Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Snow Outside, Toasty Inside

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Snowmageddon all the forecasters were warning us about seems to have fizzled out overnight, as this was all we had when we awoke this morning.  Just enough to cover up the solar panels.  It's still colder than a well digger's belt buckle, though.  I guess we're skipping fall here and going straight to winter.  Bah!

The unpleasant weather is the perfect excuse to stay inside, so we spent the day working on insulating the rim joist in our basement.  This was a to-do from the energy audit that we had done in the Spring.  Apparently, beyond beefing up your attic insulation, insulating the rim joist in your basement is the second best thing you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your house.  Even if you have a brand new house.  There's a huge amount of energy that is lost from holes around service wires coming into your house and the airflow between your foundation wall and the rim joist.  

It's fairly simple to fix with some insulation.  The pink fiberglass stuff does not work for this, though, as it's terrible at stopping air infiltration!  Instead, you can pay someone an exorbitant amount of money to come in and spray foam everything or you can do what we did and opt to use rigid foam.

Not our house - our foam is baby blue

Basically, you just need just a few things for this project:

  1. A sheet of 2" rigid foam that's available from any hardware store
  2. A sheet of 2.5" screws to secure the foam to the rim joist.  Don't go longer than that or you'll poke through the outside!
  3. Spray expanding foam (like "Great Stuff")
  4. A retractable utility knife
And here's how you do it:

  1. Measure the cavity between the joist.  (We measured them all and just wrote down the measurements so we could cut the foam outside.  It does make a mess.)
  2. Subtract 3/4" to 1" from the height and width measurement.  This will allow for the expanding foam later.  If you cut the foam too tight, it will be hard to get the foam in there.
  3. Use the utility knife to cut the foam to your measurements.  
  4. Center the foam in the space and then use a screw to secure it to the rim joist.  Then go around all 4 sides and fill the gaps between the rigid foam and the wood completely with expanding spray foam.  Voila!  No more drafts.
It's 22 degrees outside right now and, as we worked, we found areas where cold air was literally pouring in over the foundation wall.  The temperature in our basement immediately and palpably went up with each piece of foam that we installed.  While we were at it, we added some additional spray foam to the basement windows as well.  It took us about 4 hours to do half the basement, so this is a full day project.  The other half will have to wait until next weekend, as we're out of spray foam.  And energy.

Bring in the Professionals

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Yesterday, I gave you a look at the progress on the front of the house.  What a difference, huh?  Now to move on to the back of the house.

That big ol' tree on the right gives great shade to the park-like backyard, but it is WAY too close to the $1400 house and overshadowing the roof.  So it's got to go.  But it's also way out of our league so I had to bring in a professional tree service.  When we need help, I always call Eli's Tree Service, because they do good work.  In fact, I called them yesterday and they said they could do it today. 

It looks weird without the tree there now.  But now we can get a dumpster close to the house.
Not only did they take the big tree down, but they also finished our job on the front tree and took the rest of that down, use their bobcat to take out the rest of the fence posts, and chipped up all the brush that we cut down yesterday.  They really do a great job.  Look at the front now! 

But you can also now see the broken windows I need to fix!
 With winter not far off, something new that Eli's is doing this year is posting Craigslist ads for free wood pickup.  That allows people to get free firewood and it also help lower the amount of wood that Eli's has to pay to haul off and dump.  A win-win situation.  Either way, the wood gets recycled and that makes me happy.

I know this project may seem crazy to a lot of you, but this grand old house can be saved.  I'm sure of it!
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