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  • Writer's pictureLauren

Mini Project: Insulation

"Do you know there's NO insulation up here?" -- Everyone who went into our attic before August 8th.

Access to our attic is located in one of the upstairs bedrooms, which I happen to be using as my office. If you were to pull the cord and bring down the rickety ladder forged decades ago, you would see our roof, the actual metal of the roof. If, two weeks ago, you were to ascend into the attic and look around, you would have seen not a lick of insulation.

Such was the quest of an insulation provider (insulator?) a few weeks ago. After the cursory incredulity, he quoted us $600 for blown insulation. At first, this sounded perfect until he uttered the following, "I can be out here in 1 month."

Backing up a bit, you might recall the fiasco that was our roof project. Not only did the project start much later than anticipated, it dragged on for what felt like forever, but ended up being 3 weeks. There were times when we only had a partial roof. We were waiting on the roof before the insulation for obvious reasons: it would have gotten filthy.

The house is 119-years-old. It doesn't have insulation in the attic. It has a few centenarian windows. It leaks like a rusty bucket. And there are conditioned outbuildings. When the "insulator" told us he'd be out in 31 days, I'd just finished stroking a check to Duke Energy for $412 and felt like we literally couldn't afford to wait another month.

Happily, when I texted our (new) kitchen contractor, he said he could have his guy out there in 2 days! Contractors seem to have "guys" for everything.

Two men came in a truck with big smiles on their faces on Saturday morning. They did not speak English, however, my Spanish-speaking friend had spent the night. The three of them conversed and strategized while us gringos (my husband and I) looked on. They ran a tube from the truck through the second story bathroom window, around a corner in the hallway, and up into the attic through the access in my office.

This mini project kicked off with,"There is NO insulation up here!" (but in Spanish). Down in the truck, one man was throwing squares of insulation into what looked like a green wood chipper, and the other shot insulation everywhere. Then tiny fluffballs of insulation shot through the tube, defying gravity, and into the attic. After about an hour, there were triumphant sounds and we had a beautiful layer of what looked snow in our sweltering attic.

The victory only lasted overnight. As I went into my office approximately 24 hours after the workers' departure, I noticed my area rug was damp. Odd, I thought. Then, my gaze moved upwards to my entry table and on above that to my bookshelf. Water had dripped through the ceiling, probably all night, onto my bookshelf, over my table, and onto the floor.

I love books. I have a kindle that I bring on trips and planes in case I need a book in an emergency, like if I complete one quicker than anticipated. But for the most part, I buy books. Harry Potter books, Hunger Games books, Janet Evanovich books, sales books, Daniel Pink books, business scandal books, year books, personal finance books...and about half of them were damp.

I jumped into action, flipping the books upside down, taking the covers off the hardbacks, and pointing an oscillating fan at them, desperately hoping the $15 fan would save hundreds of dollars of books and even more fond mementos.

I "saved" most of the books, only throwing away a handful. They all were wrinkly. Some were discolored. But they're MY books, and after drying off the bookshelf, I put them back. I'm currently enrolled in a graduate certificate program, and have thanked my lucky stars since this happened that my notebooks and textbooks were spared. I also run a podcast, and my microphones, which were on a shelf, were spared as well.

Then, I texted my mom and told her we weren't going to make dinner. I had to clean the place up, and Aric had to figure out what happened.

Our air handler for the upstairs AC unit is next to the attic access above my office. During the day on Saturday, the drainage pipe was kicked off the unit and the condensation dripped down almost ruining my prized possessions, and successfully ruining a piece of red shabby chic furniture I'd bought for $125 three years prior that matched my new office perfectly.

Aric went to Lowe's and bought a wet-dry vacuum. He vacuumed out the pipe, and re-connected it. He shut the AC off.

On Monday, we had an AC repairman (who had already been out once before) out to survey the scene, and he confirmed it was the detachment of the pipe that had done the damage, but that the AC should have been able to turn itself off. He installed a second kill switch, leveled out the air handler, and flipped the drip pan around. We paid $130 and he was on his way.

It's always something, right?

Our contractor was so contrite about this incident (and a second one you'll read about in the kitchen remodel write-up), he's paying for upgraded granite in our kitchen. Overall, things could have been MUCH worse, and we appreciate the gesture. It's going to be beautiful.

On to the next project: kitchen.

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