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Rehab Jan

05:43PM | 04/18/01
Member Since: 05/01/01
2 lifetime posts
Bvmisc
I made an offer on a home that is completely gutted - no walls - only rooms roughed in. Approximately 75% of the wiring is done, absolutely no plumbing. I went through this home with a contractor who gave me a VERY reasonable estimate. I later found out about a Rehab program through Fannie Mae. In order to qualify the majority of the big ticket work (plumbing, electric) must be done according to code. I have 2 questions -I went through this with a general contractor and an approved Fannie Mae consultant. The consultant is telling me I have to have cold air returns in every room of the house. I'm not 100% clear on what exactly a cold air return is - does every home have them?

My second question is, the consultant is a big fan of blown insulation. The GC says that R19 insultation is adequate and feels blown insulation is fine where you have existing walls but if all there is right now is studs, why bother with blown insulation....?

I am a single mom trying to make an informed decision. I'm certainly no contractor and feel as if I am caught between 2 very different opinions. Any input would be appreciated.

david_wv

03:14AM | 04/19/01
Member Since: 01/28/01
171 lifetime posts
Rehab Jan - The cold air return is a vent for pulling air out of the room to take back to the furnace. Usually the return is high on a wall opposite the floor register (warm air). This arrangement forces more air circulation for more even heating. The cold air is pulled into the furnace, heated, then pushed out the register. You have a little more energy efficiency since you're reheating warmish air instead of pulling in cold air to heat. It's best if the cold air returns are inside interior walls so you can maximize exterior insulation.

As with most things in life, various insulations have pluses and minuses. The main problem with blown insulation in walls is guaranteeing you've filled the whole space. Wires, etc in the wall may catch the insulation and leave a big gap. Also, is there damage to the dry wall to make openings for installation? You can see fiberglass filling the wall space during installation since it goes up before the drywall. One problem is workers who don't take care about their work may leave gaps around outlets,etc. Also the fiberglass may not fill the width of the stud space if the studs are slightly further apart than normal. One alternative is icyene (sp?) foam insulation. The foam liquid is sprayed on the wall and expands about 100 times. This fills every bit of space. Unfortunately it has to be installed by a trained contractor and is more expensive.

In your case I would go with fiberglass in the walls. Before the drywall goes on, go over the whole wall yourself to fix any gaps left by the installers. Also take a caulk gun and seal any cracks since moving air really ****s out the heat. And get a can of minimally expanding foam (Great Stuff is one brand) to fill narrow gaps that fiberglass won't fit. Be careful with the foam since it may be strong enough to bow studs around windows and doors. Put in one line of foam and give it time to expand. You can always come back to add more foam later.

david_wv

03:18AM | 04/19/01
Member Since: 01/28/01
171 lifetime posts
Sorry about the "**** " in the last post. I guess the forum software is touchy about inappropriate lanquage.

How about:
Also take a caulk gun and seal any cracks since moving air really cools the inside air.

rpxlpx

04:05AM | 04/19/01
Member Since: 03/13/00
1678 lifetime posts
I'm, curious:
My current house, and every house and apartment I've ever lived in DO NOT have cold air returns in EVERY room. Has it become required for new construction or is this guy just going overboard? (I understand that it's a good thing to have, but more expensive to build initially.)

NickG

06:30PM | 04/19/01
Member Since: 02/13/01
27 lifetime posts
Good point rpxlpx as I too don't have them in every room 2 on the 1st floor, 2 on the main in one in the basement (not finished yet).

Nick

david_wv

03:21AM | 04/20/01
Member Since: 01/28/01
171 lifetime posts
I've owned three homes:

Small ranch on crawlspace built late 1980's had one really big vent for cold air return.

Four bedroom on slab built in 1990 with at least two returns upstairs and a big one downstairs.

Three bedroom with basement built in 2000 with two returns each in family room and master bath. One return each in two bedrooms, dining room, and both upstairs and downstairs halls. All returns are very roughly 6x10 inch.

I'll admit that in the latest house, I've come across a few things that I don't understand why the builder did something. The returns were made by putting a vent into the space between studs near the ceiling on an interior wall. The bottom plate and subfloor were cut with a sawzall to make an opening from the upper stud space to the space below. The only sheet metal work for returns is in the basement. I'm not saying this is the right way. It's just what I have.

KosmicCarp

09:12PM | 04/21/01
Member Since: 03/27/01
11 lifetime posts
David_wv gave some very good advice about going with fiberglass insulation and using that Expanding Foam that comes in a can. They know have Minimal Expanding Foam that is better to use around doors and windows. It should almost go without saying that your contractor will cover that insulation with a properly installed Plastic Vapor Barrier. Good Luck.
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