, it need to be touching a surface on al six sides. All six sides? Batt insulation has only four sides you say? Nope. Watch:

Properly insulted batt insulation is really hard to do. When it is installed properly there are no air gaps between the wood and the insulation. So, given this information – I needed to do a lot of work to this wall in order to make it air sealed, and properly insulated. So while at a work event – Dispelling Myths of Soy Based Spray Foam – I learned that after the foam expands in a new home application, the applicator uses a saw to remove the excess foam to allow for an even drywall application.
Here is a video of a new home insulation done by Western Spray Foam.

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In this video, when the insulation gets thrown off screen, it goes into a plastic bag and thrown into the landfill. The integrity of the R-Value of this insulation is still intact. The other major benefit from spray foam is that it creates an air seal, with a little help from a can of spray foam, that air seal can be re-created. So I asked Western Spray Foam if I could take a bag home – they gave me one!

Here is what one individual piece looks like. I put the flat part against the wood to make it as even as possible.

Below you can see that I filled the crevasse with the spray foam, you can see the gaps and cracks in piecing them together, so I bought some Great Stuff  to fill them in. I made sure the whole area was very densely packed so I really only needed to filled in the cracks on the surface.

Here is what is looks like when it’s all been filled in.

That’s it! Upgraded & air-sealed! That’s insulation upgrade on a Greenstring – Saved a bag of perfectly good insulation from the landfill AND got it for free.

Fun with a Thermal Imaging Camera

January 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The reason I love Infrared Camera pictures as a tool, is not because of its accuracy (there are arguments that its not totally accurate), but because it creates a visual representation of what the human eye can’t see and is therefore is hard to understand.

Heat loss in buildings can account for up to 50% of the total energy consumption and comes from air leakage through chimneys, attics, wall vents and badly sealed windows/doors, etc. It’s a great way to ensure quality control as well, because it’s a way to actually see the cold air creeping into the house. Ideally, IR photos would be taken during a blower door test so the cold air is being drawn in.

Because electrical wire is one thing I don’t know much about – I was hesitant to use the spray foam around this electrical box that we added for my future desk – I decided to make an energy efficiency concession and jammed the existing insulation back into this dormer bay. In order to better understand just how bad that decision was, I asked my friend to bring her thermal imaging camera straight to this area.

Here is what the space looks like:

Not good. As you can see from the photo’s key on the right – all the places that are blue, are areas where outside air is sneaking into my house!

This wasn’t surprising to me – I was expecting it. Since this picture was taken, I have gone back and fixed this problem while the wall was still open. Here are other images matched up to what they look like in the house. Some very big surprises!

Obviously I have a lot of work to do! With these photos as tools, I can do spot treatment on the house and spend my money where I know it can make the biggest bang for my buck!

Now that’s renovation on a greenstring.

Good-bye Ugly Window Seat

January 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

  • What you will need:
  • Saw Zaw.
  • Sheetrock knife (or Dremel)
  • Pencil (or a laser)
  • Crow Bar
  • Great Stuff Insulation
  • Staple gun
  • Quiet Walk Underlayment (or Rosin)

What this project cost: $3.59 for Great Stuff Insulation and tools.


Above is the before image of an ugly carpeted window seat. Who ever thought that was a good idea? The carpet smells too.

The website is carpeted on the inside as well. Just opening the lid wafts an unnatural amount of grossness into the air.

So the first step here was to roll up that carpet and haul it out the front door.

Above is an image from inside the window seat. It appears that the bottom of this window seat is higher than the subfloor for the rest of the room. This causes a little difficulty later – but I have a solution.

In order to cut the sheetrock at the edge of the window seat and prevent more damage than needed to the sheetrock that won’t be removed, use a laser level to create a straight line. You could also use a pencil – but lasers are so much cooler.

The Dremel tool worked really well to cut through the sheetrock, but you can also use a sheetrock knife.

Riiiiipppp the sheetrock off and all that remains is the framing for the bench.

Next, a saw zaw came in handy to cut the framing. The dremel didn’t work well on the wood – it mostly just burned through the wood.

Rrriiiiiiiiiip again and all that’s left is new and more usable space!

Next, I was worried about the energy loss that this dormer represents. It just bumps out from the side of the house. So I did some research about alternatives to rosin paper and found this quiet walk product. (over 80%) with postindustrial/pre-consumer fibers, materials that may otherwise have been land filled.

I went Lumber Liquidators on the opposite side of town to buy it. I really didn’t want to buy a brand new roll of this product since I needed just a little area and it would wasteful to buy the whole roll because I have no purpose for the rest of it. I asked the guy behind the counter if they had an remnants, returns or waste and he said they did. Much to my surprise they had about twice as much as I needed. I offered to pay for it, and he insisted that he was going to throw it away anyway – so I was welcome to it! Talk about a win-win! That is what I call a Greenstring remodel!

Just roll this out like the rosin paper from the rest of the room’s rosin paper. Then staple the edges to keep them down.

Because the flooring structure for the bump out is different then the rest of the room – the flooring level needed to be evened out. Instead of buying new particle board underlayment, I was able to repurpose some from the floor I had to take out downstairs in order to re-insulate it. All that for another day.

Below is a photo of the screws used that are long enough to get through the particle board and get a grip into the sub floor.

Here is what it looked like once all the pieces fit together.

Then, since insulating is a very important added feature of this new floor, I used Great Stuff foam insulation to fill in the seams.

And that’s it. Now you may continue flooring as you were and start imagining all the amazing things you can do with this added floor space. I think I will build a desk…..