Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No Good Thing Is Ever Perfect!

When we first moved into our home, nearly four years ago, we were excited to tackle the ‘work’ it needed in order to get it into shape. We painted, refinished the hardwood floor, tiled the master bathroom, fixed some leaks, sealed drafts, built a pergola, and many more things. Most of them were cosmetic but it was work all the same.

But as time keeps moving forward, so too does the age of our sweet home. We are starting to see many things going wrong, and unfortunately, they are no longer just cosmetic. No. These issues need to be tackled before we waste too much more time and money.
Over the last summer, we finally broke down and replaced three of our very broken and aged windows. They no longer functioned, so we replaced the worst three and decided we could tackle a few more when we finished paying for these. Well, three days after we had them installed, another one of our windows broke! But, going with our original plan, we have closed it and don’t touch it so it will last a bit longer.
As I gazed out my new window two days ago, I noticed a very cold and very noticeable draft in my formal living room. It has been really cold lately – lows were reaching 3 degrees for a bit - so our heater has been working overtime to heat our home. But our last gas bill was through the roof!  Adding insult to injury, we weren’t even warm! This prompted me to investigate this problem (and draft I felt) and seek a solution.
I’ve done a lot in for this house and I feel like I know it through and through. So I tackled this task with the same gumption I did with any other: I will be the victor!
So I began feeling for the origin of the draft. I checked the usual suspects: electrical outlets, widow seals, windows, window and door casings, baseboards, door jambs, the works.  And in so doing, I came across several places that required some attention. I had a draft through several outlets on the exterior walls of my home, around the threshold of my front door, and most prominently around my brand new window! It was never insulated around the frame, not window, to protect us from the cold outside. Now that I had this information, I wanted to be pro-active and fix these before we wasted any more of our precious heat to the outdoors!
I first began with the simpler tasks: insulating the electrical outlets and insulating the front threshold.
Insulating outlets is extremely simple. I went to my nearest Lowe’s (but I’m confident most home-improvement stores would carry them) and purchased a pack of outlet insulators. They’re basically foam you place just under the cover plate to keep the drafts at bay.
The front door presented a bit more of a challenge. I had a gap between the hardwood and the threshold that was allowing cold air to seep in. My solution was to take a piece of oak and create a transition piece; covering the gap and protecting the integrity of the threshold.  I cut a piece of oak, ¼” by ¼”, the length of the opening and used a brad-nailer to secure it into place.
The last part of my heat saving quest was a bit more complicated. I first remove the casing from around my window. To my surprise – or really, lack-there-of, with this house – I discovered a space that went directly to the open air! When I looked this gap, I could see the light from outside…I was flabbergasted! No wonder my house wasn’t holding any heat in!
Having seen what the problem was exactly, I had a better idea as how to fix it. I got some standard insulation (we had some extra in our attic I took and put to use in this project) and began stuffing into the gaps around my window. I packed every gap fairly solidly until I had gone around the entire window frame. 
Just as a side note: I’m not a licensed carpenter nor am I a very experienced one, but I know a little bit about the basics. If you encounter a gap that is large or very deep, instead of the standard fiberglass insulation, you may want to consider the liquid insulation. It is designed to expand to at least three times its size and does a great job in larger spaces. In this case, my gap was too small to warrant using anything more than the fiberglass I had.
With just insulating these gaps, what a difference we have noticed! There is no longer a cold or unwelcoming feeling when you enter the room. It is slightly cooler, yes, but I will attribute that to the fact we have vaulted ceilings in that room. It is far more comfortable, temperature wise, to sit in and enjoy than before.
My next step is of course to try to put up our new window casings! I hadn’t intended to start it yet, but since necessity required my attention, my plans have changed. I have made my cuts for the front window and now I’m just waiting on my oak trim to be able to finish this window. Once I’m done with the front, I will easily be able to replace all the window casings! That excites me!
But for now, having sealed my major drafts and benefiting from the extra warmth I’m experiencing, I’m looking toward the next homestead fix I must embark upon! Along with the window casings, I also must take a close look at our electrical. I have an outlet that hasn’t worked since we moved in and another that was burned out prior to our ownership, which I need to replace and take a look at. But that will be another day. For now, I can rest comfortably knowing I have sealed a very large gap and will save us a bit on our next heating bill!
There are always tasks that seem somewhat daunting to tackle at your home, homestead, farm, or wherever you call your stomping grounds. But if we can tackle these projects head-on and steadfastly, the rewards will be beyond measure! Not only will you become more knowledgeable and well-versed in different aspects of life, and have the self-satisfaction of knowing you did it on your own, you will also be saving money and creating a better living environment for your family!   
My thoughts: get out there, tackle the hard stuff on your own, and learn something new! It will be so rewarding!


  1. You always amaze me with your "can do" attitude. You're an inspiration for me to tackle much bigger projects. Way to go on the insulation project. You'll be rewarded in more ways than one :-) ($)

  2. Seriously, you surprise me with your dimensions everytime i see you. Pigs, sheep, home repair you are my kind of women!!!!

    The Jacobs Homestead

    1. Thanks! But you are the true inspiration!! Call me anytime when you have pigletts...I'd love to help!!