Insulating the Interior Service Wall
Luckily, Bill Gifford (Home Shield Insulation), the insulator for my attic spaces, also knows a thing or two...or three, about dense packing fibreglass. He uses the Owens Corning ProPink wall insulation system (http://insulation.owenscorning.ca/builders/products/propink.aspx) which is really a type of BIBS (Blown In Blanket System). The system involves stapling a breathable semi-stretchy fabric to the service walls. The fabric is cut to allow for wall penetrations like electrical boxes, pipes, etc. A pointy ended pipe attached to a flexible hose is pushed through the blanket in several places and the insulation fills the cavity....It is not quite as simple as that so I'll elaborate! Blowing the insulation into the walls is very methodical and appears to be an art of sorts. He typically starts in the bottom corner (Photo 1-1 to 1-4) of a stud cavity and angles the pipe towards the corner, as the corner fills, the sound of the air coming out of the pipe changes, and flow rate of the insulation delivery basically stops once the dense packing is complete for the settings on his machine. As soon as the pipe is moved, the insulation starts flowing again . A cavity can be filled pretty quickly. I suspect that Bill's technique has been developed after years of doing this type of insulation system. He interacts fluidly with the delivery hose. Once dense packing is complete in one area of the cavity, he moves the delivery pipe to another, stabs a hole and starts filling again. He was able to complete the insulation upstairs in one day.
It took about 2 days to staple the fabric and 2 days to complete the insulation installation. After installation is completed he carried out some quality assurance on the blown in system. An Inspect-R gauge is used with air under pressure to determine R-value (photo 3-1 through 3-5). Values acquired for the gauge were higher than 0.65 so we have at least R15 in the interior service wall! Besides the fact that the R-value is higher than typical batts for a 2x4 cavity, the filling is much better. The insulation fills everything: it works around electrical boxes, between wires, etc. No cutting, splitting and pulling batts into place. This is a great wall system. I am much happier now looking at pink walls! I have been staring at studs for much too long.....The structure is now starting to look like a house.
Things are warming up! Before christmas, the building was cold and I found it unbearable while working. The electrical inspection passed and the service was hooked up to the pole on December 22nd. Since then the heat has been on. Heating up a cold structure is not small feat. The amount of thermal mass in the concrete slab alone is huge i.e. about 25 cu meters. I estimated that it would take almost 300 kWh to bring it up to temperature! Thick walls and lots of material make for a slow heating process. With temporary construction heaters running the house has chewed through almost 1500 kWh just bringing the house up to temperature. The heating load has decreased considerably since the temperature inside has levelled. The load does appear to be related to the number of people working in the house and whether or not its a sunny day. I have nothing quantitative at this point but it looks like the house is behaving as it should!