The 2nd floor windows were installed and air sealed, but still needed some protection from the elements. In short, I needed to add some aluminum cladding to prevent bulk water from seeping in around the windows.
I had an interesting experience when I had the aluminum cladding added to our 1st floor replacement windows. I learned that this job requires attention to detail and a specific skill set: Taking accurate measurements.
The contractor I hired for the 1st floor windows was somewhat deficient on both, so I ended up finishing the job myself. With that I felt fairly confident to take on all our 2nd floor windows … except that they are just a little higher off the ground. But that wasn’t a problem. I put up scaffolding so I had a safe working platform 20 feet off the ground.
I bought two coils of sheet aluminum, a bunch of caulk, and rented an aluminum brake (also called siding brake). Because of the elevation I moved slowly but deliberately. I have to admit, it was rather exhausting because of the concentration and focus it took. But after four days of measuring, cutting, bending, trimming, fitting, and caulking, I had all windows cladded. Again, just in time for the winter season. Hurray!
My entrance into the world of energy efficient yet affordable windows started with a lot of research, and I mean a LOT of research. I had to acquaint myself with new vocabulary like “triple pane insulated glazing units,” or “solar heat gain coefficient.”
I was very happy to tap into my acquired expertise again, this time to get our 2nd floor replacement windows installed. This time around it was a breeze, because our friend Drew and I had already done all the prep on the second floor window bucks a while back.
And on the purchasing side, I went around to check the specifications, performance values, and prices on triple pane insulated glazing units from local manufacturers. And I found what I was looking for – energy efficient windows that did not break the bank.
I have written a lot about what these performance values mean, and rather than repeating myself let me link you to one blog post that summarizes the tech talk, or you can click on any of the other links in this blog post.
One thing that I will repeat – because it can’t be said often enough – is the importance of the air leakage metric. Why? Because any insulation is only as good as it is airtight. Take, for example, a ski jacket on a downhill slope. You left the front zipper partially open. Will the jacket keep you warm? No, because the cold air gets in. Same with windows.
The Efficient Window Collaborative recommends windows with an AL of 0.3 cfm/sf or less. A value of 0.3 cfm/sf is like a ski jacket with the zipper partially open. You really want to zip it up. Our target was a value of 0.05 cfm/sf or less.
Our NFRC label says ? 0.3 cfm/sf. However, to be certain about the actual performance, I asked the manufacturer for the test reports and found that they listed the actual air infiltration at 0.02 cfm/sf. Bingo!
Please note that most labels do not list the actual air leakage value. You will have to ask the vendor for the test data. It is probably the best question you will ask.
I am just happy that we got the old double hung windows out and the replacement windows in before the winter hit. It will cut down on the heat loss, and changes the look from an abandoned apartment to something resembling a home.
To keep things interesting, we indulged in a different approach for the ceiling framing in the guest bedroom (like I had a choice!).
The span across the room was about twice that of the bathroom. To avoid a sagging ceiling, we reused the the original and sturdy two by six ceiling joists we had removed a while back. But rather than running the joists in the original east-west direction, we turned them north-south, the same direction the ventilation duct work will be running.
This will allow us to run the duct work in between the ceiling joists, and thus maximize the room height. Like in the bathroom, we only had to lower the room height by six inches, from ten feet to nine foot and six inches.
Things you take apart require putting together again. This circular process keeps following me on this project.
The framing configuration of the roof and attic towards the south end of the building left me with a spatial challenge. In order to have enough room to get the roof or attic insulated and air sealed, I had to remove the original 2nd floor ceiling joists. You can read up details in a previous post and follow the ceiling joist removal here.
Now, that the roof is insulated and air sealed, it’s time to look overhead, more so than ahead, and bring back the ceiling framing.
We started with the bathroom. Because we have a fairly short span across the room, two by fours were sufficient for the ceiling framing. The original room height was ten feet. We lowered it to nine feet and six inches. That gave us the space we needed for the insulation and the future ventilation duct work.
Although I usually enjoy writing blog posts, this one doesn’t necessarily fall in the “fun” category. I am talking about my well intended roof insulation that required a partial do-over.
I did a very thorough job, starting with rock wool insulation between the roof joists, followed by four inch thick XPS foam board that we mounted under the roof joists and then airsealed with close cell spray foam. I subsequently discovered that my insulation assembly was upside-down and that I had created a cold roof deck. So I started the process of removing the carefully installed XPS insulation, which ultimately should be installed on top of the roof deck.
With the XPS insulation removed, I needed a new vapor permeable air seal. It needs to be vapor permeable to allow for seasonal drying of the roof assembly. Out of the handful of methods available, using half inch drywall in place of the XPS boards seemed to be the simplest and most reliable solution.
Once we had the drywall mounted under the roof joists, I made sure we mudded and taped it carefully to create an effective air barrier.
To seal the edges, I installed two by twos with a small gap that I filled and sealed with foam.
With my new air barrier in place, I started rebuilding the ceilings where needed and then I moved on to installing the ventilation duct work.