Insulating my ancient roof

November 04, 2012 | Filed under: energy efficiency

Sooo… in-between all my games stuff I continue my hilariously slow process of trying to make my 1750′s drafty house more energy efficient. The big area of the house that is still horribly uninsulated is the attic, which is a sort-of spare room, which we never really use. Maybe twice a year.

because it’s so old, it’s not like insulating a new house with regularly spaced rafters and throwing down some nice easily unrolled insulating thingies. You need to use ‘breathable’ insulation. The attic has about eight wall panels that cover the eaves. I’ve insulated behind 3 already, and today I finally finished the fourth. here is the panel at the start.

behind that is a notable lack of insulation, and some thick felt like stuff hanging down. Look behind and around that and we find that the current insulation is…

Rubble! Yes rubble. huge pieces of slate, stone, some straw, a few long bits of wood, some newspaper, some stuff which I briefly panicked was asbestos, but we now think was just plaster dust. When I say ‘some’ I mean about a dozen bucketfulls of the stuff. methinks modern insulation has moved beyond ‘fill the eaves with rubble and straw!

And here we are with me having put down a nice thick layer of insulation instead of all that dust and rubble.

And here we go with another layer on top of that so it’s double thickness. Insulation achievement unlocked +10 points. Well done.

Apparently it started snowing in the west of England today, so maybe I’ll find out sooner than expected if it makes any difference whatsoever. It makes me feel better anyway :D

6 Responses to “Insulating my ancient roof”

  1. Seb says:

    Feel for you mate.

    Having gone/going through the process of renovating an old farmers cottage in France (1681 ours is, or at least one of the houses is..), I can recommend the breathable space blanket stuff. Costs a small fortune to buy, but if you are doing enough of it (we had about 500m2 to put up in the eaves and between the rafters) it makes a massive difference, least as much difference as 6″ of rock wool would have.

    Admittedly though, with it being a holiday home, staying there between December – February isn’t an option, mostly as the water supply has a tendency to freeze! :)

  2. cliffski says:

    A lot of the house has been done with actual proper sheeps wool, which is pretty pricey, and a bit smelly and difficult, but it’s awesome stuff. Quite why the economics aren’t right for farmers in the UK to raise sheep for meat and also for wool insulation is beyond me. Must make more sense than shipping lamb from new zealand…

  3. Michael says:

    Good Job.

  4. Kalle says:

    Doing the same in my attic results in spending ages reading the 30s newspapers and artillery officer school training manuals that were used as insulation

  5. L says:

    The problem with this blog posts is they always make me feel a bit guilty about how much stuff like this I’ve /not/ done in our 1780′s house! Nice job though, think I’ll visit my loft this weekend…

  6. Kevin says:

    I live in California, and there’s not a single building the entire state that dates back to the 1750s. So it’s interesting to me to see what sort of issues can occur in houses that are that old. I imagine there are all sort of issues peculiar to houses that are that old.

    Of course, houses in California built prior to about 1960 have pretty terrible insulation compared to modern houses, so installing new insulation is important for older houses here as well. With the brutally hot summers and mild winters where I live, insulation is more important for keeping the heat outside during the summers than keeping it inside during the winters. Our major energy usage period is in summer where the air conditioners are running for much of the day.