the insulation installers arrived at 7:40, way earlier than they should've (between 8:30-9:00). fortunately i was already up, having slept poorly overnight, anxious about the work being done this morning. i heard the beeping of what sounded like a truck backing up, and when i looked out the window i knew it was them. i was glad they were able to find parking, since i was afraid they wouldn't because we (they?) never applied for a construction parking permit (which cost $100 and had to be submitted 4 days in advance). i went out to greet the person in charge (jim). he asked if i knew who owned the car parked in front of the house, because if it moved there'd be space for their second truck. i called steve who came down a few minutes later to move his SUV.
a team of a dozen contractors arrived in two trucks (4 young white north shore guys and 2 brazilians). i was told normally they'd send out just a single truck, but one of their jobs got cancelled so they both showed up, hoping to get everything done faster. jim went over what they planned on doing today: seal the rim joist in the basement, pop out shingles so they can drill holes to pump in insulation material (cellulose), and insulate the door sweep. according to the contract they were also supposed to insulate my ducts, but jim told me that wasn't a part of their work order, and the next step living will probably send out their own team to do that instead, since he doesn't know anything about it.
half the team were in the basement sealing the rim joist. it involved spraying it with expanding foam then patch it edge with a rectangular block of fiberglass insulation. their spray guns were long enough that i didn't have to move any of steve's stuff after all. sealing the rim joist first is important because later on when insulation is pumped into the walls, sometimes it's possible for the insulation to spill out from an uninsulated rim joist.
while that was going on, the other half of the team were pulling out shingles. they did that by scoring the shingle with a box cutter then prying it off. they stick the loose shingles underneath a nearby shingle so later on they can nail them back to their original location. shingles actually make their work a lot easier, compared to something like vinyl siding, where you can easily hide the evidence of the work. once the shingles came off, they'd drill into the wall of the house until they got into the space between the exterior and interior walls. that's when they'll blow in the insulation material, a type of cellulose, which looks like paper pulp, but treated with non-toxic chemicals to be fire, insect, and mold resistant.
i was surprised that there was zero insulation inside the walls of my house. jim actually told me this was pretty typical, and that the vast majority of old houses in the area don't have any wall insulation. perhaps it'd all sunken down since 1903 when my house was first built. but between that that and now, and the various owners who lived here, nobody thought to insulate the walls? or maybe it just wasn't economical to do so. i'm only doing it because of the mass save energy credit of $2000, so i only need to pay $1000 myself. the money it can save me over the winters (and the summers as well) will probably mean this investment will pay for itself eventually. insulation work isn't really a sexy renovation since you can't really see it; but if it can lower my utility bills, i'll be pretty happy.
with 6 people the installation was pretty efficient, with contractors simultaneously working on all 4 sides of the house. jim asked me if there was any good places to eat around here, i told him there was a chinese restaurant around the corner, and also o'sullivan burgers. he laughed, because one of the guys in his crew used to date the daughter of the o'sullivan owner. all these guys were also part of a soft ball team, and they had a game today after work.
these guys did great work but i had some gripes. i didn't like the fact that the shingles would be nailed back on with the nails exposed. this may be the only way to do it, but i think it looks sort of ugly. the door insulation strips they gave me was a white color, which looks kind of hideous paired with my red door; i'm hoping maybe i can repaint it. with 2 trucks, they also took up a lot of space, roping off margot/don's house as well as renee's place with caution tape. finally, the biggest gripe is the total disregard for my plants. i tried to save as many as possible, moving cables and tubes and equipment whenever i saw them on my plants, and despite my warnings to these contractors, they still trampled on the plants. my poor hostas! but they'll grow back. if only this work had been done in the fall! or early winter! when all the plants were dormant! later when jim was in the house and saw my grow closet, he understood why i was so concerned about the plants.
everything was going fine until i went into the house and saw a mountain of cellulose material in my kitchen. it took a few seconds for my brain to register what i was seeing, but i quickly opened a window and told them to stop pumping the insulation. apparently there was a small gap behind the kitchen island counter and also behind the dishwasher. it took one of them half an hour to clean up the mess with a shopvac.
the gap behind the counter they just plugged up with some expanding foam. the one behind the dishwasher seemed more serious. so in my haste to see if i can plug the gap, i tried pulling out the dishwasher. it came out a little bit, but i suddenly remembered it was probably attached to a bunch of cables, so i quietly pushed the machine back. but the damage was already done, and i must've yanked the water intake line because suddenly the machine kept on leaking. i went down to the basement to shut off the water, but the cutoff valves are bad and water still continued to come out. at a certain point it seemed to stop, before i realized it was actually leaking into the basement, which i temporarily caught with a bucket.
i should've done more research before deciding to yank out the dishwasher. had i been a bit smarter, i would've realized i could open the panel at the bottom and see all the conduits. and if i did that, i would've also been able to see the gap, and had them fill it up with foam before i decided to break the dishwasher. i turned the copper nut on the intake line and that seemed to slow down the drip. later i called my father, who stopped by to help me turn it some more, so eventually it was down to a drip every 15 minutes.
while i was trying to fix the dishwasher, the guys were finishing up outside. jim decided to insulate the small patch of empty wall space near the washing machine by filling it up with expanding foam, which he said was actually better than cellulose, but more expensive so it's not a common practice (he couldn't pump in cellulose because it'd just come out from the gap).
by the time i went out again, they had already cleaned up and were getting ready to leave in their trucks. i signed some papers, said my thank yous, and watched them go around 1:00. i went back inside the house to continue the kitchen cleanup, as little bits of cellulose dust was still everywhere. i finally stopped to have some greek yogurt for lunch around 3:00. afterwards i biked to market basket to grab a salad kit for dinner and some snacks. on my way back, i took a detour down sacramento street to water the seedlings i planted yesterday.
i bought some sunkist golden nugget oranges ($1.49/lbs). they reminded me of the sweet oranges i had back in chongqing. they're kind of ugly, won't win any beauty contest, but they peel easily like a clementine (but just bigger), and far sweeter. i noticed recently there's been some new citrus crops in the produce aisles, something i wholeheartedly think is a good thing.
later in the evening i went around the house checking the wall temperature with the infrared thermometer gun. remarkably, the house is able to maintain 64° despite the outside temperature being in the 50's and then later dropping into the 40's. the coldest parts were still be the doors. worst was the back door, but only by a few degrees; in the past, the temperature different was 10-15°.
i had another salad for dinner, a supreme caesar salad, but i added my own bacons this time. i ate late, at 9:00, because i did some snacking earlier, finished a whole bag of spicy pork rinds. i also did a test load in the dishwasher, trying to see if there were anymore leaks, or if i damaged the machine when i tried to take it out. i was also hoping that using it once might cure the slow leak currently taking place, but that problem still remained. to fix it, i'll need to install a lock valve on the hot water outflow from my tank (currently there isn't one for some strange reason).